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Katherine Helmond, Beloved as Mona on Who's the Boss? Dead at 89

'You were an instrumental part of my life,' said former costar Alyssa Milano

Malcolm Venable

Katherine Helmond, perhaps most familiar to '80s kids for playing Judith Light's flirtatious mom, Mona, on Who's the Boss?died of complications from Alzheimer's on Feb. 23, her talent agency APA said Friday.

In addition to Who's the Boss?,Helmond is best known for starring as Jessica Tate on ABC's Soap from 1977-81, alongside Billy Crystal and Robert Guillaume. That role earned her four Best Actress Emmy Award nominations. But it was her role as Mona on Who's the Boss? -- where she traded barbs with Light, Tony Danza and nurtured her granddaughter, played by a young Alyssa Milano -- that endeared her to a new generation. Milano tweeted out a tribute to her TV grandma on Friday.

Born July 5, 1929, in Galveston, Texas, Helmond got her start in school plays, moving on to theater in Hartford, Conn., and Trinity Repertory Theater in Providence, Rhode Island, before moving to Los Angeles as part of a production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, The House of Blue, which won her a Drama Critics Award. Her first TV role was a guest-starring role in an episode of Gunsmoke; after appearing in four Broadway shows -- including a role in Eugene O'Neill's The Great God Brown that earned her a Best Supporting or Featured Actress Tony nomination -- she found success in television with her roles on Soap and Who's the Boss? followed by parts on Coach, Everybody Loves Raymond and True Blood. She voiced Lizzie in all three of the Disney/Pixar Cars films. She's survived by her husband of 75 years David Christian.

Katherine Helmond

Katherine Helmond