'Risky Business' Mom Dies at 71
Janet Carroll, a veteran film, TV and stage actress who played Tom Cruise’s mother on vacation in 1983’s Risky Business, died Tuesday in New York after a long illness. She was 71.
During a career that spanned three decades, the Chicago native also had recurring roles in two long-running sitcoms: as the owner of the store in which shoe salesman Al Bundy (Ed O’Neill) works in Fox’s Married … With Children and as the wife of stuffy anchorman Jim Dial (Charles Kimbrough) on CBS’ Murphy Brown.
Carroll also worked regularly on TV’s The Bronx Zoo opposite Ed Asner and The Bonnie Hunt Show and had stints with Brothers and Sisters, Mary, Designing Women, Matlock, Third Rock From the Sun, Law & Order: SVU and Scrubs.
Carroll’s film résumé includes The Killing Time (1987), Memories of Me (1988), Family Business (1989), Talent for the Game (1991), Destiny Turns on the Radio (1995), Forces of Nature (1999), Enough (2002) and the soon-to-be-released College Debts.
On stage, Carroll acted in Lady Windermere’s Fan with Lynn Redgrave and John Lithgow; A Couple of White Chicks, co-starring Cloris Leachman; and Electra, for which she received the Los Angeles Drama-Logue Critics’ Award. She made her Broadway debut in 2005 starring alongside Sutton Foster and Maureen McGovern in the original musical Little Women.
Carroll appeared in eight major musicals every summer for five years at the Kansas City Starlight Theatre, where she began her stage career out of high school. She also served for eight years as the artistic director of The Jazz Series at Simi Valley (Calif.) Cultural Center and performed on tour with the Beverly Hills Unlisted Jazz Band. She recorded a few albums, including 2011’s Lady Be Good.
Carroll co-founded the Victory Ball in Westport, Conn., which annually benefits ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) research, and served on the executive board of directors as vp development for Ginny Mancini’s Society of Singers.
Survivors include her son George and daughter-in-law Lauren. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at Advent Lutheran Church in New York.