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Marge Redmond, who played the wry Sister Jacqueline on The Flying Nun and starred for a decade as a friendly country innkeeper in Cool Whip commercials, has died. She was 95.
Redmond’s death on Feb. 10 was revealed in the latest quarterly SAG-AFTRA magazine. No other details of her passing were immediately available.
Redmond also had small roles in three notable films: She portrayed Walter Matthau’s wife in Billy Wilder’s The Fortune Cookie (1966); was interviewed by Bruce Dern about a missing jeweler in Alfred Hitchcock’s final movie, Family Plot (1976); and played a jilted lover who gets her revenge on a killer (Jerry Adler) in Woody Allen’s Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993).
She was married to actor Jack Weston, a fellow Clevelander, from 1950 until their divorce in the 1980s. (Weston died in 1996.)
ABC’s The Flying Nun, starring Sally Field and set at the Convent San Tanco in San Juan, Puerto Rico, aired for three seasons, from 1967-70, with Redmond appearing on 80 episodes. She also set up the story for each installment as the show’s narrator and received an Emmy nomination after season two.
Shortly before she first appeared as Sister Jacqueline, Redmond played another nun, Sister Liguori, opposite Rosalind Russell in The Trouble With Angels (1966), directed by Ida Lupino. She said that surely helped her get her Flying Nun gig.
When Angela Lansbury went on vacation, Redmond stepped in for the star to portray Mrs. Lovett in the original Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd in 1979.
Later, she had a recurring role in 1991-92 as Ben’s (Andy Griffith) housekeeper Mrs. McCardle on NBC’s Matlock.
Appearing for years in 30-second increments as the friendly innkeeper Sarah Tucker, head of the Tucker Inn, in commercials for the non-dairy whipped topping Cool Whip (“Tastes fresh as homemade”) helped Redmond supplement her bank account quite nicely.
“She works five days a year and makes six figures,” Weston once volunteered.
The eldest daughter of a firefighter, Redmond was born in Cleveland on Dec. 14, 1924. When she had trouble passing a class in typing that she needed to graduate from Lakewood High School in 1942, her friend suggested she collect the credits from the drama group instead.
“I got nervous the first time I was supposed to be in a school play,” she told TV columnist Mel Heimer in a 1968 interview, “and then somebody pushed me out onto the stage, and you know what? I was home. It was wonderful. Being out there was better than being home in my own living room.”
She worked in stock musicals and on radio shows around Cleveland and met Weston (real name: Jack Weinstein) in 1948 when both were in a production of Anything Goes. They moved to New York and got married at City Hall in 1950.
After Redmond appeared in the Broadway musical revue Phoenix ’55, also featuring Nancy Walker, she and Weston were hired for Bells Are Ringing. He had a small role, and she served as Judy Holliday’s standby in the Comden-Green musical comedy.
“She had very bad bursitis in her shoulders,” Redmond said of Holliday in a 1981 story for People magazine. “When she came in with different-colored slings to match all her costumes, I knew I’d never get on.”
Three months into production, she and Weston both quit, bought a Volkswagen and headed for Los Angeles, “where suddenly all the TV seemed to be happening.” They had an accident in Iowa, but they eventually got there.
“We flipped a coin to see if we should go on to Hollywood,” Weston told The New York Times in 1976. “Two out of three, it came up that we should. So we boarded a plane and went.”
They appeared together on episodes of Johnny Staccato in 1959 and The Twilight Zone in 1963 and, after returning to New York in 1975, on Broadway in the original production of Neil Simon’s California Suite.
Redmond also showed up on such films as Sanctuary (1961), The Disorderly Orderly (1964), Johnny Got His Gun (1971) and Hear No Evil (1993) and on television on My Three Sons, Dr. Kildare, My Favorite Martian, The Munsters, The Rockford Files, Hunter, Columbo, Murphy Brown, Married … With Children and Law & Order.
She also did voice work for two installments of the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise.
Rhett Bartlett contributed to this report.
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