Katherine Helmond, the Man-Crazy Mother on ‘Who’s the Boss?’ Dies at 89

Katherine Helmond

She also starred in ‘Soap’ and played a cosmetic surgery-addicted mother in ‘Brazil,’ one of three movies she did for Terry Gilliam.

Katherine Helmond, the seven-time Emmy-nominated Texas actress who played the feisty, man-crazy mother Mona Robinson on the long-running ABC sitcom Who’s the Boss?, has died. She was 89.

Helmond, who earlier starred as the wide-eyed socialite sister Jessica Tate on another popular ABC comedy, Susan Harris’ daytime-serial spoof Soap, died Saturday of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at her home in Los Angeles, her talent agency, APA, announced.

The shapely, blue-eyed Helmond also portrayed Doris Sherman, the widowed owner of the fictional NFL team the Orlando Breakers, on ABC’s Coach, and she was Lois Whelan, the upper-class mother of Patricia Heaton’s character, on CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond.

On the big screen, Helmond appeared in three Terry Gilliam movies — as the seafaring cannibal Mrs. Ogre in Time Bandits (1981), as Jonathan Pryce’s rich, cosmetic surgery-addicted mother in Brazil (1985) and as a hotel clerk in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998). And she provided the voice of Lizzie, a 1923 Ford Model T, in the three Cars movies.

More recently, she appeared on True Blood.

Helmond received Emmy noms for lead actress in a comedy for playing Jessica in every season of Soap, which aired from 1977-81. She was nominated again for Who’s the Boss? in 1988 and 1989 and for Everybody Loves Raymond in 2002. And she won two Golden Globes, one for each show.


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