'Who's the Boss' star Katherine Helmond dies aged 89
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Actress Katherine Helmond, an Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actress who played two very different matriarchs on the ABC sitcoms "Who's the Boss?" and "Soap," has died, her talent agency said Friday. She was 89.

Helmond died of complications from Alzheimer's disease last Saturday at her home in Los Angeles, talent agency APA said in a statement.

A native of Galveston, Texas, Helmond's credits date back to the 1950s, and she worked steadily in small roles through the decades. But her real fame and all seven of her Emmy nominations didn't start arriving until she was nearly 50.

She was probably best known for playing Mona Robinson, Judith Light's mother on "Who's the Boss?", which also starred Tony Danza and a young Alyssa Milano. She won a best supporting Golden Globe for her work in 1989.

"My beautiful, kind, funny, gracious, compassionate, rock," Milano mourned on Twitter. "You were an instrumental part of my life. You taught me to hold my head above the marsh! You taught me to do anything for a laugh! What an example you were!"

Katherine Helmond appears at the premiere of Disney Pixar's "Cars" at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina. /VCG File Photo

Katherine Helmond appears at the premiere of Disney Pixar's "Cars" at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina. /VCG File Photo

"Katherine Helmond was a remarkable human being, and an extraordinary artist; generous, gracious, charming and profoundly funny," Light said in a statement. "She taught me so much about life and inspired me indelibly by watching her work. Katherine was a gift to our business and to the world."

An only child, raised by her mother and grandmother, who began acting while a girl in Catholic school, Helmond began her professional career in theater and returned to it often, earning a Tony Award nomination in 1973 for her Broadway role in Eugene O'Neill's “The Great God Brown.”

She was a favorite of director Terry Gilliam, who put her in his films "Brazil," "Time Bandits," and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

Her major break came with "Soap," a parody of soap operas that aired from 1977 to 1981. She played wealthy matriarch Jessica Tate, one of two main characters on the show, which co-starred Robert Guillaume and was also a breakthrough for Billy Crystal, who played her nephew.

She was nominated for Emmys for all four seasons of the show and won best actress in a comedy Golden Globe in 1981.

Helmond kept working into her 80s doing mostly voice work, most notably as the Model T Lizzie in the Pixar "Cars" films.

A memorial is being planned.

Source(s): AP