Carol Ann Susi, Voice Behind Big Bang Theory's Mrs. Wolowitz, Dead at 62

Carol Ann Susi

Carol Ann Susi, best known as the voice of Howard Wolowitz’s unseen mother on The Big Bang Theory, has died after a short battle with an aggressive cancer, her rep confirmed Tuesday.

In addition to the CBS sitcom, the Brooklyn, N.Y., native appeared on countless TV shows during her 40-year career, including Grey’s AnatomyUgly BettyThat ’70s ShowSabrina the Teenage WitchJust Shoot Me and Seinfeld.

Warner Bros. TV, CBS and the show’s executive producers — Chuck Lorre, Steven Molaro and Bill Prady — have released the following statement:

“The Big Bang Theory family has lost a beloved member today with the passing of Carol Ann Susi, who hilariously and memorably voiced the role of Mrs. Wolowitz. Unseen by viewers, the Mrs. Wolowitz character became a bit of a mystery throughout the show’s eight seasons. What was not a mystery, however, was Carol Ann’s immense talent and comedic timing, which were on display during each unforgettable appearance. In addition to her talent, Carol Ann was a constant source of joy and kindness to all. Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with her family during this time, and we will miss her greatly.”

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Susi indeed was regularly deemed irreplaceable by the Big Bang team. As Prady once told TVGuide.com — in response to a suggestion that the show might cast, say, Roseanne Barr, as an on-screen Ma — “Carol Ann Susi loves her job as the off-screen bane of Howard’s existence because, as she often says, she gets to work with wonderful people and doesn’t have to put on make-up. There are no plans for any other actress to play the role.”

Susi is survived by her brother Michael and his wife Connie.

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53 Comments
  1. M3rc Nate says:

    RIP to her

    But TBBT? I dont know exactly how to word this….you suck, because you guys held out on ever showing his mom, and knew the VO actress had cancer and still never showed her (I imagine we wont see her in episodes already shot)…so you guys missed your opportunity. Now you cant ever show her and her have the same voice, i imagine you cant write for the Mom anymore with the VO actress having passed, and so what are you left with creatively? Having his mother die on the show? On one hand that would be a interesting story idea, on the other it always feels dirty to kill off a character cause the actor/actress/etc died irl.

    • Rob Watkins says:

      I don’t think they were ever going to show her. She’s like Vera from Cheers or Maris on Frasier. I don’t see how writing the death of Howard’s mother is wrong.

      • Jericho says:

        In fact, writing her death into the show would actually be a respectful thing to do and a good thing for the show. So much of this season’s Howard arc has been centered around her and her inability to care for herself without someone else there.

        I definitely agree with the “always feels dirty” sentiment of the commenter above though. Carol Ann Susi was a phenomenal presence on the show and was never seen. She deserves better, but how do you do better than respectfully refusing to replace the irreplaceable.

        • nick says:

          I think without a doubt her death should be written in. Howard get the phone…i know ma. Whose calling at this ungodly hour.. Lol. What do think i am running here a fancy restuarant, does this look like Olive Garden…lol

        • Rich says:

          By having a funeral for her with her photo displayed next to the coffin.

      • Lyn says:

        Thinking back to the episode where Howard caught his Dr. [dentist?] climbing out the window they could have her marry the guy and find a different storyline for Stuart.

      • Sue K says:

        I agrees Rob. There have always been mysterious characters on comedies. I believe that Carlton the Doorman from Rhoda was never seen. Let’s just concentrate on the fact that there is a loss here and pray for her spirit. Rest in peace.

      • ChicagoDan says:

        Exactly, those characters were an integral part of the each show’s fabric – we didn’t need to see them. It was far better have our own image of them based on the characters’ descriptions and interactions. No, Mrs. W was a bit grating, but I didn’t need an actor’s body to fill in my image of her. Frankly, a physical actor would’ve never lived up to the build up of such and OTT character. Terrible to hear about Ms. Susi’s passing especially at her age. She definitely finished her career on a high note. I’m certain the producers will be respectful in handling the future of the character.

      • Duane says:

        They actually did “show” Howard’s mother in several episodes: One being the zoom out from the rooftop at Howard and Bernadette’s wedding, and the other being brief glimpses of an enormous woman seen walking past a door in the background when the main characters were talking in the foreground. I believe Mrs. Wolowitz was supposed to be cooking a meal, IIRC.

    • Tragic says:

      Do the world a favor, M3rc Nate: take a grammar class. Take it as quickly as possible.

    • Denise says:

      With all due respect, your comment about TBBT/Lorre sucking for not “showing” Ms. Susi even after they found out that she had cancer is incorrect. Showing Ms. Susi after she was diagnosed wasn’t possible because according to one article I read, Ms. Susi died less than 2 weeks after her cancer was discovered. So, even if TBBT/Lorre had wanted to show her, they couldn’t have.

  2. Daya says:

    Her voice could be a little grating sometimes, but I can’t even begin to imagine the show without her. What a shock! :(

    Fortunately, Bill has said numerous times that they don’t generally write very far ahead, so I imagine they’ll write her out of the show in the coming weeks.

    Too sad.

  3. M3rc Nate says:

    My point being they could have been proactive, and shot a scene where we finally see Howards mother, and they voice-dub the actress that is used with the VO actress, but i imagine they didnt do anything like that.

  4. leigh says:

    May she rest in peace.

  5. abz says:

    She brought so much laughter over the years on TBBT and I thank her for that. May she rest in peace. :(

  6. ZisforZombie says:

    Incredibly sad. RIP Mrs. Wolowitz, your voice and presence will definitely be missed on TBBT.

  7. Stacey says:

    Wow. I always was waiting for the series finale where they final revealed her. But I have got to see that they will now have Mrs. Wolowitz die and given Howard some major issues with how he deals with his mother death given all his comments over the years and now for it finally happen, especially given this season added emphasis on Stuart. Hmm…

  8. Sasha says:

    So unbelievably sad! I will always remember her as the secretary on Secret of my Success. RIP Carol

  9. Chuck says:

    They could never have shown Susi as Howard’s mom… The character is described as morbidly obese and Susi was not.

    • KatsMom says:

      Yep, with the show’s meager finances, I’m sure a fat suit would have broken the bank.

    • Linda says:

      I always thought that towards the end of the series, it would have been great if Mrs. Wolowitz went on a diet and lost a lot of weight….that way they could actually have her on the show in person. So sad. She will be missed.

  10. robinepowell says:

    Sorry hear about that. She was great on the show. I wonder what the producers will do now?

  11. Dan says:

    She will be missed. Amazing what she could do with just her voice on TBBT. Melissa Rauch can probably do a great imitation of her voice. It would be some great meta joke if Howard’s mother and wife were interpreted by the same actress. And maybe Carol Ann Susi would approve of that.

  12. raysfox53 says:

    This affords us an opportunity to see Howard grow more without his mother. It also opens up the opportunity for his dad to come back into his life.

    • KatsMom says:

      I was thinking the same thing about his dad. If the writers do decide to kill Mrs. Wolowitz, I think it would be interesting for Howard’s father to show up and pay his respects, and try to mend his relationship with his son.

      • Lyn says:

        Considering the resemblance, it would be great if they could get Nicholas Cage to guest as Howard’s dad. I know the age difference is pretty tight, but I’ve so enjoyed some of the guest stars they’ve had [Billy Bob Thornton and Bob Newhart etc.] Cage would be great playing off Simon Helberg.

  13. Olivia says:

    Oh no :(
    RIP Ms Susi, you will be missed. I would have loved to see Mrs Wolowitz at least once…

  14. Sam says:

    RIP. She will be missed.

  15. Little Scarf Girl says:

    That’s so sad! She was pretty young, too. :\ I’m fairly certain they will have the character pass away, too. I don’t think it would be right to have anyone else play her, and it certainly is a believable storyline for her character. Having Howard react and deal with the aftermath would also be interesting.

  16. Scott says:

    Had the honor of meeting Carol in 2002. Very kind and classy woman. She was an incredible talent that will be very missed. She brightened every scene she was in

  17. dancmh says:

    Stuart’s going to get EVERYTHING.

  18. Roberta says:

    Such a loss! I’m verklempt! While I was just as curious as anybody else to see her, I agree that the off-screen presence of the mother was key to the humor. It would be nice to have her run off to Florida with the dentist, but the funeral could be comedy gold as well as sweet and poignant. It’s just so sad that the decision is necessitated by the passing if a wonderful actress. May she rest in peace…

  19. Mabel says:

    Sorry to hear the news. I remember her from Ugly Betty and her off-screen performance as Howard’s mother was always hilarious. I always thought Melissa Rausch, the actress who played Bernadette, did a great impression of Howard’s mother.

  20. Anna says:

    I am stunned and saddened by the loss. I extend my sympathy to her family and friends. I hope she won’t just be replaced by another voice. She was too much a part of the show. I think writing the death of Mrs. Wollowitz in to the show might be a very good way to handle it. It addition to honoring Carol Ann Susi’s contribution to the show, it would allow for some real growth on the part of the other characters.

  21. Dory McDaniels says:

    My boyfriend and I thought the voice of Howard’s mom was done by Howard’s girlfriend. Ilike when she made dinner for Raj and wouldn’t let him leave in the mornoing. But you did see Howard’s mom in the kitchen!

  22. Dory McDaniels says:

    My boyfriend and I thought the voice of Howard’s mom was done by Howard’s girlfriend.

  23. Evelyn Johnson says:

    What a loss! I loved her. All of the mothers are hysterical! When she and Bernadette scream at each other I laugh until my stomach hurts. I think writing a funeral episode would be a wonderful tribute to her. She will be missed.

  24. mary says:

    I saw Mrs. Wolowitz every time Ms. Susi opened her mouth on the show. There she is, with a girdle under her schmatta, a pair of fluffy slippers and support stockings. ! No physical being could live up to that voice – a woman of mystery . . . she was perfect as an off-screen character. Writing her death into the show would be perfect; Howard’s character needs to grow up a little bit at this point, and Bernadette needs to tone it down (she’s more irritating this year than ever). So sorry, though – condolences to her family and many friends.

  25. JK says:

    That’s what she gets for promoting a tv show with a queer as the main star. God prevails over sin

    • lane says:

      Why would you use that Q word and God in the same sentence.You are one ignorant being.If you don’t like the show don’t watch and by the way You are NOT God you have no right to say anything about a living being getting cancer or any other illness.Don’ take some kind of political or religious stand when people are showing their respect and talking about their feelings for an actress and show that most of us enjoy.If you want to be an ignorant bully go do it somewhere else

  26. Bernard Jenkins says:

    RIP. Very funny lady.

  27. Michele Berlant says:

    I have the blessed ability to mimic the voice she so wonderfully created. So if they change their mind about replacing the character with an identical voice, I would be honored.

  28. Fran DiLalla says:

    it is so sad that she died at such a young age
    My opinion is that the show must go on. There’s no reason for Howard to have a replacement mother. It will be more realistic on the show if the character dies. Many shows have done that even when the actor has not died. Think about Colonel Blade on MASH.
    The actor was still alive but the character died.
    Also remember when John Ritter died. The show went on. And Kaley Cuoco was one of them.

  29. William H. Tonsall says:

    Carol Susi was delightful as Howard’s mom; her “out of camera-reach” presence on the show
    added an exceptional ingredient to that is rarely experienced in Tv or Film. She will be missed.

  30. Lisa Silva says:

    Her voice will be missed!! How will she be replaced? ☆♥♡★

  31. Georgie. gardner says:

    She’s. Out. Of sight. But. Not. Out. Of. Mind

  32. Georgie. gardner says:

    Howard. Needs. A mother figure. Like an. Aunt. But. Not. A know star.

  33. eddie says:

    She was great ! they handled her passing well ! Very sad !