Veteran TV and film actress Ann Morgan Guilbert, known as the spirited neighbor on 1960s sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show and who most recently appeared on the CBS comedy Life In Pieces, died of cancer Tuesday in Los Angeles. Her daughter Nora Eckstein confirmed her mother’s death to the Associated Press. Guilbert was 87.
Guilbert’s decades-long career began in the 1950s as a featured performer and singer in the Billy Barnes Revues. She went on to television, landing her best-known role as beloved neighbor Millie Helper in The Dick Van Dyke Show, which aired in the early 1960s. After that, she appeared in guest roles in several series including the premiere episode of Adam-12, The Andy Griffith Show, That Girl, and Dragnet, among others. Her next big TV role came in the 1990s as Yetta Rosenberg opposite Fran Drescher in The Nanny.
Her feature work includes roles in A Guide For The Married Man, Viva Max!, Grumpier Old Men (as the mother of Sophia Loren’s character), and Nicole Holofcener’s Sundance pic Please Give, for which she shared an Independent Spirit Award in 2011. That same film earned her a Gotham Independent Film Award nomination for best ensemble performance.
She was working steadily until her death, appearing most recently in CBS comedy series Life In Pieces (see photo above). Her other recent TV credits include Getting On, Grey’s Anatomy, Modern Family and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Guilbert was married to writer and producer George Eckstein from 1953 until their divorce in 1966. They had two children together, actress Hallie Todd (Lizzie McGuire) and acting coach Nora Eckstein. After her divorce, she married Guy Raymond, who died in 1997. She is survived by her two daughters.