Judith Lowry

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For the artist, see Judith Lowry (artist).
Judith Lowry
Judith Lowry Mother Dexter Wedding Phyllis 1976.JPG
Lowry as Mother Dexter in "Mother Dexter's Wedding".
Born Judith Carter Ives
(1890-07-27)July 27, 1890
Fort Sill, Oklahoma, U.S.[1]
Died November 29, 1976(1976-11-29) (aged 86)
Greenwich Village, New York City, U.S.[1]
Cause of death Heart Attack
Resting place Long Island National Cemetery
Residence Studio City, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Actress
Years active 1913–1921, 1952–1976[1]
Home town New York City, New York
Spouse(s) Rudd Lowry (1920–1965; his death); 9 children
Children Elizabeth J. Lowry (b. 1921)
Samuel Addison Lowry (1922–1991)
James Rudd Lowry (1924–1998)
George W. Lowry (1926–1990)
John F. Lowry (1926–2001)
Thomas C. Lowry (1928–1987)
Ann H. Lowry (b. 1929)
Rayphield Semmes Lowry (1931–1996)
Martha Adams Lowry (b. 1934)

Judith Lowry (born Judith Carter Ives; July 27, 1890 – November 29, 1976) was an American actress, best known for her television work. She made nearly 30 appearances on TV and in film during her career in addition to numerous appearances on stage both on and off-Broadway.

Early life[edit]

Judith Carter Ives was born in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where her father was temporarily stationed. She was the daughter of Mildred Elizabeth (née Megeath; July 17, 1864–1923) and Francis Joseph Ives (July 19, 1857 – November 27, 1908). Her father was a career soldier in the U.S. Army as an army surgeon, attaining the rank of Major.[2]

Her father saw action in the Spanish–American War, serving initially in Cuba and later in the Philippines,[2] before retiring to Washington, D.C. in 1908, where he died. As such, she had a nomadic childhood moving from place to place, as her family followed her father from military post to military post, until finally settling in Washington D.C. Through her father Lowry is a descendent of American Revolutionary War soldier, Asahel Ives.[3] Both of Lowry's parents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[4][5]


Lowry made her stage debut in 1913 in a stock company in Washington, D.C. Later in 1921 when she became pregnant with her first child she would retire from acting to raise her family.[1] She resumed her acting career in 1952 after her youngest of 9 children, Martha, turned 18. She made several stage appearances and labored in occasional bit parts in film and television from the 1950s until she began to get more substantial roles in her eighties. Lowry had an uncredited role in Valley of the Dolls (1967) as Aunt Amy. She had character parts in such films as The Anderson Tapes and Cold Turkey.[6]

Her best-remembered role is that of the acid-tongued, no nonsense Mother Dexter on the 1970s sitcom Phyllis, which starred Cloris Leachman. This was Lowry's last major acting role because she died of a heart attack during the series' final season. One of the last episodes she filmed before her death, "Mother Dexter's Wedding", marked the final appearance of veteran actor Burt Mustin, who played her equally superannuated bridegroom, Arthur Lanson. By the time the episode aired in December 1976, Lowry had died at age 86, and the 92-year-old Mustin, who died in January 1977, was too ill to see it. After the airing of "Mother Dexter's Wedding", five more episodes of Phyllis followed in which Lowry appeared.[1][6]

She also appeared on stage, most notably off Broadway in The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds,[7] and on Broadway in a small role in Archibald MacLeish's drama J.B.[8]


Judith met her future husband, actor Rudd Lowry, while performing on stage. Rudd had recently returned from serving in the US Army during World War I as a Staff sergeant in an army hospital[9] when they met. Judith and Rudd had six sons and three daughters. All six of her sons served with the United States Armed Forces.


Selected films[edit]

Title Year Role Notes
Ladybug Ladybug 1963 Grandmother
Andy 1965
The Trouble with Angels 1966 Sister Prudence
Valley of the Dolls 1967 Aunt Amy Uncredited
The Night They Raided Minsky's 1968 Mother Annie
Sweet Charity 1969 Old Lady on Park Bench Uncredited
Husbands 1970 Stuart's Grandmother
Cold Turkey 1971 Odie Turman
The Anderson Tapes 1971 Mrs. Hathaway
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds 1972 Nanny
Superdad 1973 Mother Barlow


Show Year Role Episode
1. Studio One 1954 1 Episode
2. The Phil Silvers Show 1956 Josie 1 Episode
3. Car 54, Where Are You? 1963 Trixie 1 Episode
4. The Patty Duke Show 1965 Miss Tansy 1 Episode
5. The Jackie Gleason Show 1966 Old Lady 1 Episode
6. Dark Shadows 1968 Hands of Cassandra 1 Episode
7. Maude 1974–1975 Aunt Polly 2 Episodes
8. Kojak 1975 Lily Weed 1 Episode
9. Phyllis 1975–1977 Sally "Mother" Dexter 23 Episodes


Judith collapsed and died from a heart attack while walking down a Greenwich Village street with her son Rayphield Semmes Lowry on November 29, 1976.[1] She was buried next to her husband, Rudd Lowry, in Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, New York. she was 86 years old.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Associated Press (November 30, 1976). "Judith Lowry 'Phyllis' star, dies at 86". The Day (New London, Connecticut). p. 23. 
  2. ^ a b United States Army (July 4, 1902). Spanish–American War Military and Naval Service Records (Report). US government. 
  3. ^ U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Application (Report). The National Society of Sons of the American Revolution. May 31, 1894. 
  4. ^ Vicki C. (May 29, 2005). "Maj Francis Joseph Ives". American Major Surgeon, US Army. Find a Grave. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  5. ^ Vicki C. (May 29, 2005). "Mildred Elizabeth Ives". Find a Grave. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Judith Lowry at the Internet Movie Database
  7. ^ Judith Lowry at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
  8. ^ Judith Lowry at the Internet Broadway Database
  9. ^ Staff (April 7, 2006). "Rudd Lowry". Find a Grave. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 

External links[edit]