Katherine Helmond

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Katherine Helmond
Katherine Helmond.jpg
Helmond at the 41st Primetime Emmy Awards (1989)
Katherine Marie Helmond

(1929-07-05)July 5, 1929
DiedFebruary 23, 2019(2019-02-23) (aged 89)
OccupationActress, director
Years active1955–2019
Known forSoap
Who's the Boss?
George N. Martin
(m. 1957; div. 1962)

David Christian
(m. 1962; her death 2019)

Katherine Marie Helmond (July 5, 1929 – February 23, 2019) was an American film, theater, and television actress and director. Over her five decades of television acting, she was known for her starring role as ditzy matriarch Jessica Tate on the sitcom Soap (1977–1981) and her co-starring role as feisty mother Mona Robinson on Who's the Boss? (1984–1992). She also played Doris Sherman on Coach and Lois Whelan (the mother of Debra Barone) on Everybody Loves Raymond. She also appeared as a guest on several talk and variety shows.

Helmond had supporting roles in films such as Alfred Hitchcock's Family Plot (1976) and Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985).[1] She also voiced Lizzie in the Cars film trilogy by Disney/Pixar between 2006 to 2017.

Early life[edit]

Helmond was born on July 5, 1929, in Galveston, Texas, the only child of Thelma (née Malone; May 13, 1910 – October 10, 1981) and Joseph P. Helmond (March 11, 1904 – January 31, 1983).[1] She was raised by her mother and grandmother, both devout Roman Catholics. She attended a Catholic primary school and appeared in school plays.[1]

For a semester she attended Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, and appeared in its film (Unusual Films Production) Wine of Morning.[1]


After her stage debut in As You Like It, Helmond began working in New York City in 1955.[1] She later ran a summer theatre in the Catskills for three seasons and taught acting in university theatre programs.[1] She made her television debut in 1962, but did not achieve a high profile until the 1970s.[1] She also acted on stage, earning a Tony award nomination for her performance on Broadway in Eugene O'Neill's The Great God Brown (1973).[2] Her other appearances in Broadway productions included roles in Private Lives, Don Juan and Mixed Emotions.[3]

Helmond appeared in such feature films as Family Plot (1976), Time Bandits (1981) and Brazil (1985), in which she played the mother of Jonathan Pryce's character. In 1983, she studied at the American Film Institute's Directing Workshop. She picked up Emmy nominations for her role as Mona Robinson in Who's the Boss and as Lois Whelan in Everybody Loves Raymond. She also received acclaim for her stage performance in Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues.[4]

Helmond appeared in The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975) as Emma Borden, the title character's sister.[1] She appeared in an episode of the short-lived 1976 CBS adventure series, Spencer's Pilots, starring Gene Evans. Helmond gained prominence as Jessica Tate, the ditzy matriarch of the Tate family in Soap (1977–1981) on ABC.[1] From 1984 to 1992, she played the role of Mona Robinson on the ABC sitcom Who's the Boss?.[1]

From 1995 to 1997, she starred in the ABC sitcom Coach as Doris Sherman, eccentric owner of the fictional Orlando Breakers professional football team. From 1996 to 2004, she had a recurring role on Everybody Loves Raymond as Lois Whelan (Ray Barone's mother-in-law). On July 25, 2010, she guest-starred on A&E Network's The Glades and as Caroline Bellefleur on HBO's True Blood.[1]

Award nominations[edit]

Helmond was nominated for Broadway's 1973 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic) for Eugene O'Neill's The Great God Brown. She was nominated for an Emmy for her role on Soap four times in a row (1978–1981) as Best Actress in a Comedy Series. In 1988 and 1989, she was nominated as Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role on Who's the Boss?. In 2002, she was nominated as Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in Everybody Loves Raymond.[5] She was nominated for Emmy awards seven times.[2]

She had won two Golden Globe awards for Who's the Boss? and Soap.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Katherine Helmond in 1979

In 1957, Helmond married George N. Martin. After their divorce in 1962, she married her second husband, David Christian; they remained married until her death, residing in Los Angeles, New York City, Long Island and London.[2] She and her husband had a history as students of Zen.[6][7]


Helmond died on February 23, 2019 from complications of Alzheimer's disease at her home in Los Angeles aged 89.[8][2] Her death was announced a week later.[9]

Selected filmography[edit]


Year Film Role Notes
1971 Believe in Me Saleslady [1]
The Hospital Mrs. Marilyn Mead [1]
1975 The Hindenburg Mrs. Mildred Breslau [1]
1976 Family Plot Mrs. Maloney [1]
1981 Time Bandits Mrs. Ogre [1]
1985 Brazil Mrs. Ida Lowry [1]
Shadey Lady Constance Landau British film[1]
1987 Overboard Edith Mintz
1988 Lady in White Amanda Harper Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress (1990)[1]
1992 Inside Monkey Zetterland Honor Zetterland [1]
1998 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Desk Clerk at Mint Hotel [1]
2006 Cars Lizzie Voice role[2]
2011 Cars 2 Lizzie Voice role[2]
2017 Cars 3 Lizzie Voice role[2]
2018 Frank and Ava Betty Burns Final film role[10]


Year Title Role Notes
1962 Car 54, Where Are You? Betty Lou Creco (uncredited) 1 episode[1]
1973 The Bob Newhart Show Dr. A.J. Webster 1 episode
1974 The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman Lady at House TV film[1]
1975 The Legend of Lizzie Borden Emma Borden TV film[1]
1977–81 Soap Jessica Tate[1] 85 episodes
Won — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy (1980)[2]
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1978–1981)[11][12][13][14]
1979–83 Benson Jessica Tate 2 episodes
also as director[1]
1982 Rosie: The Rosemary Clooney Story Frances Clooney TV film[1]
1983 Faerie Tale Theatre Jack's mother 1 episode[1]
1984–92 Who's the Boss? Mona Robinson 196 episodes
Won — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1989)[2]
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1986)[15]
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (1988–1989)[16][17]
1995–97 Coach Doris Sherman 11 episodes[1]
1996–2004 Everybody Loves Raymond Lois Whelan 14 episodes
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (2002)[1][2]
2002 Mr. St. Nick Queen Carlotta TV film[1]
2007 A Grandpa for Christmas Roxie Famosa TV film[1]
2010 The Glades Evelyn 1 episode[1]
Melissa & Joey Mrs. Geller 1 episode[1]
2011 True Blood Caroline Bellefleur 1 episode[1]
Harry's Law Mrs. Gold 1 episode[1]
2012 Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales Lizzie (voice) Episode: "Time Travel Mater"[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj "Katherine Helmond Biography". Turner Classic Movies tcm.com. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Actress Katherine Helmond dies aged 89". BBC. March 1, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  3. ^ League, The Broadway. "Katherine Helmond – Broadway Cast & Staff – IBDB". Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  4. ^ "Helmond, Lee and Mills Joins Vagina Monologues OB, May 15-June 24". playbill.com. May 15, 2001. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  5. ^ "54th Emmy Awards Nominees and Winners: OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES - 2002". emmys.com. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  6. ^ "The Victoria Advocate – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  7. ^ "Katherine Helmond Cleans Up on 'Soap' While Her Sculptor Husband Takes a Sabbatical". People Magazine. December 12, 1977. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  8. ^ "Katherine Helmond, the Man-Crazy Mother on 'Who's the Boss?' Dies at 89". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  9. ^ "'Soap', 'Who's the Boss?' Star Katherine Helmond Dies at 89: Reports". NBC Chicago. March 1, 2019. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  10. ^ "Katherine Helmond of 'Soap,' 'Brazil,' 'Who's the Boss?' Dead at 89 | ExtraTV.com". Extra. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  11. ^ "Nominees/Winners 1978". Television Academy. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  12. ^ "Nominees/Winners 1979". Television Academy. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  13. ^ "Nominees/Winners 1980". Television Academy. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  14. ^ "Nominees/Winners 1981". Television Academy. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  15. ^ "Winners & Nominees 1986". goldenglobes. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  16. ^ "Nominees/Winners". Television Academy. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  17. ^ "Nominees/Winners 1989". Television Academy. Retrieved March 4, 2019.

External links[edit]