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'Designing Women,' 'Desperate Housewives' Star Dixie Carter Dead at 70

by Bob Sassone, posted Apr 11th 2010 7:52AM
Dixie CarterJust last night I was watching a TV commercial featuring Dixie Carter, talking to the camera about a terrible disease whose name escapes me at the moment. And tonight comes the news that Carter has passed away at the age of 70. No further details have been released yet.

Carter is probably best known for her role as feisty, outspoken (well, all of the women were pretty feisty and outspoken on that show, weren't they?) Julia Sugarbaker on 'Designing Women,' which ran on CBS for eight years. But younger TV watchers might know her from her role on 'Desperate Housewives' as Gloria, the loopy mom of Orson (she was nominated for an Emmy for the role). But she actually starred in several other TV shows over the years, including 'Family Law,' 'Ladies Man,' 'Filthy Rich,' 'Out of the Blue,' and 'On Our Own,' not to mention numerous guest roles on many other shows. Her first TV role was in the soap 'The Doctors.'

I had completely forgotten that she starred in the later seasons of 'Diff'rent Strokes,' playing Maggie, Arthur Drummond's new wife. When the show moved from NBC to ABC (for one last ill-conceived season), she couldn't do the show because of her commitment to CBS and 'Designing Women' so she was replaced by Mary Ann Mobley. I'm thinking she got the better end of the deal there. She also appeared in several Broadway productions, including 'The King and I,' 'Pal Joey,' 'Carousel,' and 'Thoroughly Modern Millie.'

Carter married actor Hal Holbrook in 1984. They appeared together in several episodes of 'Designing Women' and many other TV shows and made for TV movies. In fact, her last role was with Holbrook in the 2009 TV movie 'That Evening Sun.'

Here's a scene from 'Designing Women,' showing Julia in one of her many feisty moments.

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You are mistaken about Dixie being unable to do another season of Diff'rent Strokes. My understanding is she was let go. There was a year and a half between her last episode of 'Strokes' and the premiere of 'Designing Women'. So her commitment to the second show had nothing to do with her departure from the first.

April 13 2010 at 2:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sad news. I was a fan.

April 11 2010 at 3:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Erica H.

I remember watching Designing Women with my mother. And again on Desperate Housewives as Orson's mother, not his crazy ex wife.. She will be missed.

I found this from a tv website and thought that it was well written about Dixie Carter.

April 11 2010 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have been a fan of Ms. Carters since I was a kid. I still watch reruns of Designing Women to this day. I also loved her stint on DH. I was wondering if anyone was going to catch the typo about her being Orsen's wife instead of his mother.

Anyway my condolences go out to her family and friends.

April 11 2010 at 10:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to shan's comment

yes, she was his mother. Not his ex-wife

April 11 2010 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm sorry to hear about Dixie Carter, she was and alway's be one classy lady, my prayer's go out to her family, may she rest in peace.

April 11 2010 at 10:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She didn't play Orson's wife in Desperate Housewives, but rather his mother.

April 11 2010 at 8:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Filangee's comment


April 11 2010 at 8:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
thom, boise id

the article says played his mom

April 11 2010 at 2:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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