Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Frances Sternhagen, ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘Cheers’ Star, Dead at 93

Frances Sternhagen, ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘Cheers’ Star, Dead at 93

Actress Frances Sternhagen, who captured hearts as a Tony Award-winning actress as well as on TV, has died at 93 years old. Sternhagen died on Monday of natural causes in New Rochelle, N.Y., according to her son, Tony Carlin. He confirmed her death to the New York Times.

Sternhagen also had a lot of fans with her work on TV. She played Dr. Carter’s grandmother on ER (Noah Wyle played Carter). Sternhagen also played the mother of Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) on Cheers. She picked up two Emmy Awards nominations for her work there.

As far as movie work is concerned, Sternhagen made a distinct impression in her role as the doctor who helps Sean Connery’s cop in Peter Hyams’ 1981 sci-film Outland. In Misery, she played the sheriff’s wife Virginia, who was part of the search for James Caan’s novelist character.

Additional film work Other films in which she appeared include Julie and Julia, Starting Over, Independence Day, and Doc Hollywood.

Frances Sternhagen Played Bunny MacDougal on ‘Sex and the City’

In a role similar to that of Millicent Carter on ER, Sternhagen recurred on Sex and the City as Bunny MacDougal, who is the mother of Trey (Kyle MacLachlan). She earned a 2002 Emmy nomination for her performance.

Sternhagen also appeared from 2006-2012 as Willie Rae Johnson, the Southern mother of Kyra Sedgwick’s character on The Closer. She had most recently appeared onscreen in Rob Reiner’s 2014 feature film And So It Goes, starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton.

Sternhagen was also known for her stint on NBC’s Another World as Jane Overstreet in the early 1970s.

As for her Broadway career, Sternhagen was seven times a Tony nominee. She won in 1974 for featured actress in a play for Neil Simon’s The Doctor. She also won in 1995 for featured actress in a play for a revival of The Heiress.

Her other Tony nominations were for Lorraine Hansberry’s The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, featured actress, in 1972; Equus, featured actress, 1975; Angel, actress in a musical, 1978; On Golden Pond, actress in a play, 1979; and Paul Osborn’s Morning’s at Seven, featured actress in a play, 2002.

Actress Created Role For ‘On Golden Pond’

Starring on Broadway in the original production of On Golden Pond in 1979, Sternhagen created the role of the mother, Ethel Thayer, played by Katharine Hepburn in the 1981 feature adaptation. More recently, the actress appeared on the Rialto in 2005 in Steel Magnolias as Clairee (the role played by Olympia Dukakis in Herbert Ross’ 1989 movie) and, the same year, in Edward Albee’s Seascape.

Frances Hussey Sternhagen was born in Washington, D.C. At Vassar College, she studied drama and was head of the drama club. She graduated in 1951. She studied at the Perry Mansfield School of the Theatre and with Sanford Meisner at the Group Theater.