Sunday, October 26, 2014

Marcia Strassman Dead at 66


Actress Marcia Strassman died October 25 in her Sherman Oaks, California, home, after a seven-year fight with breast cancer, her sister Julie Strassman confirmed. She was 66. She was best known for her roles in TV comedy Welcome Back Kotter and the film Honey I Shrunk the Kids and its sequel. Strassman also served on the national board of the Screen Actors Guild.

"She was the funniest, smartest person I ever met," said Julie Strassman of her sister. "And talented. She knew everything. Now I won't be able to call her and ask her questions."

Strassman was born Apri 28, 1948 in New York City, and grew up in New Jersey.

She began her career as a teen model and then starred in the Broadway musical "Best Foot Forward" in 1965, at the age of 15.

She came to Los Angeles when she was just 18, her sister said. She was initially a singer in the late 1960s with some modest local success, most notably with "The Groovy World of Jack and Jill" and "The Flower Children." As an actress, she did commercial and soap opera work, and appeared in three episodes of The Patty Duke Show. She left show business for a time before returning in a recurring role as nurse Margie Cutler in M*A*S*H.

In 1975, Strassman had a breakout role in the ABC hit Welcome Back Kotter, opposite comedian Gabe Kaplan, playing his frequently exasperated wife Julie. That show, about a teacher returning to the tough high school and neighborhood where he grew up, ran through 1979.

Strassman worked steadily thereafter, most notably in major roles on several mostly short-lived TV shows, including Booker, Tremors, Third Watch, Providence and Noah Knows Best.

Her biggest film success came playing the wife and mother opposite Rick Moranis in Disney's hit comedy Honey I Shrunk The Kids and its equally successful sequel, Honey I Blew Up The Kids. She also appeared in 1985's The Aviator with Christopher Reeve and Roseanna Arquette.

Strassman was active in fundraising for various progressive and social causes, including breast cancer research and treatment even before she was diagnosed, her sister said. She was a member of the Screen Actors Guild national board, elected to a three-year term in 2010. Julie Strassman said her sister continued to sing, and had many other skills and a wide group of friends throughout Hollywood.

"She had more friends than anyone in the world," Julie Strassman said. "She could do anything. She made clothes, made curtains, knitted sweaters for friends. She could dance."

Strassman is survived by her daughter, New York costume designer Elizabeth "Lizzie" Collector, whom Julie Strassman called her sister's "great love." She is also survived by brother Steven Strassman.

Services are pending, but Julie Strassman asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in her sister's name to organizations fighting cancer.

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