Marcia Strassman, actress & singer, died at 66

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gffyutb67b7ht7Dead, Marcia Ann Strassman on October 24, 2014, she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer that had spread to her bones.

She was an American actress and singer, best known for her roles as Nurse Margie Cutler in M*A*S*H, as Julie Kotter in Welcome Back, Kotter and as Diane Szalinski in the 1989 feature film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; its sequel Honey, I Blew Up the Kid; and the 3-D film spin-off Honey, I Shrunk the Audience! which was shown at several Disney theme parks through mid-2010.

Born in New York City on April 28, 1948 and raised in Passaic, New Jersey.

Among her earliest acting credits was an appearance in an episode of The Patty Duke Show.

In 1963, at age 15, she succeeded Liza Minnelli in the role of Ethel Hofflinger in the Off-Broadway musical Best Foot Forward.

She landed her best-known role as Julie Kotter, the wife of title character high school teacher Gabe Kotter (Gabriel “Gabe” Kaplan) in the ABC comedy series Welcome Back, Kotter in 1975.

The series lasted four years. Strassman was told that co-star Kaplan wanted her off the show and she stated in an interview that working on the show made her “miserable”.

Kaplan read the interview and realized series producer James Komack was separately telling the two actors they didn’t like each other, and Kaplan informed Strassman that he actually wanted more balance between Kotter’s work and home environments, which would afford Strassman the chance to do more on the series.

Kaplan, a guest host on The Tonight Show that week, had Strassman on to tell the story as an interview guest; she recalled the incident decades later on a Biography Channel special about the history of Kotter.

Despite the steady work, she was fairly disillusioned at playing the relatively sane (i.e., overlooked) role of Julie Kotter.

Most of the focus landed squarely on her husband, a Brooklyn schoolteacher (the show was based on Kaplan’s real-life experiences as a teacher) and his interaction with student “Sweathogs” Robert Hegyes, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Ron Palillo and pre-megastar John Travolta.

Stuck with essentially a reactive character, she gamely stayed with the show throughout its run.

“Kotter” would be her only hit series despite a handful of attempts, but she managed to persevere in later years with guest spots on such shows as Magnum, P.I. (1980), Amazing Stories (1985), Highlander (1992), Sweet Justice (1994) and Providence (1999).

She would regain major attention one more time as (again) a wholesome wife, playing nerdy Rick Moranis’ spouse in the surprise Disney hit Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989).

 


 

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