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Actress Nell Carter Died Naturally

May 6, 2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Nell Carter, who played the sassy housekeeper on the 1980s TV sitcom ``Gimme a Break!″ died of natural causes, the coroner’s office said Tuesday.

An autopsy and toxicological tests determined the death was natural because of probable heart disease and diabetes complications, said coroner’s Capt. Deborah Peterson.

Carter died Jan. 23 at age 54 after collapsing in her Beverly Hills home. She had undergone two brain operations in 1992 to fix aneurysms.

Blessed with a big voice and a strong stage presence despite her 4-foot-11 height, she won a Tony Award in 1978 for her sultry turn in the Broadway musical ``Ain’t Misbehavin‴ and an Emmy in 1982 for a TV broadcast of the show, which was a revue of Fats Waller songs. Her quietly soulful number ``Mean to Me″ was a show highlight.

Carter received two more Emmy nominations in 1982 and 1983 for ``Gimme a Break!″ playing a housekeeper to a family headed by a widower who was the town police chief. The show ran from 1981 to 1987.

She also played the cruel orphanage operator Miss Hannigan in the 1997 Broadway revival of ``Annie″ and appeared in the movies ``The Grass Harp″ (1995), ``Modern Problems″ (1981) and ``Hair″ (1979).

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