In this May 26, 2006, file photo, Katherine Helmond arrives for the premiere of the Disney/Pixar animated film “Cars” at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. Helmond, best known as the grandmother who was hot for housekeeper Tony Danza on Who’s The Boss died last Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, of complications from Alzheimer disease at her home in Los Angeles, her talent agency APA announced Friday, March 1, 2019. She was 89. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

‘Who’s the Boss?’ and ‘Soap’ actress Katherine Helmond dies

Helmond died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease

Actress Katherine Helmond, an Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actress who played two very different matriarchs on the ABC sitcoms “Who’s the Boss?” and “Soap,” has died, her talent agency said Friday. She was 89.

Helmond died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease last Saturday at her home in Los Angeles, talent agency APA said in a statement.

READ MORE: Peter Tork, Monkees’ lovable bass-guitar player, dies at 77

A native of Galveston, Texas, Helmond’s credits date back to the 1950s and she worked steadily in small roles through the decades. But her real fame, and all seven of her Emmy nominations, didn’t start arriving until she was nearly 50.

She was probably best known for playing Mona Robinson, Judith Light’s mother on “Who’s the Boss?,” which also starred Tony Danza and a young Alyssa Milano.

She won a best supporting Golden Globe for her work in 1989.

“My beautiful, kind, funny, gracious, compassionate, rock,” Milano mourned on Twitter. “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!”

On the show, Light was an uptight single mother who hired the 1980s heartthrob Danza to be her live-in housekeeper, and Helmond was her foil, a lover of nightlife, pursuer of men and flaunter of sexuality who would have been at home on “The Golden Girls,” which ran during the same years.

“Katherine Helmond was a remarkable human being and an extraordinary artist; generous, gracious, charming and profoundly funny,” Light said in a statement. “She taught me so much about life and inspired me indelibly by watching her work. Katherine was a gift to our business and to the world.”

Danza tweeted, “We all lost a national treasure today. No words can measure my love.”

An only child, raised by her mother and grandmother, who began acting while a girl in Catholic school, Helmond began her professional career in theatre and returned to it often, earning a Tony Award nomination in 1973 for her Broadway role in Eugene O’Neill’s “The Great God Brown.”

She was a favourite of director Terry Gilliam, who put her in his films “Brazil,” ”Time Bandits,” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

In “Brazil,” a dystopian comedy from 1985, she played a surgery-addicted woman whose elastic face became one of the most memorable images from the cult film.

Her major break came with “Soap,” a parody of soap operas that aired from 1977 to 1981. She played wealthy matriarch Jessica Tate, one of two main characters on the show, which co-starred Robert Guillaume and was also a breakthrough for Billy Crystal, who played her nephew.

She was nominated for Emmys for all four seasons of the show and won a best actress in a comedy Golden Globe in 1981.

Helmond kept working into her 80s doing mostly voice work, most notably as the Model T Lizzie in the Pixar “Cars” films.

She had a recurring role on “Everybody Loves Raymond” from 1996 to 2004 as the title character’s mother-in-law.

“Katherine Helmond was such a class act and incredibly down to earth,” tweeted actress Patricia Heaton, who co-starred with Ray Romano on the show. “She was terrific as my mother on ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ and I looked up to her as a role model.”

She is survived by her husband of 57 years, David Christian, her half-sister, Alice Parry, and many nieces and nephews, her agency’s statement said.

A memorial is being planned.

Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP seeks video footage after homeowner interrupts Colwood break and enter

Police were called to 600-block of Stornoway Drive late Sunday

BC Supreme Court tosses out application to stop work on Highlands quarry

Highlands District Community Association will not suffer irreparable harm if work begins, says judge

Victoria council pushes for December byelection

City staff concerned with timeframe and planning needs prior to byelection

Charity tackling ‘weekend hunger gap’ bracing for tripling of students in need

Backpack Buddies was serving 1,300 students per week in March, by June that number doubled

Pandemic reunites 2000s era Victoria rock band The Origin

Saanich musicians recording for first time since 2008

Quirky Canadian comedy ‘Schitt’s Creek’ takes Emmys by storm with comedy sweep

Toronto-raised Daniel Levy and Ottawa-born Annie Murphy both got supporting actor nods

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

181 days gone: Family continues to look for man last seen in RCMP custody 6 months ago

Brandon Sakebow’s last known location was leaving Mission RCMP cell, police say; family has doubts

B.C. unveils new cannabis sales programs to help small, Indigenous growers

Government did not say how it will define small producers, but says nurseries will be included in the policy

Most Read