Mary Frann

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Mary Frann
Born Mary Frances Luecke
(1943-02-27)February 27, 1943
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died September 23, 1998(1998-09-23) (aged 55)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Heart attack
Resting place
Holy Cross Cemetery
Other names Jennifer Douglas
Mary Fran
Years active 1964–1998
Spouse(s) Thomas J. Escott (1973 - 1983; divorced)

Mary Frann (February 27, 1943 – September 23, 1998) was an American actress best known for her role as Bob Newhart's wife, Joanna Loudon, on the television series Newhart.

Early life and career[edit]

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.[1] Frann studied drama at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and worked as a weather reporter for the NBC station in St. Louis.[2][3]

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 daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives. She would remain on the show until 1979. While on the series, Frann also made guest appearances on Quincy, M.E., The Rockford Files, Fantasy Island, and WKRP in Cincinnati. She was originally cast as Sue Ellen Ewing on the CBS prime-time drama Dallas in 1978, but she was soon replaced by Linda Gray, whom the producers felt better physically fit the part. 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.[4]

Charity work[edit]

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.[5]


On September 23, 1998, Frann died in her sleep at her home in Beverly Hills, California.[6] An autopsy later determined that she died of a heart attack and also suffered from an undiagnosed scarring of the heart muscle tissue.[7] Her remains are interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1964 Kraft Suspense Theatre Annette Episode: "Once Upon a Savage Night"
1966 Nashville Rebel Molly Morgan
Stewardess (as Jennifer Douglas) Episode: Snoopy Smart vs. the Red Baron 1968 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
1975 The Rockford Files Valerie Thomas Episode: "Counter Gambit"
1976 Woman in the Rain Alternative title: A Hell Black Night
1977 The Fantastic Journey Roxanne Episode: "Funhouse"

- 1977 "Quincy M.E." Christine Hopwood Episode: "No Deadly Secret"

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
1990 Fatal Charm Susan
1990 Lucky/Chances Clementine Duke Miniseries
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"


  1. ^ "Prom: It's a Pleasure". Jam Handy. Retrieved 7 February 2013.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  2. ^ Carter, Bill (1998-09-25). "Mary Frann, 55, Bemused Wife on 'Newhart'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  3. ^ "Mary Frann, played Bob Newhart's wife on TV series". Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  4. ^ IMDb, Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction:"The Curse of Hampton Manor" airdate
  5. ^ Babcock, Tina. "Remembering Mary Frann". Archived from the original on 2006-01-29. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  6. ^ Errico, Marcus (1998-09-24). ""Newhart" Wife Mary Frann Dies". E! Online. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  7. ^ "Coroner: 'Newhart's Mary Frann died of heart attack". 1998-11-05. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 

External links[edit]