Katherine Helmond, Beloved Who's the Boss Star, Dies at 89

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Katherine Helmond, a Tony Award-winning actress likely best known for her hilarious role on the sitcom Who's the Boss, died on February 23 from Alzheimer’s Disease complications.

She was 89 years old.

Katherine Helmond

According to various outlets, Helmond passed away at her home in Los Angeles.

A veteran of the acting industry, Helmond all starred as Jessica Tate on another popular ABC comedy, Soap; along with portraying Doris Sherman - the widowed owner of the fictional NFL team the Orlando Breakers - on ABC’s Coach.

Perhaps you also recognize her as Lois Whelan, the upper-class mother of Patricia Heaton’s character on Everybody Loves Raymond.

But it was the role of Mona that truly made Helmond into a television star.

For all eight seasons of this program, she delightfully played the man-crazy mother of Judith Light’s Angela.

Her turn as Mona earned Helmond two more Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe win in 1989; overall, the actress garnered seven Emmy nods for her work.


On the big screen, Helmond appeared in a trio of Terry Gilliam movies:

1. She played the seafaring cannibal Mrs. Ogre in Time Bandits (1981).

2. She played Jonathan Pryce’s rich, cosmetic surgery-addicted mother in Brazil.

3. She played a hotel clerk in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998).

Moreover, Helmond provided the voice of Lizzie, a 1923 Ford Model T, in the three Cars movies.


In a revealing 2008 interview with the Archive of American Television, Helmond explained why she made the switch from drama to comedy, saying at the time:

"I was married to drunks, I got knocked around and battered and beaten and taken advantage of.

"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."

And it obviouly turned out very well for Helmond that she did.

with danza

Katherine Helmond is pictured here in a scene with Tony Danza on Who's the Boss.

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.

"I felt I blossomed as a person when I got a chance to act," Helmond once said.

"Through all the many years now, I’ve never fallen out of love. It’s been like an incredible marriage that really worked. I enjoyed every minute of it."

Katherine Helmond is survived by her husband of 57 years.

May she rest in peace.

UPDATE: This is from Alyssa Milano, who played Helmond's granddaughter on Who's the Boss:

My beautiful, kind, funny, gracious, compassionate, rock. You were an instrumental part of my life. You taught me to hold my head above the marsh! You taught me to do anything for a laugh! What an example you were!

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