Katherine Helmond

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Katherine Helmond
Helmond at the 41st Primetime Emmy Awards in 1989
Katherine Marie Helmond

(1929-07-05)July 5, 1929
DiedFebruary 23, 2019(2019-02-23) (aged 89)
Years active1955–2019
Known forSoap
Who's the Boss?
Everybody Loves Raymond
(m. 1957; div. 1962)
David Christian
(m. 1962)

Katherine Marie Helmond (July 5, 1929 – February 23, 2019) was an American actress. Over an acting career spanning six decades, she was best known for her starring role as Jessica Tate on the sitcom Soap (1977–1981) and her co-starring role as Mona Robinson on Who's the Boss? (1984–1992). Helmond also played Doris Sherman on Coach (1995–1997) and Lois Whelan (the mother of Debra Barone) on Everybody Loves Raymond (1996–2004). She also appeared as a guest on several talk and variety shows.

Helmond had featured roles in a number of films including Alfred Hitchcock's Family Plot (1976), Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits (1981) and Brazil (1985), and Garry Marshall's Overboard (1987).[1] She also voiced Lizzie in the Cars film franchise by Disney/Pixar between 2006 and 2017.

Early life[edit]

Helmond was born on July 5, 1929, in Galveston, Texas, the only child of Thelma (née Malone) and Joseph P. Helmond.[1] She was raised by her mother and grandmother, both devout Catholics. She attended a Catholic primary school and appeared in school plays.[1]

For a semester, she attended Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, and appeared in its film (Unusual Films Production) Wine of Morning.[1]


After her stage debut in As You Like It, Helmond began working in New York City in 1955. She later ran a summer theatre in the Catskills for three seasons and taught acting in university theatre programs. She made her uncredited television debut in 1962, but did not begin to appear on television regularly until 1973.[1] She also acted on stage, earning a Tony award nomination for her performance on Broadway in Eugene O'Neill's The Great God Brown (1973).[2] Her other appearances in Broadway productions included roles in Private Lives, Don Juan, and Mixed Emotions.[3]

Helmond appeared in such feature films as Family Plot, Time Bandits, Brazil, in which she played the mother of Jonathan Pryce's character, and Overboard. In 1983, she studied at the American Film Institute's Directing Workshop. She picked up Emmy nominations for her role as Mona Robinson in Who's the Boss and as Lois Whelan in Everybody Loves Raymond. She also received acclaim for her stage performance in Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues.[4]

Helmond in 1979

Helmond appeared in The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975) as Emma Borden, the title character's sister.[1] She appeared in an episode of the short-lived 1976 CBS adventure series, Spencer's Pilots, starring Gene Evans. Helmond gained prominence as Jessica Tate, the ditzy matriarch of the Tate family in Soap (1977–1981) on ABC.[1] From 1984 to 1992, she played the role of Mona Robinson on the ABC sitcom Who's the Boss?.[1] Helmond also appeared in a 1993 episode of The Upper Hand, the British version of Who's the Boss?.

From 1995 to 1997, she starred in the ABC sitcom Coach as Doris Sherman, eccentric owner of the fictional Orlando Breakers professional football team. From 1996 to 2004, she had a recurring role on Everybody Loves Raymond as Lois Whelan (Ray Barone's mother-in-law). On July 25, 2010, she guest-starred on A&E Network's The Glades and as Caroline Bellefleur on HBO's True Blood.[1] She was also the voice of Lizzie in the Cars film franchise.

Award nominations[edit]

Helmond was nominated for Broadway's 1973 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic) for Eugene O'Neill's The Great God Brown. She was nominated for an Emmy for her role on Soap four times in a row (1978–1981) as Best Actress in a Comedy Series. In 1988 and 1989, she was nominated as Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role on Who's the Boss?. In 2002, she was nominated as Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in Everybody Loves Raymond.[5] She won two Golden Globe awards for Who's the Boss? and Soap.[2]

Personal life[edit]

In 1957, Helmond married George N. Martin. After their divorce in 1962, she married her second husband, David Christian; they remained married until her death, residing in Los Angeles, New York City, Long Island, and London.[2] She and Christian had a history as students of Zen.[6][7]


Helmond died on February 23, 2019, from Alzheimer's disease at her home in Los Angeles, aged 89.[8][2] Her death was announced a week later.[9]

Selected filmography[edit]


Year Film Role Notes
1971 Believe in Me Saleslady
The Hospital Mrs. Marilyn Mead
1975 The Hindenburg Mrs. Mildred Breslau
1976 Family Plot Mrs. Maloney
1981 Time Bandits Mrs. Ogre
1985 Brazil Mrs. Ida Lowry
Shadey Lady Constance Landau British film
1987 Overboard Edith Mintz
1988 Lady in White Amanda Harper Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress (1990)
1992 Inside Monkey Zetterland Honor Zetterland
1998 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Desk Clerk at Mint Hotel
2006 Cars Lizzie Voice role[2]
2011 Cars 2 Voice role[2]
2017 Cars 3 Voice role[2]
2018 Frank & Ava Betty Burns Final film role[10]


Year Title Role Notes
1962 Car 54, Where Are You? Betty Lou Creco (uncredited) 1 episode
1972 Gunsmoke Ena Spratt in "The Judgment." 1 Episode
1973 The Bob Newhart Show Dr. A.J. Webster 1 episode
1974 Mannix Mrs. Sylvia Jarrud/Martha Cole
1974 The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman Lady at House TV film
1974 Larry Maureen Whitten TV film
1975 The Legend of Lizzie Borden Emma Borden TV film
1975 The Six Million Dollar Man Middy Episode: "The White Lightning War"[11]
1977–81 Soap Jessica Tate 85 episodes
Won — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy (1980)[2]
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1978–1981)[12][13][14][15]
1979 $weepstake$ Sarah Episode: "Lynn and Grover and Joey"
1979–83 Benson Jessica Tate 2 episodes
also as director
1982 Rosie: The Rosemary Clooney Story Frances Clooney TV film
1983 Faerie Tale Theatre Jack's mother 1 episode
1984–92 Who's the Boss? Mona Robinson 196 episodes
Won — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1989)[2]
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1986)[16]
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (1988–1989)[17][18]
1986 Girls on Top Mrs DuPont 1 episode “Mr Yummie Brownie”
1993 The Upper Hand Madame Alexandra 1 episode "Tunnel of Love"
1995–97 Coach Doris Sherman 11 episodes
1996–2004 Everybody Loves Raymond Lois Whelan 14 episodes
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (2002)[2]
2002 Mr. St. Nick Queen Carlotta TV film
2007 A Grandpa for Christmas Roxanne "Roxie" Ritter TV film
2010 The Glades Evelyn 1 episode
Melissa & Joey Mrs. Geller 1 episode
2011 True Blood Caroline Bellefleur 1 episode
Harry's Law Mrs. Gold 1 episode
2012 Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales Lizzie (voice) Episode: "Time Travel Mater"[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Katherine Helmond Biography". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Actress Katherine Helmond dies aged 89". BBC News. March 1, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  3. ^ "Katherine Helmond: Credits". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  4. ^ "Helmond, Lee and Mills Joins Vagina Monologues OB, May 15 – June 24". Playbill. May 15, 2001. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  5. ^ "54th Emmy Awards Nominees and Winners: Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series – 2002". Television Academy. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  6. ^ Wilson, Amy (May 18, 1986). "She's The Boss". Texas Weekly Magazine. pp. 4–7. Retrieved December 11, 2021.
  7. ^ Burstein, Patricia (December 12, 1977). "Katherine Helmond Cleans Up on 'Soap' While Her Sculptor Husband Takes a Sabbatical". People. Retrieved December 11, 2021.
  8. ^ Barnes, Mike (March 1, 2019). "Katherine Helmond, the Man-Crazy Mother on 'Who's the Boss?' Dies at 89". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 11, 2021.
  9. ^ "'Soap', 'Who's the Boss?' Star Katherine Helmond Dies at 89: Reports". WMAQ News. March 1, 2019. Retrieved December 11, 2021.
  10. ^ "Katherine Helmond of 'Soap,' 'Brazil,' 'Who's the Boss?' Dead at 89". Extra. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  11. ^ ""The Six Million Dollar Man" The White Lightning War (TV Episode 1975)". IMDb. Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  12. ^ "Nominees/Winners 1978". Television Academy. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  13. ^ "Nominees/Winners 1979". Television Academy. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  14. ^ "Nominees/Winners 1980". Television Academy. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  15. ^ "Nominees/Winners 1981". Television Academy. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  16. ^ "Winners & Nominees 1986". Golden Globes. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  17. ^ "Nominees/Winners". Television Academy. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  18. ^ "Nominees/Winners 1989". Television Academy. Retrieved March 4, 2019.

External links[edit]