Tony winner also a TV sidekick


Alice Ghostley, a Tony-winning actress known to television viewers for her roles as ditsy sidekicks on "Bewitched" and "Designing Women," died Friday of cancer at her home in Studio City. She was 81.

Ghostley made her Broadway debut in "Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1952," the hit revue in which she received critical acclaim for singing the satirical send-up "The Boston Beguine," which became her signature song. Her co-stars were Paul Lynde, Eartha Kitt and Carol Lawrence.

Ghostley won the Tony Award for best featured actress in a play in 1965 for "The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window," by Lorraine Hansberry.

She received a Tony nomination two years earlier for various characterizations in the 1962-63 Broadway comedy "The Beauty Part" with Bert Lahr. Ghostley last appeared on Broadway in "Annie," taking over the role of Miss Hannigan, the wicked orphanage supervisor, in 1978 and playing the part until 1983.

Ghostley made more than 90 television appearances in a career that spanned six decades. She was a regular on ABC's comedy "Bewitched" from 1966-72, playing Esmeralda, a shy, bumbling witch whose spells never worked, who caused havoc whenever she sneezed and who turned invisible when she became nervous.

From 1986-93 she played a more-than-usual wacky recurring neighbor, Bernice Clifton, on the hit show "Designing Women." She also appeared in "Evening Shade," "Love, American Style" and "Mayberry R.F.D."

Ghostley appeared in 30 films, including "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Graduate," a role that earned her an Emmy nomination.