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Robin Sachs

Robin Sachs

‘Telegraph” obituary.

Robin Sachs, the actor, who has died aged 61, appeared as “an Etonian” in the ITV series Brideshead Revisited in 1981 but went on to greater things in America, taking on the role of Ethan Rayne in Joss Whedon’s cult television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, appearing in Babylon 5 and providing voices for SpongeBob SquarePants and for Zaeed Massani in the sci-fi video games Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect

Robin Sachs
Robin Sachs CREDIT: Photo: GETTY 

Sachs was best known in the role of Ethan Rayne, and built up a substantial fan base for his portrayal of an apparently benevolent owner of a costume shop who, in reality, is a master of the black arts, a skilled sorcerer, “chaos” magician and arch-enemy of Giles (played by Anthony Head) and the Scooby Gang.

Robin Sachs was born in London on February 5 1951, the son of the actors Leonard Sachs (famous as the chairman of The Good Old Days) and Eleanor Summerfield. After leaving school he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, then did the rounds of the provincial repertory circuit before graduating to the West End, where he had small parts in Pirandello’s Henry IV, with Rex Harrison; Pinero’s Gay Lord Quex, with Judi Dench, directed by Sir John Gielgud; Pericles, with Derek Jacobi; and The Astronomer’s Garden by Kevin Hood.

He appeared in numerous British television dramas, including Upstairs Downstairs, Rumpole of the Bailey, Quiller and Gentlemen and Players; he was also the secret agent Hugh Roskill in the 1983 television series Chessgame. His first film role was as a vampire twin in Hammer’s Vampire Circus (1972). He played Thomas Culpepper, Catherine Howard’s lover in Henry VIII and his Six Wives (1972), and featured in The Disappearance (1977) alongside Donald Sutherland.

In the early 1990s he moved to Los Angeles after being invited to appear as a guest-star on the television series Jake and the Fatman and to take over the role of Adam Carrington in the miniseries Dynasty Reunion. 

Sachs remained in the United States, guest starring in many television series. His later film credits include roles in Spielberg’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and Soderbergh’s remake of Ocean’s Eleven (2001). He worked on several sci-fi shows, including Star Trek and Torchwood, and in 1999 appeared disguised under layers of heavy make-up as the evil General Sarris in the satirical comedy Galaxy Quest, co-starring Sigourney Weaver . In 2002 he was Peter Brazier, CEO of Nexexcon in Megalodon.

Although Sachs made his last appearance on Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 2000, he remained popular with Buffy fans, making regular appearances at Buffy conventions around the world.

He was twice married, first to the Welsh actress Siân Phillips, and secondly to the American actress Casey Defranco. Both marriages were dissolved.

Robin Sachs, born February 5 1951, died February 1 2013


Hume Cronyn

“Guardian” obituary from 2003

Hume Cronyn

Unlike these two other pairings, they were an odd couple physically – she was angular and imposing; he was short and weedy. The English-born Tandy’s voice was clear and piercing; the Canadian Cronyn’s voice was nasal and querulous. But following their marriage in 1942 (two years after Tandy’s divorce from Jack Hawkins), they appeared in scores of plays and half a dozen films together. Each also had their own distinguished careers. 

Cronyn was born in London, Ontario, into one of Canada’s most prominent families. His father, Hume Blake Cronyn, was a leading banker and politician, and his mother, Frances Labatt, was connected with the Labatt brewery. After a strict but privileged upbringing, he studied law at McGill University, Montreal, where he acted in student productions before going on to the American Academy of Dramatic Art. During the war, he produced, directed and appeared in revue for the Canadian active services canteen and toured US military camps. 

It was Alfred Hitchcock who gave Cronyn his first screen role in Shadow Of A Doubt (1943), playing Herbie Hawkins, an oddball neighbour obsessed with murder who does not know that the family next door is housing a real killer. The same year, in The Cross Of Lorraine, Cronyn played a French PoW discovered to be spying for the Germans; he is exposed by his fellow inmates and shot by the guards. It was the first of his many weasel parts, though an accident nearly prevented him from having any future career at all. 

During the filming of Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944), in which Cronyn was the meek radio operator, he was dragged under the water of the studio tank and almost drowned while trapped beneath a boat. Happily, he was saved by a lifeguard whom Hitchcock had posted near the tank for just such an eventuality. 

Cronyn was nominated for an Oscar for his role as the friend of concentration camp escapee Spencer Tracy in Fred Zinnemann’s The Seventh Cross (1944), in which Tandy – in her first film – played his wife. She then played his daughter (though she was two years older than him) in The Green Years (1946), based on AJ Cronin’s novel. Variety magazine claimed that he “wreaks every bit of tightfistedness and little-man meanness out of the role of head of the house that takes the small boy in”. 

Better still was Cronyn’s performance in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), as the unctuous attorney who successfully defends the illicit lovers (Lana Turner and John Garfield) on a murder charge, a character closer to the spirit of the James Cain novel than anyone else in the film. 

At the same time, Cronyn had been appearing spasmodically in films, notably playing Louis Howe, the asthmatic friend of President Franklin Roosevelt (Ralph Bellamy) in Sunrise At Campobello (1960), Deborah Kerr’s divorce lawyer in Elia Kazan’s The Arrangement (1969) and one of a homosexual couple in Mankewicz’s There Was A Crooked Man (1970). 

After convincingly playing the scientist Robert Oppenheimer in The Beginning Of The End (1947), a documentary-style story about the making of the first atomic bomb, Cronyn returned to “little-man meanness” in Jules Dassin’s powerful prison drama Brute Force (also 1947); second billed after Burt Lancaster, his sadistic warden is a chilling portrait of evil. Another odious character was his snivelling anatomy professor in Joseph Mankiewicz’s People Will Talk (1951), playing Cary Grant’s adversarial colleague who feels more at home dissecting corpses than talking to humans. 

After this, Cronyn and Tandy decided to concentrate on theatre for the next two decades. Two of those years were taken up on Broadway in Jan de Hartog’s two-hander The Fourposter, which followed a couple from their wedding night to old age and death. The fact that the two stars were actually married gave their expert performances an extra poignancy. 

Subsequently, they alternated between Broadway, regional theatres, Stratford, Ontario, and the Tyrone Guthrie theatre in Minneapolis, where they appeared mostly in the classics, with Cronyn taking on Shylock, Bottom, Richard III, Harpagon in Molière’s The Miser, and Willie Loman (opposite Tandy) in Death Of A Salesman. 

In 1964, Cronyn received a Tony and the New York drama critics’ award for his Polonius – a part he was born to play – in John Gielgud’s production of Hamlet, with Richard Burton in the title role. In the 1970s, he and Tandy, who were elected to the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1974, played a loveless couple in Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance, and inmates of an old people’s home in The Gin Game, in New York and London. 

It was in the 1980s, however, that Cronyn and Tandy were discovered by a new generation of filmgoers when they appeared as an eccentric elderly couple in several movies, particularly Cocoon (1985) and its sequel, Batteries Not Included (1987), in which they fight a greedy estate agent with the help of aliens. After Tandy’s death in 1994, Cronyn continued to work, most especially in Marvin’s Room (1996), where, as Leonardo DiCaprio’s dying grandfather, he was almost wordless, but as eloquent as ever. 

He is survived by his second wife, Susan Cooper, three children from his first marriage and two stepchildren. 

· Hume Cronyn, actor, born July 18 1911; died June 15 2003


Charles Vance

Charles Vance

Charles Vance certainly made his mark on the Theatre World and launched the careers of many both on and off stage. With a passion for all he did and a pride in his work, we honour the late Charles Vance who during a career spanning over 40 years produced over 180 pantomimes.

Charles Vance, a self styled anarchronism and a leading champion of rep theatre giving  hundreds of actors, stage managers and designers their first opportunities in the world of the professional theatre. He enjoyed his role as the last of the old-time actor managers, often seen at first nights with a silver-topped cane, once owned by the redoubtable Victorian actor Henry Irving, and wearing a  green velvet jacket. There was always something raffish about Vance, who was proud of his origins as an Irish Jew, the son of a dealer in leather goods and the nephew of Harold Goldblatt, who founded the Ulster Group Players. At the age of seven, he was heard on BBC Radio’s Children’s Hour. At Queen’s University, Belfast,  where he read law, he joined its amateur dramatic club, which he found mediocre. He first appeared onstage at the city’s Grand Opera House. After university, he joined a theatre company

that toured Ireland with the plays of Shakespeare. There followed a spell at the Gate, in Dublin, which he described as “like going to heaven”.

After a prolific career as an actor, Vance launched his own production company in 1960 with his wife Imogen Moynihan, the daughter of the distinguished Liberal peer, the second Lord Moynihan. Their first production was Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, which was staged at the Empire Theatre, now the Little, in the Norfolk resort of Sheringham.

Their first full season followed a year later at the new Civic Theatre in Chelmsford. There were further seasons in Torquay, Cambridge, Eastbourne, Hastings, Weston-super-Mare, Whitby, Wolverhampton and at the Leas Pavilion, Folkestone, which Vance bought in 1976. In 1987, he instituted the Summer Play Festival at the Manor Pavilion, Sidmouth, which continued every year until last year, when seat prices forced him to abandon the enterprise.

A typical Sidmouth season was a clever mix of 13 plays, offering something for everyone, including two Rattigan plays – Vance knew the dramatist well – two Ayckbourns, Jane Eyre and Private Lives. Work by Francis Durbridge took the place of Agatha Christie after an international media production company took control of the latter author’s copyright. Throughout a career that lasted nearly 50 years, Vance mounted hundreds of touring productions, ranging from Stop the World –I Want to Get Off to The Merchant of Venice. He produced 180 pantomimes all over Britain, and in the latter part of his life he became known for his world premieres of stage adaptations of Ealing comedies, starting with Kind Hearts and Coronets in 1998.

As a publisher and editor, he founded the British Theatre Directory and was, uniquely, twice president of the Theatrical Management Association.

Charles Vance, who was born Charles Goldblatt on December 6, 1929, died on January 13 at the age of 83


John Abbott

John Abbott obituary in “The Independent” in 1996 by Tom Vallance.

With his wide, slightly bulging eyes, drooping lower lip and clipped diction, John Abbott was one of the screen’s most distinctive character actors and one of its finest.

A veteran of dozens of performances on stage, screen and television, the British-born actor had a solid background in the theatre before establishing himself as a Hollywood reliable, creating a gallery of often small but memorable roles. His por-trayals in Jane Eyre (1943) and The Woman in White (1947) are often cited when classic suppor-ting performances are discussed.

Born in London in 1905, he was a commercial artist when he substituted for a sick friend in an amateur production which was seen by the actress Sybil Thorndike, who remarked, “Now there is a young man who knows how to make an entrance!” His entrance into the professional theatre came in a London revival of Aurengzebe (1934). Then, after repertory in Watford and Crewe, he was asked by Tyrone Guthrie to join the Old Vic in 1936: the period that followed, including roles as Nathaniel in Love’s Labours Lost and Malvolio in Twelfth Night.


In 1937 he was part of the legendary production of Hamlet performed in Elsinore with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, along with Alec Guinness as Osric and Anthony Quayle as Laertes. The cold winds and teeming rain that dogged the company gave added resonance to Claudius’s line, delivered by Abbott, umbrella in hand, “Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens?”.

He made his film debut in Conquest of the Air (1935) and was in an early BBC television production, The Harmfulness of Tobacco in 1937, but concentrated on theatre prior to the outbreak of war, when he was attached to the British Embassy in Stockholm, his work involving coding and decoding.

In 1941 he was in California and about to return to England when he was offered a role in Shanghai Gesture. It was the start of a prolific screen career that included roles in Mrs Miniver (1942),The London Blackout Murders (1942, a rare leading role) and memorably in Jane Eyre as the half-mad brother of the first Mrs Rochester. In The Vampire’s Ghost (1945) he had the leading role as a sympathetic vampire and the following year made his Broadway debut in He Who Gets Slapped.

The 1946-47 period was a prime one for Abbott in Hollywood – he was a member of the court in Anna and the King of Siam (1946), a cellist indignant when Bette Davis tries to bribe him in Deception (also 1946), and best of all, his snivelling, asthmatic Frederick Fairlie, uncle of twin sisters in The Woman In White (1948).

Abbott’s performance in The Woman in White prompted Warners to offer him a long-term contract but he turned it down, preferring to divide his time between Hollywood and Broadway. In 1944 Tennessee Williams had written a one-act play Auto-da-Fe (his only verse play) for Abbott. Other Broadway appearances included Lillian Hellman’s Montsarrat (1948) and Jean Anouilh’s The Waltz of the Toreadors (1957).

Abbott worked steadily until 1987, his films including Madame Bovary (1949), Gigi (1958) as Chevalier’s valet, Gambit (1967), and The Jungle Book (1967) as the voice of one of the wolves, and his prolific television work including The Man from Uncle, Bewitched, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Then he retired, stating: “I haven’t the slightest urge ever to work again.” He remained active socially and pursued his interests in art and music.

In 1944 he had been offered a leading role on Broadway in Mary Chase’s Harvey, but argued that the writer was wrong to have the play’s imaginary six-foot rabbit visible on stage and left the production. Later Chase followed his advice. When asked about missing this chance of stardom, Abbott maintained he had no regrets: “My goal was always simply to do good work without having to run about looking for jobs.”

Tom Vallance

John Abbott, actor: born London 5 June 1905; died Los Angeles 24 May 1996.


Arthur O’Connell

O’Connell was born on March 29, 1908 in Manhattan, New York. He made his legitimate stage debut in the middle 1930s, at which time he fell within the orbit of Orson Welles‘ Mercury Theatre. Welles cast O’Connell in the tiny role of a reporter in the closing scenes of Citizen Kane (1941), a film often referred to as O’Connell’s film debut, though in fact he already had appeared in Freshman Year (1938) and had costarred in two Leon Errol short subjects as Errol’s conniving brother-in-law.

After numerous small movie parts, O’Connell returned to Broadway, where he appeared as the middle-aged swain of a spinsterish schoolteacher in Picnic – a role he played in the 1956 film version, earning an Oscar nomination in the process. Later, the jaded looking O’Connell frequently was cast as 40ish losers and alcoholics; in the latter capacity he appeared as James Stewart‘s boozy attorney mentor in Anatomy of a Murder (1959), and the result was a second Oscar nomination.

In 1959, O’Connell also played the part of Chief Petty Officer Sam Tostin, engine room chief of the fictional World War II submarine USS Sea Tiger, opposite Cary Grant and Tony Curtis in Operation Petticoat. In 1961, O’Connell played the role of Grandpa Clarence Beebe in the children’s film Misty, the screen adaptation of Marguerite Henry‘s story of Misty of Chincoteague.  In 1962, he portrayed the father of Elvis Presley‘s character in the motion picture Follow That Dream, and in 1964 in the Presley-picture Kissin’ Cousins. In the same year, O’Connell portrayed the idealist-turned-antagonist Clint Stark in The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, which has become a cult classic, and in which O’Connell’s is the only character other than star Tony Randall to appear as one of the “7 faces.” O’Connell continued appearing in choice character parts on both television and films during the 1960s, but avoided a regular television series, holding out until he could be assured top billing. 

On Christmas Day, 1962, O’Connell was cast as Clayton Dodd in the episode “Green, Green Hills” of the western series Empire, starring Richard Egan as the rancher Jim Redigo. This episode features Dayton Lummis as Jason Simms and Joanna Moore as Althea Dodd. In 1966, he guest-starred as a scientist who regretfully realized that he has created an all-powerful android in an episode of the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, titled “The Mechanical Man.” In the February 1967 episode “Never Look Back” of the TV series Lassie, he played Luther Jennings, an elderly ranger who monitors the survey tower at Strawberry Peak and who takes it hard when he finds he’ll lose his job when the tower is slated for destruction.

Ill health forced O’Connell to reduce his acting appearances in the middle 1970s, but the actor stayed busy as a commercial spokesman, a friendly pharmacist who was a spokesperson for Crest.

At the time of his death from Alzheimer’s disease in California in May 1981, O’Connell was appearing by his own choice solely in these commercials. O’Connell is interred at Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York


Joanna Lumley

Joanna Lamond LumleyOBEFRGS (born 1 May 1946) is a British actress,[1] presenter, former model, author, television producer and activist. 

She won two BAFTA TV Awards for her role as Patsy Stone in the BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous (1992–2012), and was nominated for the 2011 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for the Broadway revival of La Bête. In 2013, she received the Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards and in 2017, she was honoured with the BAFTA Fellowship award.

Lumley’s other television credits include The New Avengers (1976–1977), Sapphire & Steel (1979–1982),  Sensitive Skin (2005–2007), and Jam & Jerusalem (2006–2008). Her film appearances include On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Trail of the Pink Panther (1982), Shirley Valentine (1989), James and the Giant Peach (1996), Ella Enchanted (2004), Corpse Bride (2005), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), and Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016). In addition she had a cameo role in several episodes of Are You Being Served (His & Hers and German Week) which was written by Jeremy Lloyd, whom she had both married and divorced three years previously.

Lumley is an advocate and human rights activist for Survival International and the Gurkha Justice Campaign. She supports charities and animal welfare groups, such as Compassion in World Farming and Vegetarians’ International Voice for Animals. She is also patron of Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity and the Farm Animal Sanctuary. She is also known as ‘daughter of Nepal’ in Nepal.


Roderic Lovell


Dickie Moore

Dickie Moore

The Guardian obituary by Ronald Bergan in 2015

Dickie Moore, who has died aged 89, was an angelic-looking child actor whose big brown eyes lit up many a movie melodrama in the 1930s. From the age of four, his cherubic features got him cast regularly as a poor little rich boy, the son of a single parent or the child being fought over by estranged parents. Rarely a brat, Moore was the least rascally of the group of mischievous kids in the short film comedy series Our Gang (renamed Little Rascals for TV), six episodes of which he appeared in (1932-33).

However, after having acted with stars of the magnitude of James Cagney, Spencer Tracy, Barbara StanwyckMarlene Dietrich and Paul Muni, Moore managed the awkward transition to puberty and a later adaptation to a career in public relations.

Born conveniently in Los Angeles, Moore made his screen debut at the age of 11 months in the silent film The Beloved Rogue (1927), representing John Barrymore’s character, the poet François Villon, as a baby. Two years later, he was already in demand from different studios, which helped to support his parents while his banker father was unemployed during the Depression.

He soon got his first review in the New York Times for Passion Flower (1930). “Dickie Moore is charming … His chatter is natural because he means most of what he is called upon to say … Almost every time Dickie spoke a line the audience was convulsed with laughter.”

In 1931, Moore was the half-Native American child of Warner Baxter and Lupe Vélez in Cecil B DeMille’s The Squaw Man (later known as The White Man). According to Moore, “DeMille was a complete and total egotist who didn’t give a damn about anyone but himself. He hit me. I was a five-year-old kid and he hit me!” Moore had more pleasant memories of Stanwyck when playing her son, the centre of his mother’s existence, in William Wellman’s So Big! (1932). He also had a key role in Josef von Sternberg’s Blonde Venus (1932), bright as a button trying to reunite his separated parents (Dietrich and Herbert Marshall).

In Disorderly Conduct (1932), Moore plays cop Spencer Tracy’s nephew, who is dressed in a little policeman’s uniform when he is accidentally shot and killed by a gangster. With Tracy again, Moore is a wide-eyed baseball fan in Frank Borzage’s Man’s Castle (1933).

It was not surprising that Moore was chosen to play the title role in Oliver Twist (1933), the second film adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel. (In the 1922 silent version, the role had been taken by Jackie Coogan.) Oliver is described in the film (and novel) as “a pale, thin child, somewhat diminutive in stature and decidedly small in circumference”. However, Moore, though small, seems rather well fed and decidedly cheery, his naturalness contrasting with the rather hammy performances around him.

Already a veteran of more than 50 features, when Moore reached his 10th birthday he appeared in two Warner Bros biopics directed by William Dieterle and starring Muni: The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936) – in which he is a patient bitten by a rabid dog and cured by Pasteur – and as Captain Alfred Dreyfus’s son in The Life of Emile Zola (1937).

Yet, despite his success, he recalled that, “Every time I got in front of the cameras, I felt like it was an x-ray machine. It was like I was ashamed of or embarrassed about what was revealed to everyone who was watching me.”

Moving into his teens, when handsome replaced cute, Moore played reluctant soldier Gary Cooper’s brother in Howard Hawks’s Sergeant York (1941). This was followed by Miss Annie Rooney (1942), in which he was cast opposite another former child star, Shirley Temple, three years his junior and also suffering growing pains. The film contained the over-publicised scene in which Moore as a bespectacled rich boy administers Temple’s first romantic screen kiss; actually a chaste peck on her dimpled cheek. At one stage, she tells her mother, “He isn’t a boy. He’s 16.”

Moore, going on 18, continued in movies, notably as a premature playboy (Don Ameche took the role of Henry Van Cleve as an adult) in Ernst Lubitsch’s Heaven Can Wait (1943), until he served in the second world war as a correspondent for Stars and Stripes magazine in the Pacific. After attending Los Angeles City College, majoring in journalism, he returned to acting in Jacques Tourneur’s splendid film noir Out of the Past (1947), in which he was very touching as Robert Mitchum’s deaf and speech-impaired gas station assistant. In 1949, Moore produced and narrated an Oscar-nominated short called Boy and the Eagle, in which he played a disabled boy who discovers a wounded bald eagle and nurses it back to health, until one day it saves his life.

Moore crowned his stage career on Broadway in George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan (1956-57) by playing Brother Martin Ladvenu, a sympathetic young priest who wants to save Joan’s life. Some years later, in 1966, after a battle against alcohol and drugs, Moore founded a public relations firm, Dick Moore and Associates, which he ran until 2010.

In 1984, Moore wrote Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (But Don’t Have Sex or Take the Car), in which he interviewed more than 30 former child stars, comparing their lives with his. In almost all cases what he discovered was an adult life with more than its share of breakdowns and failed marriages. Moore was divorced twice, finally finding happiness with the former MGM teen singing star Jane Powell, whom he met when interviewing her for the book. They were married in 1988.

She survives him, as does a son, Kevin, from his first marriage, and a sister, Pat.

• Dickie Moore (John Richard Moore Jr), actor, born 12 September 1925; died 7 September 2015


Seana Kerslake

Seana Kerslake

Seána Kerslake  is an Irish actress. She is known for portraying the role of Aisling O’Dowd in RTÉ2 comedy-drama Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope (2016–2018).[5][4] In 2017, she was named one of sixteen young actors by Screen International as a Star of Tomorrow. In 2020, Kerslake was ranked at number 50 in The Irish Times list of the greatest Irish film actors.


Julie Hagerty

Julie Hagerty

Julie Beth Hagerty (born June 15, 1955) is an American actress and former model. She starred as Elaine in the films  Airplane! (1980) and Airplane II: The Sequel (1982). Her other film roles include A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982), Lost in America (1985), What About Bob? (1991), Freddy Got Fingered (2001), A Master Builder (2014), and Marriage Story (2019).

Hagerty was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the daughter of Harriet Yuellig (née Bishop), a model and singer, and Jerald William “Jerry” Hagerty, Jr., a musician. Her brother Michael Hagerty was also an actor. Her parents later divorced. Hagerty attended Indian Hill High School. She was signed as a model for Ford Models at 15, and spent summers modeling in New York City. She moved there in 1972 and worked at her brother’s theater group; she also studied with actor William Hickey.

Hagerty made her off-Broadway debut in 1979, starring in Mutual Benefit Life at her brother’s theater, The Production Company. In 1983 she appeared Off-Broadway at the Vandam Theatre in Shel Silverstein’s ‘Wild Life’ directed by Art Wolff. It was an ensemble theatre piece co-starring Christopher Murney, W.H. Macy, Henderson Forsythe, Conard Fowkes, Jody Gelb, Howard Lee Sherman and Raynor Scheine. She continued appearing on stage, including starring in a Broadway version of The House of Blue Leaves. Her first film role was in All That Jazz, but her small part was cut out of the finished film. She was subsequently cast opposite Robert Hays in the parody film, Airplane! It was released in June 1980 and became the third-highest grossing comedy in box office history at that time, behind Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978).[6] Airplane! established Hagerty as a noted comedic actress.

Hagerty spent the 1980s starring in a number of theatrical films, ranging from the well-reviewed Albert Brooks film Lost In America and Woody Allen‘s A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy to the badly received Beyond Therapy. Her roles often involved a naive or spaced-out character who seems to be unaware of whatever chaos was surrounding her, as exemplified in Airplane! and Airplane II: The Sequel. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Hagerty mostly appeared in made-for-television movies or supporting roles in Hollywood films, including the ’90s comedies What About Bob? and Noises Off, as well as a part in the 2005 film Just Friends and 2006’s She’s the Man.

In 1991, she starred alongside Fran Drescher and Twiggy in Princesses, a sitcom that aired for five weeks on CBS. Hagerty had walked off set after four episodes amid poor ratings and negative reviews. She was cast in the 1994 Designing Women spin-off Women of the House, but was committed to another project when filming began, so Valerie Mahaffey substituted for her in several episodes. She eventually joined the cast, filmed two episodes, and resigned, handing the role back to Mahaffey, who bowed out after one final appearance. In 1998, she starred in the short-lived UPN sitcom Reunited.

In 2000, she narrated the audiobook version of The Trolls, a children’s novel by Polly HorvathIn 2002, she appeared in the Broadway revival of Mornings at Seven. In 2003, she began a recurring role as a babysitter on Malcolm in the Middle. She appeared as Hazel Bergeron in 2081, the film adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut‘s short story “Harrison Bergeron“. Starting in 2011, she took over as the voice of Carol, Lois‘s sister, on Family Guy. In 2013, she starred in A Master Builder and appeared in a series of Old Navy commercials as a winking flight attendant. In 2015, she made another cameo appearance as a flight attendant in Larry Gaye: Renegade Male Flight Attendant. In 2017, she appeared in a recurring role as a pet parapsychologist on Trial & Error. In 2018, she was cast as a series regular in the ABC comedy pilot Steps.