Katherine Helmond, the beloved star of classic TV comedies like “Who’s The Boss?” and “Soap” has passed away at the age of 89. She died due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease in her Los Angeles home.
Known for her quick wit and feisty energy, Helmond was active in film and television for almost 60 years. In 1973 Helmond earned a Tony for her role in Eugene O’Neill’s “The Great God Brown.”
Most viewers will remember Helmond in mainstream comedies like “Coach” and “Everybody Loves Raymond,” but she also appeared in many of Terry Gilliam’s quirky films like “Brazil” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
Helmond said it took a few years before she found her footing in comedy. “I was married to drunks, I got knocked around and battered and beaten and taken advantage of,” Helmond once said about her early roles during an 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.’”
After her success on “Soap,” Helmond became a household name when she followed up with eight seasons of “Who’s the Boss?”
“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 about her role as Mona. “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 is survived by her half-sister, Alice, and husband, David Christian.
“She was the love of my life,” Christian said to the Hollywood Reporter. “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.”