|Born||Mary Frances Luecke
February 27, 1943
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||September 23, 1998
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|Holy Cross Cemetery|
|Other names||Jennifer Douglas
|Spouse(s)||Thomas J. Escott (1977 – divorced)|
Early life and career
Born Mary Frances Luecke in St. Louis, Missouri, Frann was a child model and appeared in commercials for a local television station while she was at Nerinx Hall High School. At the age of 18, she was voted Missouri's "Junior Miss." She went on to win the 1961 national title of America's Junior Miss and earned a college scholarship. In the role of America's Junior Miss, she starred in a Jam Handy educational film (Prom: It's a Pleasure) extolling the etiquette and fun of the high school prom. Frann studied drama at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and worked as a weather reporter for the NBC station in St. Louis.
In 1964, Frann made her television debut in an episode of the Kraft Suspense Theatre. That same year, she appeared in the television movie Nightmare in Chicago with Carroll O'Connor. In 1966, Frann made her film debut in Nashville Rebel with Waylon Jennings and Loretta Lynn. The movie was a commercial failure. Frann would go on to appear in only one more film, 1976's Woman in the Rain, concentrating on television guest spots and roles in television movies.
In 1974, Frann landed the role of Amanda Howard on the soap opera Days of our Lives. She would remain on the show until 1979. While on Days of our Lives, Frann also made guest appearances on Quincy, M.E., The Rockford Files, Fantasy Island, and WKRP in Cincinnati. In 1982, she starred in the short-lived series King's Crossing with Linda Hamilton. Later that year, she landed her most memorable role as Joanna Loudon, the wife of Vermont inn owner Dick Loudon (Bob Newhart), in the popular sitcom Newhart. The series ran from 1982 to 1990, and was nominated for 25 Emmys and five Golden Globes.
During the run of Newhart, Frann continued acting in various projects. In 1985, she co-starred in the TV movie Gidget's Summer Reunion, and in 1988, she appeared in Dance 'til Dawn with Alyssa Milano, Christina Applegate, and Kelsey Grammer. Frann also co-hosted the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants of 1986 and 1987.
Her last acting role came in the series Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction. Due to the sporadic airing of the series, the episode she was in, "The Curse of Hampton Manor," aired two years after her death.
Outside of her career, Frann was active as a volunteer fund raiser and was involved with charitable works. She was a member of the Celebrity Action Council, a volunteer group of celebrity women who served the women’s outreach of the Los Angeles Mission, for seven years. The night before her death, she had attended a meeting at the Mission where she championed the cause for women in need.
On September 23, 1998, Frann died in her sleep at her home in Beverly Hills, California. An autopsy later determined that she died of a heart attack and also suffered from an undiagnosed scarring of the heart muscle tissue. Her remains are interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
The Rockford FilesValerie Thomas Episode: "Counter Gambit"
|1964||Kraft Suspense Theatre||Annette||Episode: "Once Upon a Savage Night"|
|1966||Nashville Rebel||Molly Morgan|
|1968||That Girl||Pat Crawford||Episode: "Ann vs. Secretary"
Credited as Jennifer Douglas
|1969||Bonanza||Barbara Parker||Episode: "The Running Man"
Credited as Jennifer Douglas
|1971||The Bill Cosby Show||Louise||Episode: "The Miraculous Martin"|
|1972||The Mary Tyler Moore Show||Joanne||Episode: "Some of My Best Friends Are Rhoda"
Credited as Mary Francis
|1972||Hawaii Five-O||Jean Holland||Episode: "Chain of Events"|
|1973||Cannon||Janice Rogers||Episode: "Murder for Murder"|
|1973–1974||Return to Peyton Place||D. B. Bentley||Unknown episodes|
|1974||Apple's Way||Claudine Delacorte||Episode: "The Circus"|
|1974–1979||Days of our Lives||Amanda Howard||Unknown episodes|
|1976||Woman in the Rain||Alternative title: A Hell Black Night|
|1977||The Fantastic Journey||Roxanne||Episode: "Funhouse"|
|1978||The Incredible Hulk||Karen Weiss||Episode: "Stop the Presses"|
|1978||Fantasy Island||Grace Arnold||Episode: Family Reunion/Voodoo|
|1978||The Rockford Files||Ruth Beetson-White||Episode: "A Fast Count"|
|1981||Nero Wolfe||Janet Eaton||Episode: "Wolfe at the Door"|
|1981||WKRP in Cincinnati||Avis Dropkin||2 episodes|
|1982–1990||Newhart||Joanna Loudon||184 episodes|
|1985||Gidget's Summer Reunion||Anne Bedford||Television movie|
|1987||Eight Is Enough: A Family Reunion||Abby Bradford||Television movie|
|1988||Dance 'Til Dawn||Nancy Johnson||Television movie|
|1990||I'm Dangerous Tonight||Martha||Television movie|
|1991||The Hitchhiker||Veronica||Episode: "Secrets"|
|1994||Burke's Law||Brittany Moore||Episode: "Who Killed Good Time Charlie?"|
|1997||Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman||Alice White||Episode: "Toy Story"|
|1998||Diagnosis: Murder||Lucy Caruso||Episode: "Talked to Death"|
|2000||Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction||Bev Conklin||Episode: "The Curse of Hampton Manor"|
- "Prom: It's a Pleasure". Jam Handy. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
- Carter, Bill (1998-09-25). "Mary Frann, 55, Bemused Wife on 'Newhart'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- "Mary Frann, played Bob Newhart's wife on TV series". southcoasttoday.com. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- IMDb, Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction:"The Curse of Hampton Manor" airdate
- Babcock, Tina. "Remembering Mary Frann". bobnewhart.com. Archived from the original on 2006-01-29. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- Errico, Marcus (1998-09-24). ""Newhart" Wife Mary Frann Dies". E! Online. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- "Coroner: 'Newhart's Mary Frann died of heart attack". cnn.com. 1998-11-05. Retrieved 2009-09-24.