Carole Cook Death: Heart Failure at 98: Carole Cook, who received a boost in her career from Lucille Ball and went on to have three Broadway runs as well as parts in The Incredible Mr. Limpet and Sixteen Candles, has passed away. She was 98. Cook passed away from heart failure in Beverly Hills on Wednesday, three days before her birthday, according to her husband, actor Tom Troupe.
On television, Cook appeared as Donna La Mar, Charlie Cagney’s (Dick O’Neill) girlfriend, on Cagney & Lacey as well as the ex-wife of Walter Findlay (Bill Macy) on Maude and the bar owner of the cop hangout Stella’s on Kojak.
At Ball’s request, the Texan traveled to Hollywood and made an appearance on one of her Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse episodes from 1959. In honor of the actress she most liked, Carole Lombard, Ball persuaded her to alter her first name from Mildred to Carole.
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Cook also collaborated with Ball on five episodes of CBS’ Here’s Lucy from 1969 to 1974 and 18 episodes of The Lucy Show from 1963 to 1968, frequently portraying Lucy Carmichael’s friend Thelma Green. In 1965, they even engaged in a game of Passwords together. Like her tutor, she wore her hair red.
Cook also appeared as the character’s wife in The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964), where she witnessed Don Knotts swim away from her, and as Molly Ringwald’s sentimental grandmother in John Hughes’ Sixteen Candles (1984).
She starred in the original Broadway productions of Romantic Comedy and 42nd Street, which premiered in 1979 and ’80, respectively, and was the second actress after the great Carol Channing to represent Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! in 1965.
Cook and her husband were interviewed by TMZ outside Craig’s in West Hollywood in September 2018, and during the interview, Cook urged that President Trump be assassinated. This put her into some hot water. She questioned, “Where is John Wilkes Booth when you need him, right?”
She was visited by the Secret Service, and she remarked, “They couldn’t have been nicer. I argued that I couldn’t go to jail since the stripes on my clothing were horizontal and didn’t suit me. Mildred Frances Cook, the fourth of four children, was born on January 14, 1924, in Abilene, Texas.
She remarked in a July interview that although Abilene isn’t exactly the center of Broadway because it is covered in mesquite trees, she never wavered after seeing her first performance when she was four years old. “I began in the First Baptist Church basement and worked my way up to Broadway and the movies.”
The green-eyed Cook worked in regional theatre after receiving her degree in Greek drama from Baylor University in 1945. She finally made it to Broadway in 1954 as Mrs. Peachum in a revival of Threepenny Opera, taking Charlotte Rae’s place in the cast.
When she was performing in Kismet in Warren, Ohio, Ball called to encourage her to come to California and try out for her Desilu Workshop group of young performers. Ball had read a review of her work in Annie Get Your Gun. (Nicholas Georgiade, a future Untouchables actor, also got his start there.) After her divorce from Desi Arnaz, she signed with Desilu and even resided at Ball’s house.
Cook made an appearance as one of the young artists being mentored by Desilu co-founder Ball for a musical revue on Christmas Eve 1959 on CBS’ Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse. She made her on-screen debut three weeks later in a U.S. Marshal episode for Desilu that was directed by Robert Altman. She made out with a basketball coach (Jack Weston) in her debut movie, Palm Springs Weekend (1963), which also starred Connie Stevens and Troy Donahue.
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, That Girl, McMillan & Wife, Magnum, P.I., Dynasty, Hart to Hart, Grey’s Anatomy (where she sang “Stormy Weather”), The Gauntlet (1977), American Gigolo (1980), Summer Lovers (1982), and Home on the Range were among the television shows and movies that Cook appeared in (2004).
In March 1964, she and Troupe got married. Robert Osborne (another Desilu actor) served as their best man, while Ball served as their matron of honor. Together, they performed in plays like Father’s Day and The Lion in Winter to raise money for AIDS patients. She is survived by her husband, her sister Regina, her stepson Christopher and his wife Becky, as well as nieces and nephews.
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You can give to the Entertainment Community Fund in her honor (formerly The Actors Fund). Cook performed a solo performance in 2018 at New York’s cozy Feinstein’s/54 Below club, singing and sharing recollections. She declared, “At my age, playing [here] is not a professional move. I have jewelry that fills this room in size.