Katherine Helmond, ‘Who’s the Boss’ and ‘Soap’ star, dies at 89

Katherine Helmond, a character actress who rose to fame in the 1970s with roles on the sitcoms “Soap” and “Who’s the Boss?,” has died at age 89.

Her agency APA told TheWrap that Helmond passed away on Feb. 23 of Alzheimer’s complications in her home in Los Angeles.

Across her five decades on TV, Helmond is perhaps best known for playing the ditzy matriarch Jessica Tate opposite Billy Crystal and Robert Guillaume on ABC’s soap opera sitcom “Soap.” She was nominated for four Emmys for the part and won a Golden Globe in 1981.

She also played the sexy and wise Mona Robinson opposite Tony Danza on “Who’s the Boss?,” which earned her two more Emmy nominations. She was most recently Emmy nominated for a guest spot on “Everybody Loves Raymond” in 2002. Her other TV credits included ABC’s “Coach,” A&E’s “The Glades” and HBO’s “True Blood.”

PHOTOS: Katherine Helmond through her career

29 PHOTOS
Katherine Helmond through her career
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Katherine Helmond through her career
SOAP - Show Coverage - Shoot Date: February 13, 1981. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) KATHERINE HELMOND
SOAP - Show Coverage - Shoot Date: November 21, 1980. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) KATHERINE HELMOND;GREGORY SIERRA
WHO'S THE BOSS? - 'There Goes the Bride' - Airdate: October 6, 1987. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)JUDITH LIGHT;KATHERINE HELMOND;TONY DANZA
WHO'S THE BOSS? - 'A Trip to the Principal' - Airdate: October 13, 1987. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)KATHERINE HELMOND
WHO'S THE BOSS? - 'Just Mona and Me' - Airdate: December 8, 1987. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)LESLIE NIELSEN;KATHERINE HELMOND
WHO'S THE BOSS? - 'Steady As She Goes' - Airdate: January 19, 1988. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)ALYSSA MILANO;TONY DANZA;JUDITH LIGHT;KATHERINE HELMOND;DANNY PINTAURO
UNITED STATES - MARCH 01: WHO'S THE BOSS? - 'Three Teens and a Tony' - Season Four - 3/1/88, Tony (Tony Danza) was upset that Samantha had a male friend stay at the house. Katherine Helmond (Mona) also starred., (Photo by Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images)
WHO'S THE BOSS? - 'Marry Me, Mona' - Airdate: March 29, 1988. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)JUDITH LIGHT;KATHERINE HELMOND
WHO'S THE BOSS? - 'Marry Me, Mona' - Airdate: March 29, 1988. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)LESLIE NIELSEN;KATHERINE HELMOND
WHO'S THE BOSS? - 'Sleep Walk Sweet Talk' - Airdate: May 10, 1988. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)KATHERINE HELMOND;ALYSSA MILANO
PASADENA, CA - JUNE 11: Actress Katherine Helmond and husband David Christian attend the opening of 'Sarah In America' on June 11, 1989 at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, Californi. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 24: Actress Katherine Helmond attends the premiere party for 'Immediate Family' on October 24, 1989 at the Hollywood Palladium in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
UNITED STATES - American actress Katherine Helmond, circa 1990. (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - American actress Katherine Helmond, circa 1990. (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 01: Katherine Helmond (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Actress Katherine Helmond attends the premiere of 'The Fisher King' on September 16, 1991 at the Academy Theater in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
EAST HAMPTON, NY - SEPTEMBER 5: Actress Katherine Helmond attends Hampton Classic Horse Show on September 5, 1993 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
COACH - Ad / PR Gallery - Shoot Date: July 31, 1995. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) KATHERINE HELMOND
COACH - Ad / PR Gallery - Shoot Date: July 31, 1995. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) CRAIG T. NELSON;KATHERINE HELMOND
COACH - Ad / PR Gallery - Shoot Date: July 31, 1995. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) KATHERINE HELMOND
NEW YORK CITY - FEBRUARY 24: Actress Katherine Helmond attends Arista Records Grammy Party on February 24, 1998 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Actress Katherine Helmond attending 'Scenery Greenery Benefit Party' on July 28, 1984 at Montauk Downs in Monauk, New York. (Photo by Betty Galella/WireImage)
Katherine Helmond during 'Georgia Rule' New York City Premiere - Inside Arrivals at Zigfeld Theatre in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic)
Katherine Helmond at the The Directors Guild Of America in Hollywood, California (Photo by Justin Kahn/WireImage)
Sally Struthers (Samantha), Charlotte Rae (Charlotte), Bea Arthur (Carrie) and Katherine Helmond (Miranda) parody Sex and the City for the TV Land Awards, which will air on TV Land on Wednesday, March 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT *Exclusive* ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Katherine Helmond during HBO Video Hosts Everybody Loves Raymond :The Complete First Season DVD Release Party at Carmine's in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Katherine Helmond during 11th Annual Art Directors Guild Awards at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
MELISSA & JOEY - 'In Lennox We Trust' - Lennox dates the Mayor's son who may not be the good influence Mel thinks he is, on 'Melissa & Joey' airing on 'ABC Family' on Tuesday, October 12 (8:00-8:30 p.m.). (Photo by Randy Holmes/ABC Family via Getty Images) KATHERINE HELMOND
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 13: Actress Katherine Helmond attends the Grand Opening Of 'Cars Land' At Disneyland Resort on June 13, 2012 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
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In film, Helmond was a frequent collaborator of Terry Gilliam, starring in his “Time Bandits,” “Brazil” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” She more recently provided a voice in Pixar’s trilogy of “Cars” films,” and she also starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Family Plot” and Garry Marshall’s “Overboard.”

Helmond also had a lucrative career on stage, and she was nominated for a Best Supporting or Featured Actress Tony Award for her Broadway performance in Eugene O’Neill’s “The Great God Brown.” Her other Broadway productions included “Private Lives,” “Don Juan” and “Mixed Emotions.” She also received critical acclaim for her stage performance in Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues.”

Born Katherine Marie Helmond on July 5, 1929, in Galveston, Texas, Helmond’s first love was always the theater, where she would continue to work throughout her life. Helmond was the only child of Thelma and Joseph P. Helmond. She was raised by her mother and grandmother and attended a Catholic primary school, where she appeared in numerous school plays before making her stage debut in “As You Like It” in 1955.

Helmond would spend seven years performing at the Hartford Stage Company and Trinity Repertory Theater. After winning the Drama Critics Award for her Off-Broadway performance in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “The House of Blue Leaves” by John Guare, Helmond followed the production to Los Angeles, where she was eventually discovered by talent scouts and landed her first television role guest-starring in an episode of “Gunsmoke.”

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Katherine Helmond, 89: Read more here
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Helmond met her husband of 57 years, David Christian, at The Hampton Playhouse Summer Stock Theater, where he was the set designer and she was the leading lady. They wed in 1962 and remained happily married until her death.

In a 2011 interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Helmond attributed her long, continuous and successful career to her childhood.

“I went to Catholic school. Do as you’re told; don’t ask questions and you will be illuminated,” she said. “I listened; I paid attention, and I sat quietly in my chair until they pointed at me. Then I got up and did what I was expected to do. When I got to be an old girl, I was still a good little girl.”

A memorial for family and friends to celebrate her extraordinary life and career is currently being planned for the near future.

Helmond is survived by her husband David Christian.

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