Ann Wedgeworth, a Tony Award-winning actress most widely known for roles on sitcoms Evening Shade and Three’s Company, died Thursday following a lengthy illness at a New York area nursing home, her family has announced. She was 83.
Wedgeworth, who won a National Society of Film Critics Award for her tough but poignant performance in 1985’s Sweet Dreams – she played the mother of Jessica Lange’s Patsy Cline – won the 1978 Tony Award for best featured actress in a play for Neil Simon’s Chapter Two.
Born in Abilene, Texas, Wedgeworth moved to New York City in the late 1950s and soon joined The Actors Studio. She debuted on Broadway in 1958’s Make a Million, and went on to take roles is such stage productions as Period of Adjustment and Blues for Mister Charlie. She appeared in A Lie of the Mind, Sam Shepard’s off-Broadway play, in 1985. Her costar in the production, Geraldine Page, had married Wedgeworth’s ex-husband, actor Rip Torn.
Wedgeworth’s other credits include Scarecrow, Bang the Drum Slowly, Thieves, Steel Magnolias, Hard Promises, Love and a .45, and 1977’s Handle with Care, for which she won her first National Society of Film Critics Award.
Among many TV roles, including Filthy Rich and Roseanne (she played the mother of John Goodman’s Dan), Wedgeworth’s Lana Shields of ABC’s Three’s Company became one of her best know. The character was essentially a substitute for Audra Lindley, who had been spun off for her own sitcom The Ropers.
Wedgeworth is survived by husband Ernie Martin, daughters Danae Torn and Dianna Martin. Tony Torn, Danae Torn’s brother, tweeted news of Wedgeworth’s passing yesterday.