Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Elizabeth Hoffman, ‘Sisters’ and ‘Matlock’ Star, Dead at 97

Elizabeth Hoffman, ‘Sisters’ and ‘Matlock’ Star, Dead at 97

Elizabeth Hoffman, known for her portrayal of Beatrice Reed Ventnor, the matriarch in the 90s drama Sisters has died. She was 97. She played the mother to daughters played by Swoosie Kurtz, Sela Ward, Patricia Kalember, and Julianne Phillips for six seasons of the show. Hoffman passed away on August 21 due to natural causes at her residence in Malibu, as shared by her son Chris with The Hollywood Reporter.

Elizabeth Hoffman’s acting career was diverse, with roles in both TV and film, spanning decades. Hoffman gained attention for her portrayal of Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1983 miniseries The Winds of War and the sequel, War and Remembrance. She also played Meryl Streep’s mother in the 90s thriller The River Wild. She also portrayed Ruth, an elderly mother-in-law in 1997’s volcano disaster film, Dante’s Peak, alongside Linda Hamilton. Her character has a particularly painful incident with lave heated river water while rescuing her loved ones.

Hoffman’s character, Bea, sets the plot of Sisters in motion as her four daughters come together to care for her. After her husband’s passing, Bea turns to alcohol and sells the family home. During the show’s run from 1991 to 1996, the actress appeared in 87 out of the 128 episodes. Throughout the series, Bea experiences the loss of another husband and a new daughter enters the picture.

Elizabeth Hoffman Made Her Screen Debut on ‘Little House on the Prairie’

Hoffman, born on February 8, 1926, in Corvallis, Oregon, immersed herself in theater in the vibrant San Fernando Valley. Something of a late bloomer, it was in 1980 that she made her onscreen debut as Miss Mason on Little House on the Prairie. She would return as the character for two more episodes. She made memorable appearances in various iconic 80s TV shows including The Greatest American Hero, The A-Team, Hunter, L.A. Law, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Thirtysomething.

Her film work in the 80s was also eclectic. She appeared in films ranging from Fear No Evil to Born on the Fourth of July. In 1989-90, she made recurring appearances as Judge Mary Russell on five episodes of Matlock. She also flexed her sci-fi action chops as Dr. Catherine Langford in two episodes of Stargate SG-1 in the late 90s.

However, Hoffman never left her first love of the stage. She showcased her talent in various Tennessee Williams plays within the realm of theater. Additionally, she starred in Diane Samuels’ Kindertransport, portraying a compassionate woman who provides shelter to a young Jewish girl.

Surviving her are not only her son Chris, but also her other son Paul, along with her beloved grandchildren Erica, Alison, Lauren, and Lily.