Monday, September 24, 2007

Actress Alice Ghostley Dies At Age Of 81

Alice Ghostley, the Tony Award-winning actress best known on television for playing Esmeralda on Bewitched and Bernice on Designing Women, has died. She was 81. Ghostley died Friday at her home in Studio City after a long battle with colon cancer and a series of strokes, longtime friend Jim Pinkston said.

Ghostley made her Broadway debut in Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1952. She received critical acclaim for singing The Boston Beguine, which became her signature song. In the 1960s, Ghostley received a Tony nomination for various characterizations in the Broadway comedy The Beauty Part and eventually won for best featured actress in The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window. From 1969 to 1972, she played the good witch and ditzy housekeeper Esmeralda on TV's Bewitched. She played Bernice Clifton on Designing Women from 1987 to 1993, for which she earned an Emmy nomination in 1992. Ghostley's film credits include To Kill a Mockingbird, The Graduate, Gator and Grease.

She was born on Aug. 14, 1926, in Eve, Mo., where her father worked as a telegraph operator. She grew up in Henryetta, Okla. After graduating from high school, Ghostley attended the University of Oklahoma but dropped out and moved to New York with her sister to pursue theater. Ghostley, whose actor husband, Felice Orlandi, died in 2003, is survived by her sister, Gladys.


Bernice was always one of my favorite characters on Designing Women. She will be missed and every time I catch a rerun I will think of Alice.

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