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Katherine Helmond, "Who's the Boss?", 89
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David Carson
2019-03-01 19:32:41 UTC
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https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/katherine-helmond-dead-whos-the-boss-star-89-877766
Katherine Helmond, the Man-Crazy Mother on 'Who’s the Boss?' Dies at 89
10:24 AM PST 3/1/2019 by Mike Barnes

She also starred in 'Soap' and played a cosmetic surgery-addicted mother
in 'Brazil,' one of three movies she did for Terry Gilliam.

Katherine Helmond, the seven-time Emmy-nominated Texas actress who played
the feisty, man-crazy mother Mona Robinson on the long-running ABC sitcom
Who’s the Boss?, has died. She was 89.

Helmond, who earlier starred as the wide-eyed socialite sister Jessica
Tate on another popular ABC comedy, Susan Harris’ daytime-serial spoof
Soap, died Saturday of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at her home
in Los Angeles, her talent agency, APA, announced.

The shapely, blue-eyed Helmond also portrayed Doris Sherman, the widowed
owner of the fictional NFL team the Orlando Breakers, on ABC’s Coach, and
she was Lois Whelan, the upper-class mother of Patricia Heaton’s
character, on CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond.

On the big screen, Helmond appeared in three Terry Gilliam movies — as the
seafaring cannibal Mrs. Ogre in Time Bandits (1981), as Jonathan Pryce’s
rich, cosmetic surgery-addicted mother in Brazil (1985) and as a hotel
clerk in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998). And she provided the voice
of Lizzie, a 1923 Ford Model T, in the three Cars movies.

More recently, she appeared on True Blood.

Helmond received Emmy noms for lead actress in a comedy for playing
Jessica in every season of Soap, which aired from 1977-81. She was
nominated again for Who’s the Boss? in 1988 and 1989 and for Everybody
Loves Raymond in 2002. And she won two Golden Globes, one for each show.

The 5-foot-2-inch Helmond also showed off her glorious cheekbones when she
earned a Tony nom in 1973 for best featured actress in a play for her work
in Eugene O’Neill’s The Great God Brown. She often said that the theater
was her first love.

After Helmond toiled for years in small, dramatic parts on television, her
agent thought it was time that the actress did some comedy.

"I was married to drunks, I got knocked around and battered and beaten and
taken advantage of,” she said of her first TV roles in a 2008 interview
with the Archive of American Television. “That’s one of the reasons I got
switched to comedic roles. My agent said, ‘I just can’t bear to see you
knocked around on television any more. … We’re going to try for a
sitcom.’”

When she auditioned for Soap, Helmond said that Harris sat very seriously,
never laughing, but by the time the actress had arrived home from their
first meeting, she learned that she had gotten the part.

Soap, as described in the opening, was “the story of two sisters — Jessica
Tate and Mary Campbell.” The wealthy Jessica had a philandering husband
(Robert Mandan) and a sarcastic servant named Benson (Robert Guillaume);
Mary’s (Cathryn Damon) family, meanwhile, was blue-collar.

Helmond said that Jessica “floated through life; it was like music playing
all the time. [Harris] said that I had captured that, that I was very
loving and wide-eyed about life, more child-like than stupid.”

On Who’s the Boss?, which aired for eight seasons from 1984-92, Helmond’s
sexually active Mona dated all manner of men. She played the mother of a
divorced advertising executive Angela (Judith Light), who employs a
retired St. Louis Cardinals second baseman (Tony Danza) as a live-in
housekeeper in Fairfield, Connecticut. His daughter (Alyssa Milano) and
Angela's son (Danny Pintauro) also live there.

Mona was a widow who moved on from her husband's death by "throwing
caution to the wind, doing whatever comes up, thinking my own thoughts,
being a little more risque," Helmond said. She heard from viewers who
benefited from that characterization, she noted.

"If life dealt you some unfortunate blow, you would still be able to go
out into the world, find new friends, find new jobs, find a new way of
living if you knew who you were," she said. "I felt like I was giving a
free lesson to a lot of people who are in that position … I got wonderful
letters from people."

Helmond noted that ABC filmed a pilot for a Mona spinoff, but it was not
picked up.

Milano paid tribute to Helmond on Friday, captioning a series photos of
her co-star with the words, "My beautiful, kind, funny, gracious,
compassionate, rock. You were an instrumental part of my life. You taught
me to hold my head above the marsh! You taught me to do anything for a
laugh! What an example you were! Rest In Peace, Katherine."

An only child, Katherine Marie Helmond was born on Galveston Island in
Texas on July 5, 1929. Her father was a fireman and her mother a
housewife, and she was the oldest of three daughters.

After attending Ball High School, she pursued acting in Houston and
Dallas, then moved to New York with a handful of friends. When they had
trouble finding work, they bought a theater in upstate New York and put on
plays there. She said she did 10 years of summer stock.

She spent seven years with the Hartford Stage Company in Connecticut and
the Trinity Repertory Theater in Providence, Rhode Island. After winning
the Drama Critics Award for her off-Broadway performance in John Guare's
Pulitzer Prize-winning play The House of Blue Leaves, Helmond followed the
production to Los Angeles and quickly landed a guest-starring spot on
Gunsmoke in 1972.

Helmond had a role in Arthur Hiller’s The Hospital (1971), and in Alfred
Hitchcock’s Family Plot (1976), her character kicks over a headstone in a
graveyard.

Gilliam originally cast Ruth Gordon for Time Bandits, but she broke her
leg on a Clint Eastwood movie, so Helmond got the part. For Brazil, the
filmmaker phoned her and said, "I have a part for you, but you're not
going to look very good in it," she recalled.

Helmond said that she had a rubber mask glued to her face at 5 a.m. each
day during production and wore it for 10 hours at a time. She developed
blisters that needed medical attention, yet even during that time, she
found "great joy in acting."

"I felt I blossomed as a person when I got a chance to act," she said.
"Through all the many years now, I’ve never fallen out of love. It’s been
like an incredible marriage that really worked. I enjoyed every minute of
it.”

Survivors include her husband of 57 years, David Christian. She met him at
The Hampton Playhouse Summer Stock Theater, where he was the set designer
and she the leading lady.

"She was the love of my life," Christian said. "We spent 57 beautiful,
wonderful, loving years together, which I will treasure forever. I've been
with Katherine since I was 19 years old. The night she died, I saw that
the moon was exactly half-full, just as I am now … half of what I’ve been
my entire adult life."

A memorial for family and friends is being planned.
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Michael OConnor
2019-03-01 22:56:52 UTC
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I was watching an episode of Mannix a couple days ago with her in it and was wondering how old she was these days. She was a terrific actress.
Travoltron
2019-03-02 01:38:40 UTC
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For some reason I thought she had died already. I must have confused her
with someone else.
Who's The Boss was forgettable 80s sitcom fluff, but her role in Brazil
was darkly hilarious and unforgettable.
Michael OConnor
2019-03-02 05:26:12 UTC
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Post by Travoltron
For some reason I thought she had died already. I must have confused her
with someone else.
Who's The Boss was forgettable 80s sitcom fluff, but her role in Brazil
was darkly hilarious and unforgettable.
She was great in Brazil, and I never watched five minutes of Who's the Boss, but she was brilliant on Soap as the ditzy socialite housewife. I remember Soap ended with the unresolved cliffhanger of IIRC her and the South American renegade leader she had fallen in love with lined up before a firing squad.
RH Draney
2019-03-02 07:52:50 UTC
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Post by Michael OConnor
Post by Travoltron
For some reason I thought she had died already. I must have confused her
with someone else.
Who's The Boss was forgettable 80s sitcom fluff, but her role in Brazil
was darkly hilarious and unforgettable.
She was great in Brazil, and I never watched five minutes of Who's the Boss, but she was brilliant on Soap as the ditzy socialite housewife. I remember Soap ended with the unresolved cliffhanger of IIRC her and the South American renegade leader she had fallen in love with lined up before a firing squad.
They resolved that, after a fashion, some time later by having her ghost
visit Benson on his spinoff series....r
Michael OConnor
2019-03-02 08:23:49 UTC
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Post by RH Draney
Post by Michael OConnor
She was great in Brazil, and I never watched five minutes of Who's the Boss, but she was brilliant on Soap as the ditzy socialite housewife. I remember Soap ended with the unresolved cliffhanger of IIRC her and the South American renegade leader she had fallen in love with lined up before a firing squad.
They resolved that, after a fashion, some time later by having her ghost
visit Benson on his spinoff series....r
Which explains why I never knew that. I watched the first episode of the Benson spinoff series and hated how they changed his truly misanthropic butler character on Soap into a grumpy but likeable guy on the spinoff, and never watched another episode.
Travoltron
2019-03-02 17:45:58 UTC
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Soap was just a tiny bit before my time, but I did watch Benson.
Soap sounds like it was a funny show. I'd like to watch it, but nobody
ever seems to rerun it for some reason.
Michael OConnor
2019-03-02 18:07:22 UTC
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Post by Travoltron
Soap was just a tiny bit before my time, but I did watch Benson.
Soap sounds like it was a funny show. I'd like to watch it, but nobody
ever seems to rerun it for some reason.
It looks like most if not all of the episodes of Soap are up on the youtube.
It was very controversial for 1977 when it debuted, but in 2019 I think the humor probably still holds up well. The ensemble cast was great, in particular Helmond and Richard Mulligan as her kooky brother-in-law; the episode where he thought he could make himself invisible was one of the funniest things I have ever seen on television. Billy Crystal became famous from his role as the first openly gay character on a TV series, and he was so convincing in the role I was worried he would be typecast and be stuck playing gay characters the rest of his career despite the fact he is straight in real life.
David Carson
2019-03-03 02:06:57 UTC
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On Sat, 2 Mar 2019 10:07:22 -0800 (PST), Michael OConnor
Post by Michael OConnor
It was very controversial for 1977 when it debuted, but in 2019 I think the humor probably still holds up well. The ensemble cast was great, in particular Helmond and Richard Mulligan as her kooky brother-in-law; the episode where he thought he could make himself invisible was one of the funniest things I have ever seen on television.
I remember thinking that about this bit.


It doesn't make me laugh out loud anymore, but it's still funny. (Helmond
isn't in it.)

David Carson
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Michael OConnor
2019-03-03 03:46:23 UTC
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Post by David Carson
I remember thinking that about this bit.
http://youtu.be/DwDbd4jQpkA
It doesn't make me laugh out loud anymore, but it's still funny. (Helmond
isn't in it.)
I laughed out loud. Jay Johnson was a master ventriloquist, unfortunately I never saw him very much after "Soap".
Guilty Bastard
2019-03-04 22:30:33 UTC
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Post by David Carson
On Sat, 2 Mar 2019 10:07:22 -0800 (PST), Michael OConnor
Post by Michael OConnor
It was very controversial for 1977 when it debuted, but in 2019 I think the humor probably still holds up well. The ensemble cast was great, in particular Helmond and Richard Mulligan as her kooky brother-in-law; the episode where he thought he could make himself invisible was one of the funniest things I have ever seen on television.
I remember thinking that about this bit.
http://youtu.be/DwDbd4jQpkA
It doesn't make me laugh out loud anymore, but it's still funny. (Helmond isn't in it.)
David Carson
I laughed! Very funny...

Adam H. Kerman
2019-03-02 20:10:44 UTC
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Post by RH Draney
Post by Michael OConnor
Post by Travoltron
For some reason I thought she had died already. I must have confused her
with someone else.
Who's The Boss was forgettable 80s sitcom fluff, but her role in Brazil
was darkly hilarious and unforgettable.
She was great in Brazil, and I never watched five minutes of Who's the Boss, but she was brilliant on Soap as the ditzy socialite housewife. I remember Soap ended with the unresolved cliffhanger of IIRC her and the South American renegade leader she had fallen in love with lined up before a firing squad.
They resolved that, after a fashion, some time later by having her ghost
It was entirely disappointing way to handle the mess and they'd have
been better off not doing it. It hardly resolved all open plot points
anyway. But I have seen it.
That Derek
2019-03-02 18:54:24 UTC
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Yes, Soap's Jessica Tate appeared as a ghost on a later episode of Benson, a scenario implying that she met her end by the firing squad.

However, how about the other unresolved storylines?

Chester Tate (Robert Mandan) was challenged to a duel by "El Puerco" (Gregory Sierra), the Latin America revolutionary whose involvement with Jessica was the impetus for the Communist junta kidnapping her and placing her in front of the firing squad.

In the interim, Chester catches his biological son Danny Campbell (Ted Wass) in bed with his second wife Annie (Nsncy Dolman - wasn't she married to Martin Short?, best friend to daughter Eunice Tate (Jennifer Salt). Insulted by this indignity, Chester cocks a gun intent on shooting Danny and Annie reasoning that he was going to be killed the next day in the aformentioned duel.

Meanwhile, newly elected sheriff Burt Campbell (Richard Mulligan_ walks into an ambush and is, apparently about to be killed.

Also, in keeping with previous ridiculous storylines that involved mobsters, spaceships, aliens, exorcisms, and ninjas, Jodie Dallas (Billy Crystal), established as being gay, is having identity issues now that he's in love with a woman (Barbara Roades), decides to undergo past-life hypnotherapy from which he emerges speaking and acting like an old Jewish curmudgeon.

My guess, had Soap emerged for a fifth season, would have been that the gunshots heard at the season-ending denouement would have turned out to have been the firing squad turning on and shooting the commander (The Electric Company's Luis Avalos) or El Puerco's men (one of them was a pre-fame Joe Mantegna; another was Laurie Faso, the kiddie show host from "Marlo and the Magic Movie Machine") having climbed over the compound's wall and shooting the Communists.

Confused? You won't be after this next episode of Soap ... "
Louis Epstein
2019-03-04 01:46:53 UTC
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Post by David Carson
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/katherine-helmond-dead-whos-the-boss-star-89-877766
An only child, Katherine Marie Helmond was born on Galveston Island in
Texas on July 5, 1929. Her father was a fireman and her mother a
housewife, and she was the oldest of three daughters.
Ahem.

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The World Trade Center towers MUST rise again,
at least as tall as before...or terror has triumphed.
Kenny McCormack
2019-03-04 02:06:39 UTC
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Post by David Carson
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/katherine-helmond-dead-whos-the-boss-star-89-877766
Post by David Carson
An only child, Katherine Marie Helmond was born on Galveston Island in
Texas on July 5, 1929. Her father was a fireman and her mother a
housewife, and she was the oldest of three daughters.
Ahem.
Maybe the mother was the eldest of 3 daughters.
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