Elmarie Wendel, most known for her role as Mrs. Dubcek on 3rd Rock from the Sun, has passed away. The actress was 89 years old.
Her daughter, J.C. Wendel, confirmed the news in an Instagram post on Sunday, July 22.
“You were a great mom and a bad*ss dame,” she said.
J.C., also an actress, then hashtagged some of the television shows and musicals that her famous mother appeared in throughout her long career.
Wendel was born on Nov. 23, 1928, in Howard County, Iowa, to musical parents. One of five dancing children, the talented family traveled around the Midwest, performing in various venues.
When she was a bit older, she found herself starring in Broadway and off-Broadway productions, before settling in Los Angeles where she was quickly able to snag gigs on both the big and small screens.
The star, who stood 5-feet, 5-inches tall, had minor roles on The Jeffersons, The Facts of Life, Murphy Brown, Seinfeld, and other TV series before joining the cast of NBC’s 3rd Rock from the Sun in 1996.
As Mrs. Dubcek, the owner of the home that the alien Solomon family lived in, Wendel played an eccentric, cigarette-smoking, promiscuous woman.
Often a scene-stealer, her recurring character on the comedy — starring John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, and a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt — soon turned into a mainstay starting with Season 3.
She even got an onscreen daughter, Vicki, played by the late Jan Hooks, who was a love interest for French Stewart’s Harry.
Wendel remained with the series until it ended in 2001.
From 2003 to 2007, she had a recurring role on George Lopez’s eponymous ABC TV sitcom as Gina Sorenstam, a sassy assembly line worker at the aviation factory and frenemy to George’s mom, Benny (Belita Moreno).
In 2012, she provided the voice for Aunt Grizelda in the animated film The Lorax.
“Oh dear. Elmarie Wendel is gone,” John Lithgow wrote on Twitter. “The 3rd Rock Family mourns the passing of our landlady.”
“She was raucous, funny, endearing, and terribly, terribly sweet,” said actor Jim Beaver, who played Happy Doug on 3rd Rock from the Sun, on Twitter. “Goodnight, Mrs. Dubcek, wherever you are.”
Wayne Knight, who starred as Officer Don on 3rd Rock, also paid tribute to Elmarie on Twitter.
“[She] was a funny, kind, and kick*ss broad who I was lucky enough to befriend and will greatly miss. There will not be another like her,” he wrote.
It has not yet been stated what caused Wendel’s death.