Ann Wedgeworth, ‘Three’s Company’ & ‘Evening Shade’ Actress, Dies @ 83

Ann Wedgeworth, familiar to TV fans as man-hungry Lana on Three's Company (1979) and as Merleen on Evening Shade (1990-1994), has died, We Love Soaps reports. She was 83.

With Cliff Gorman (1936-2002) — yes, the queen from The Boys in the Band (1970) — in Chapter Two

Wedgeworth's death after a long illness was confirmed by various family members on social media.

The Texas-born actress was a veteran of NYC's Actors Studio in the '50s. She made her Broadway debut in Make a Million (1958). She had much success on and off-Broadway, including in the Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) play Period of Adjustment (1960); Blues for Mister Charlie by James Baldwin (1924-1987); Neil Simon's (b. 1927) Chapter Two (1977), for which she won the Tony; and A Lie of the Mind (1985) by Sam Shepard (1943-2017).

Among many memorable, mostly supporting, roles in films: Scarecrow (1973); Bang the Drum Slowly (1973); Handle with Care (1977), for which she won a National Society of Film Critics Award; and Sweet Dreams (1985), which led to a second National Society of Film Critics Award nomination for her performance as Patsy Cline's (1932-1963) mother; Steel Magnolias (1989); and Love and a .45 (1994).

Wedgeworth in Sweet Dreams (Image via TriStar)

Her final film role was in The Hawk Is Dying (2006).

But it was TV that offered Wedgeworth her most memorable roles. She was a regular on Another World (1967-1970) and on the short-lived hoot Filthy Rich (1982-1983), and was the first actress to portray Dan Conner's mom Audrey on Roseanne in 1989.

As amorous Lana (Image via ABC)

Incredibly, she appeared on only nine episodes of Three's Company, where her prototypical cougar (she was only 45 at the time) was so impactful she remains a fan favorite. She could have been on the show longer, but John Ritter (1948-2003) thought the idea that his character would be so against sleeping with sexy Lana was ridiculous, and the writers phased her out.

Wedgeworth was married to actor Rip Torn (b. 1931) from 1956-1961, and is survived by husband Ernie Martin, her two daughters, and her two stepsons.

1 Response

  1. So sorry to hear this she was a longtime favorite of mine. My mother was a devout fan of Another World and that was where I became familiar with her as Lahoma. So whenever I saw her in anything else my first thought was always “Oh it’s Lahoma!” I do the same thing to this day with Susan Sullivan who was Lenore on there despite the numerous other things both have done.

    She was quite wonderful in Sweet Dreams and I never did understand how she was bypassed for a nomination in the Oscar race. Great though that she was acknowledged elsewhere.

Leave a comment