Thursday’s episode of The Big Bang Theory, called “The Comic Book Store Regeneration,” incorporated the loss of a special cast member: Carol Ann Susi. Susi played the voice of Mrs. Wolowitz, Howard’s mother. The actress died of cancer in November. Show producers at the time released a statement that said in part, “In addition to her talent, Carol Ann was a constant source of joy and kindness to all.”
While it was known for some time that Susi’s death would have an impact on The Big Bang Theory, the precise plot was not revealed until this evening. Howard rejoins the group after a phone call and informs everyone that his mother took a nap and simply never woke up. Later, the entire cast except Simon Helberg and Melissa Rauch, who play Howard and his wife Bernadette, toasted Mrs. Wolowitz.
Showrunner Steve Molaro told The Hollywood Reporter that the show’s small tribute to Susi has now ensured she’s in every Big Bang Theory episode. There is a picture of Susi on the fridge.
“After we had that impromptu memorial the morning she passed away, Johnny and I were hugging — like everybody was — and right then we found our prop person and asked to get a little picture of Carol Ann and we put it on the refrigerator [in Leonard and Sheldon’s kitchen] so she’s there in every episode now. It’s so small you wouldn’t even see it, but on the fridge is this tiny little wallet-size picture of Carol Ann that’s been there since the day she passed away.”
Glamour writer Jessica Radloff noticed the photo on a recent set visit and snapped a picture for her blog.
Molaro described the “impromptu memorial” that occurred when Susi passed away and producer Chuck Lorre informed the cast and crew. From a moment of sadness came one of remembrance.
“[W]hat it turned into, quickly and beautifully, was an impromptu memorial where people started to share their wonderful memories of Carol Ann. It became this mixture of laughter, tears and memories. We were living in the moment of the tragedy, having just learned what happened, and the tone somehow managed to be heartbroken and celebratory of her at the same time.”
As for the show’s progression, Molaro confirmed the loss of Howard’s mother will be felt by his character and others for episodes to come. Howard’s father, from whom he is estranged, may eventually make an appearance but Molaro describes that as “so far away” that it is unlikely to happen before this season wraps up.
The Big Bang Theory airs Thursdays on CBS.