Beth Howland, who is fondly remembered as high-strung waitress Vera on the 1970s/80s CBS sitcom Alice, died on Dec. 31 at the age of 74, following a battle with lung cancer. Howland’s husband, Murphy Brown vet Charles Kimbrough, told the New York Times that he refrained from announcing her death earlier, in keeping with her wishes.
Howland won the role of Vera Louise Gorman (which was played by Valerie Cutin in the 1974 Martin Scorsese film Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore) after a Warner Bros. TV exec saw her play anxious bride-to-be Amy in Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical Company.
Prior to Alice, which would run for nine seasons, Howland’s TV credits included appearances on The Mary Tyler More Show, Love, American Style and The Rookies. After hanging up her Mel’s Diner apron, she went on to guest on shows such as Murder, She Wrote, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and The Tick.
Howland is survived by Kimbraugh and her daughter from a previous marriage (to actor Michael J. Pollard).