Brazil & Soap Comic Actress – Katherine Helmond

katherine-helmondKatherine Helmond, who starred in the controversial TV show ‘Soap’, played a cosmetic surgery-addicted mother in ‘Brazil, and portrayed a man-crazy mother on TV’s ‘Who’s the Boss?’ took her Final Taxi this week at age 89.

I fell in love with Katherine Helmond when I watched her on ‘Soap’, the televised “story of two sisters — Jessica Tate and Mary Campbell.” The wealthy Jessica, played by Helmond, had a philandering husband (Robert Mandan) and a sarcastic servant named Benson (Robert Guillaume). Benson was a spin-off show on which Helmond showed up.

I was not able to watch ‘Soap’ for the first couple of years because in 1977 I lived in a state that blocked the show. It was considered morally reprehensible because it had a gay character on it – something unheard of today.

In 1982, on ‘Who’s the Boss?’, Helmond played the randy mother of  divorced advertising executive Angela (Judith Light), who employs a retired St. Louis Cardinals second baseman (Tony Danza) as a live-in housekeeper.

Helmond appeared in three films by Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam — as Mrs. Ogre, the seafaring cannibal in ‘Time Bandits’ (1981), as Jonathan Pryce’s wealthy cosmetic surgery-addicted mother in ‘Brazil’ (1985) whose face was famously filmed encased in plastic wrap,  and as a hotel clerk in ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ (1998).

I always had a crush on Katherine Helmond. I loved her for all the kooky characters she portrayed while maintaining a breath of innocence about her. For example take the scene in ‘Soap” which  Helmond finds out her nephew Jodie ( played by Billy Crystal )  is gay.
“You know, Jodie, when we young, there were no such thing as homosexuals,” says Helmond as Jessica

“Yes, there were, Aunt Jessica,” Crystal’s character replied. “Homosexuals go way back in history.”

Ms. Helmond: “Who?”

Crystal: “Alexander the Great was gay; Plato was gay.”

Ms. Helmond: “Plato?”

As Crystal nodded, Helmond said, in an alarmed voice: “Mickey Mouse’s dog was gay?”

Comic genius!

Writer- Jeff Burson;  Editor – Lesa Burson

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