|Born||Dixie Virginia Carter
May 25, 1939
McLemoresville, Tennessee, U.S.
|Died||April 10, 2010
Houston, Texas, U.S.
|Cause of death||Endometrial cancer|
|Resting place||McLemoresville Cemetery, McLemoresville, Tennessee|
|Residence||Beverly Hills, California,
|Alma mater||University of Tennessee at Knoxville,
University of Memphis
|Known for||Julia Sugarbaker,
|Home town||McLemoresville, Tennessee|
|Spouse(s)||Arthur L. Carter (m. 1967–1977) (divorced; 2 daughters)
George Hearn (m. 1977–1979) (divorced)
Hal Holbrook (m. 1984–2010) (her death)
Mary Dixie Carter
|Family||Melba Helen Heath (sister)|
|Awards||See Awards and Nominations|
Dixie Virginia Carter (May 25, 1939 – April 10, 2010) was an American film, television and stage actress, best known for her role as Julia Sugarbaker in the CBS sitcom Designing Women (1986–1993). She is also known for her roles as Randi King on the CBS legal drama Family Law (1999–2002), Assistant District Attorney, Brandy Henderson on the CBS soap The Edge of Night (1974–1976), and as Gloria Hodge on the ABC series Desperate Housewives (2006–2007).
Carter was born in McLemoresville, Tennessee, and spent many of her early years in Memphis. She attended college at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Southwestern at Memphis (now Rhodes College). She was a graduate of Memphis State with a degree in English.
At school, she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority. In 1959, Carter competed in the Miss Tennessee pageant, where she placed first runner-up to Mickie Weyland. Ms. Carter won the Miss Volunteer beauty pageant at the University of Tennessee in the same year.
in 1967, she began an eight-year hiatus from acting, to focus on raising her two daughters; she returned to the craft in 1974, when she filled in for actress Nancy Pinkerton as Dorian Cramer on One Life to Live, while Pinkerton was on maternity leave. She subsequently was cast in the role of Assistant D.A. Olivia Brandeis "Brandy" Henderson on the soap opera The Edge of Night, on which she appeared from 1974 to 1976. (She went along with the show when it switched from CBS to ABC.) Carter took the role even though some advised her that doing a daytime soap might negatively affect her career. However, it was with this role that Carter was first noticed, and after leaving Edge of Night in 1976, she relocated from New York to Los Angeles and pursued prime-time television roles.
She appeared in series such as Out of the Blue (as Aunt Marion), On Our Own (as April Baxter), Diff'rent Strokes (as the first Maggie McKinney Drummond), The Greatest American Hero (playing a KGB spy), and as the snooty Carlotta Beck on Filthy Rich (1982).
Carter's appearance in Filthy Rich paved the way for her most notable role, that of sharp tongued liberal interior decorator Julia Sugarbaker in the 1986–1993 television program Designing Women, set in Atlanta, Georgia. Filthy Rich was created by Linda Bloodworth Thomason, who also went on to create Designing Women. (In the beginning, without knowing the content of the show, Bloodworth-Thomason's only idea was to create a show starring Carter, and fellow cast-mates Delta Burke, Annie Potts, and Jean Smart. Filthy Rich also featured fellow Designing Women cast member Delta Burke in its cast.) After many persuasion from creators Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and her husband, Harry Thomason, Hal Holbrook, Carter's real-life husband, had a recurring role as attorney Reese Watson. Carter's daughters, Ginna and Mary Dixie Carter, also had guest-star roles as Julia Sugarbaker's nieces, Jennifer and Camilla, in the episode "The Naked Truth" in 1989.
Coincidentally, actress Mary Ann Mobley who replaced Dixie as Maggie on Diff'rent Strokes, guest starred on Designing Women, as Karen Delaporte, a snide head of Atlanta's local historical society who put Julia's home on a tour of homes, and ended up angering Julia.
Famous for portraying strong-minded Southern women, Carter provided the voice of Necile in Mike Young Productions' direct-to-video 2000 cartoon feature The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. She was also in the voice cast of My Neighbors the Yamadas, the English-language dub of Studio Ghibli's 1999 anime movie My Neighbors the Yamadas.
From 1999 to 2002, she portrayed Randi King on the legal drama Family Law, portraying a lawyer for the first time since she played Brandy Henderson on The Edge of Night. (From 1999 - 2000, she also was a cast member on the short-lived sitcom Ladies Man, appearing as a regular on both Ladies Man and Family Law, simultaneously.) In 2004, she made a guest appearance on Law and Order: SVU, playing a defense attorney named Denise Brockmorton in the episode called Home, in which she defended the paranoid mother of two children (Diane Venora) who had manipulated her older son to kill the younger son, after breaking her home rules.
Carter starred in several Broadway musicals and plays. She appeared on and off-Broadway as well, playing the role of Melba Snyder in the 1976 Circle in the Square revival of Pal Joey and diva Maria Callas in Terrence McNally's Master Class, a role created by Zoe Caldwell.
In 2006–07 Carter found a resurgence of fame with a new generation of fans portraying the disturbed Gloria Hodge on Desperate Housewives. Creator Marc Cherry started out in Hollywood as Carter's assistant on the set of Designing Women. Her first and only Emmy Awards nomination was for the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards under the category of Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Gloria Hodge.
Carter gave an interview in 2006 for the feature length documentary, That Guy: The Legacy of Dub Taylor, which received support from Taylor's family and many of Dub's previous co-workers, including Bill Cosby, Peter Fonda, Don Collier, Cheryl Rogers-Barnett and many others. The project was scheduled to have its World Premiere at Taylor's childhood hometown of Augusta, Georgia on April 14, 2007.
Her final film was That Evening Sun, which she filmed on site with her husband Hal Holbrook in East Tennessee in the summer of 2008. The film was produced by Dogwood Entertainment (a subsidiary of DoubleJay Creative) and is based on a short story by William Gay. That Evening Sun premiered at South By Southwest, where it competed for the narrative feature grand jury prize.
In 1967, Carter married businessman Arthur Carter (no relation). They had two daughters (who would later appear in an episode of Designing Women), Mary Dixie and Ginna. Following the birth of her daughters, Carter left acting for eight years to focus on raising her children along with Arthur's three children; Jon, Whendy and Ellen Carter. Later she had grandchildren; Jake, Harrison and Sophia Carter.
She divorced Arthur Carter in 1977, and married Broadway and TV actor George Hearn the same year. Two years later, in 1979, she divorced Hearn. She married for the third time on May 27, 1984, to Hal Holbrook (14 years her senior), who is most noted for his appearances as Mark Twain. Carter renovated her old family home in McLemoresville with the designs of architect Hoyte Johnson of Atlanta. She and Holbrook divided their time between their homes in Beverly Hills, California, and McLemoresville, Tennessee, where Carter's elderly father, Halbert, resided until his death in early 2007, at age 96.
In 1996, Carter published a memoir titled Trying to Get to Heaven, in which she talked frankly about her life with Hal Holbrook, Designing Women, and her plastic surgery during the show's run. She acknowledged, along with other celebrities, having used HGH (Human Growth Hormone) for its anti-aging properties.
Carter was also a registered Republican who described her political views as libertarian. She was interviewed by Bill O'Reilly along with Pat Boone at the 2000 Republican National Convention. Although her Designing Women character, Julia Sugarbaker, was known for her liberal political views and subsequent monologues, Carter disagreed with many of her character's left-of-center commentaries and made a deal with the producers that for every speech she had to make with which she disagreed, Julia would get to sing a song in a future episode. Carter once jokingly described herself as "the only Republican in show business". She was also a strong supporter of the gay community.
Death and legacy
Carter died on April 10, 2010, in Houston, Texas. Her death was announced by her husband, actor Hal Holbrook, who stated the cause as complications from endometrial cancer which was diagnosed earlier in 2010. In addition to Holbrook, she is survived by her daughters from her first marriage: Ginna Carter (of Los Angeles) and Mary Dixie Carter (of Brooklyn) as well as a sister, Melba Helen Heath (of San Anselmo, California) and several nephews and nieces. In addition to family, her funeral, held on April 15, 2010, was attended by Designing Women co-stars Delta Burke, Annie Potts and Jean Smart. Dixie Carter was interred in her hometown, McLemoresville, Tennessee.
Strangely enough, Carter all but predicted her manner of death in her book "Trying to Get to Heaven." In the book, she stated that she'd "rather take the risk of cancer [instead of] winding up the same height as the hall table." She made it clear that she had originally avoided hormones because of the increased risk of uterine (endometrial) cancer.
The Dixie Carter Performing Arts and Academic Enrichment Center (informally called "The Dixie") in Huntingdon, Tennessee is named in honor of Carter.
A public service announcement made by Carter in 2003 describing and offering outreach to sufferers of Spasmodic Torticollis / Cervical Dystonia began appearing in New York and New Jersey, and then across the United States in 2010.
|1974||One Life to Live||Dorian Cramer|
|1974–1976||The Edge of Night||A.D.A Olivia Brandeis Henderson|
|1977||The Andros Targets||Rita||1 episode " The Killing of a Porno Queen"|
|1977–1978||On Our Own||April Baxter||22 episodes|
|1979||Out of the Blue||Marion Richards||12 episodes|
|1981||The Killing of Randy Webster||Billie Webster|
|1982||Cassie & Co.||Evelyn Weller||1 episode "The Golden Silence"|
|Bret Maverick||Hallie McCulloch||1 episode "Hallie"|
|Best of the West||Mae Markham||1 episode "The Pretty Prisoner"|
|Quincy, M.E.||Dr. Alicia Ranier||1 episode "The Face of Fear"|
|The Greatest American Hero||Samantha O'Neill||1 episode " Lilacs, Mr. Maxwell"|
|Lou Grant||Jessica Lindner||1 episode "Suspect"|
|1982–1983||Filthy Rich||Carlotta Beck||15 episodes|
|1984–1985||Diff'rent Strokes||Maggie McKinney||28 episodes|
|1986||Crazy Like a Fox||1 episode "Fox on the Range"|
|1986–1993||Designing Women||Julia Sugarbaker||163 episodes|
|1994||A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Lethal Lifestyle||Louise Archer|
|Gambler V: Playing for Keeps||Lillie Langtry|
|Christy||Julia Huddleston||1 episode "The Sweetest Gift"|
|Diagnosis: Murder||D.A. Patricia Purcell||1 episode "Murder in the Courthouse"|
|1996||Gone in the Night||Ann Dowaliby|
|1997||Fired Up||Rita||2 episodes "The Mother of All Gwens" and "Honey, I Shrunk the Turkey"|
|1999–2000||Ladies Man||Peaches||9 episodes|
|1999–2002||Family Law||Randi King||68 episodes|
|1999||My Neighbors the Yamadas||voice: English version|
|2000||The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus||Necile||voice|
|2001||The Big Day||Carol|
|2003||Comfort and Joy||Frederica|
|Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Denise Brockmorton||1 episode "Home"|
|2005||Hope & Faith||Joyce Shanowski||1 episode " A Room of One's Own"|
|2006–2007||Desperate Housewives||Gloria Hodge||7 episodes|
|2008||Our First Christmas||Evie Baer|
|2009||That Evening Sun||Ellen Meecham|
Awards and nominations
|Year||Award||Category||Series or Play||Result|
|1976||Theatre World Award||Outstanding Actress||Jesse and the Bandit Queen||Won|
|1979||Drama Desk Award||Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play||Fathers and Sons||Nominated|
|1989||Los Angeles Women in Film Festival||Excellence in TV Episodic Comedy||Designing Women||Won|
|2007||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series||'Desperate Housewives||Nominated|
|2009||SXSW Film Festival||Best Ensemble Cast||That Evening Sun||Won|
- ""Designing Women" star Dixie Carter dies at 70". forum.bcdb.com, April 10, 2010
- SXSW unveils lineup
- USA Today November 15, 2000
- Winter, Bill. "Dixie Carter – Libertarian". Advocates for Self-Government.[dead link]
- "'Designing Women’ actress Dixie Carter dies at 70; had roots in West Tennessee". The Commercial Appeal.Com. April 11, 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
- "The View". Official Website. January 31, 2001.
- Metroweekly website/Carter obituary
- Notice of Dixie Carter's death
- "Spasmodic Torticollis / Cervical Dystonia Public Service Announcement featuring Dixie Carter". Healthznews.com.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Dixie Carter|
- Official site
- Dixie Carter at the Internet Movie Database
- Dixie Carter at the Internet Broadway Database
- Dixie Carter at Find a Grave