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A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Carol Ann Susi was born in Brooklyn. Born isn’t a strong enough word. Might be better to say that Carol Ann Susi was made out of Brooklyn — tough, street smart, hysterically funny. Her accent seemed to grow stronger every year, as if New York’s most pugnacious borough could use her as a supernatural portal to emerge undiluted in Los Angeles.
Carol Ann would have liked that metaphor — she was a die-hard Doctor Who fan. She was a county fair cooking competition winner and a lover of Halloween horror mazes and the Magic Castle.
She called herself “the one and only.”
Read more ‘Big Bang Theory’ Honors Carol Ann Susi
She studied acting at the HB Studio in New York. She moved to Los Angeles in the 1970s. She became a working television actress beginning with her role as the sassy Monique Marmelstein on The Night Stalker. She appeared on Cheers, Doogie Houser, Mad About You, Just Shoot Me and Six Feet Under. She was a terrible date for George Costanza on Seinfeld. She was a wonderful theater actress.
She arrived at her audition for The Big Bang Theory the same way she arrived everywhere in Los Angeles — by bus. Driving was incompatible with her Brooklyn DNA, so she moved about the City of Angels in public transportation — often with a Tupperware container of fresh-baked biscotti on her lap.
When she read the script for us at the audition, the brass trombone of a voice she would later share with the fictional Mrs. Wolowitz blew our hair back. Chuck Lorre asked her if she could do it a little quieter. “Shoo-uh,” she answered. Then she did it exactly the same way. Maybe louder. We had found Howard’s mother.
She was a lot of three-word phrases with “of” in the middle. She was a ray of sunshine, a force of nature and a buster of balls. She didn’t suffer fools, she worked hard and every time she said something to you, you laughed.
If you asked her about her personal life, she’d tell you she was “done with men.” If you asked why, she’d give you more detail than you wanted.
She was too ill to come into the studio to record her lines for the episode that was to be her last. She recorded them at the hospital and sent them in along with a promise that she would be back at work soon — “bettah than evah.”
Carol Ann Susi — forever of Brooklyn, New York — died early Tuesday morning. She was 62.
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