Actress Nancy Walker Remembered As Rare Talent
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Actress Nancy Walker, whose roles ranged from the domineering mother of ″Rhoda″ to Rosie the waitress on paper towel commercials, was mourned Thursday as a rare talent.
″We’ve lost a deep and dear buddy,″ said Betty White, co-star of television’s ″The Golden Girls,″ on which Miss Walker made guest appearances in 1986 and 1987.
The diminutive, redheaded actress died at her home Wednesday following a two-year battle with lung cancer. She was 69.
Miss Walker’s portrayal of Ida Morgenstern, Valerie Harper’s mother on ″Rhoda,″ earned her an Emmy nomination in 1975.
″The loss is intense. I truly feel like I’ve lost a relative,″ Ms. Harper said. ″She was as good as it gets. ... She could get a laugh, as they say, when it was blood from a stone. She was unique, absolutely unique.″
Miss Walker also was famous as Rosie, the waitress always mopping up after klutzy customers in commercials for Bounty paper towels.
She is survived by her husband of 40 years, vocal coach and writer David Craig; her daughter, Miranda Craig; and a sister, Betty Lou Barto.
Miss Walker’s most recent work was a starring role in Fox Broadcasting Co.′ s ″True Colors″ comedy. She played a Jewish mother whose daughter is married to a black. Family friend Frank Liberman said Miss Walker had just completed the season’s final episode.
″She was very open,″ said Liberman, ″a terribly talented comedian, singer and dancer who started as a child star.″
Miss Walker’s television roles also included Mildred the housekeeper on ″McMillan and Wife,″ for which she received three Emmy nominations (1973, 1974 and 1975).
She also was one of a few women ever to direct and act on Broadway and in television.
In 1956, she made her Broadway directing debut with ″UTBU,″ starring Thelma Ritter and Tony Randall. Beginning in the 1970s, she directed episodes of ″The Mary Tyler Moore Show,″ ″Rhoda″ and ″Alice.″
Born in Philadelphia to vaudeville parents, Miss Walker became a New York stage actress at age 19 in ″Best Foot Forward.″ That led to comic roles in musicals including ″On the Town,″ ″Look Ma, I’m Dancing″ and ″Do Re Mi.″
She moved to Los Angeles in 1970, and turned to television and film roles.