Actress Kate Williamson Dies at 82

David LaPorte
Kate Williamson

The widow of character actor Al Ruscio, she is perhaps best known for her role in Ellen DeGeneres' 1990's sitcom.

Actress Kate Williamson, whose film and television career spanned more than two decades, died Friday evening at her home in Encino, her manager, Judy Fox, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. She was 82. 

Williamson died mere weeks after her husband, veteran character actor Al Ruscio, 89,  died Nov. 12. "She had been in failing health for quite some time," Fox said in a statement. 

The actress is perhaps best known for her role in Ellen DeGeneres' 1990's sitcom Ellen as opinionated teacher Mrs. Rodgers, a member of Ellen's quirky book club.

Her film résumé includes Racing With the Moon (1984); Disclosure (1994); Bye Bye Love (1995); Touch (1997); The Last Time I Committed Suicide (1997); The Hi-Lo Country (1998) and Dahmer (2002).

In addition to Ellen, she was on such TV series as Police Story; JAG; NYPD Blue; Murder, She Wrote; Profiler; Home Improvement; The Paper Chase and 7th Heaven.

Williamson's birth name was Robina Jane Sparks. She married Ruscio in 1954. "They were the epitome of true and forever sweethearts," Fox said. 

In theater, Williamson performed at such stops as the South Coast Repertory, the La Jolla Playhouse, the San Jose Repertory Theatre, the Arizona Theatre Company, L.A. TheatreWorks, Ensemble Studio Theatre L.A. and the Victory Theatre in Burbank.

She received a Dramalogue Award for her performance in Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party.

Williamson and Ruscio also held workshops to train actors.

Survivors include their children Elizabeth, Michael, Nina and Maria. The family asks that in lieu of flowers donations be made to The Actors Fund.

Mike Barnes contributed to this report.