Katherine Helmond, best known for her Emmy-nominated turns on Soap and Who’s the Boss?, died Feb. 23 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, according to her talent agency, APA. She was 89.
Though Helmond got her start on television in the early 1970s, with one-off appearances on series such as Gunsmoke, The Bob Newhart Show and The Six Million Dollar Man, her first major TV role was that of lovable ditz Jessica Tate on ABC’s sitcom Soap. Throughout her four-season run on the show, Helmond earned four Primetime Emmy nominations and, in 1981, won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Series (Comedy or Musical).
The actress went on to steal scenes in another ABC comedy, Who’s the Boss?, where she co-starred for all eight seasons as Mona Robinson, the man-crazy mother of Judith Light’s Angela. Her turn as Mona racked up two more Emmy nods and a Golden Globe win in 1989.
“Katherine Helmond was a remarkable human being and an extraordinary artist; generous, gracious, charming and profoundly funny,” Light said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “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, and will be deeply missed.”
Helmond’s many TV credits also included Coach, The Love Boat and Everybody Loves Raymond. More recently, she had guest-starred in episodes of True Blood, Melissa & Joey and The Glades, among others.
In addition to her long career on the small screen, Helmond was a veteran of the stage. In 1973, she scored a Tony Award nomination for her work in Eugene O’Neill’s play The Great God Brown.