Katherine Helmond’s Who’s the Boss? co-stars are speaking out following news of her death. The legendary TV and movie star, best known for her Emmy-nominated roles as Jessica Tate on the late-night sitcom Soap (1977-1981) and Mona Robinson on the long-running comedy Who’s The Boss? (1984-1992), died February 23. She passed at her Los Angeles home due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Katherine Helmond was 89 years old.
While Helmond’s five-decade career included recurring roles on hit sitcoms such as Coach and Everybody Loves Raymond— along with a long list of film and stage roles — she will forever be known as the saucy widow Mona, who broke barriers for her carefree attitude about dating on Who’s the Boss?
After Katherine Helmond’s death was announced, her TV daughter Judith Light and the entire Who’s the Boss? cast took to Twitter to post heartbreaking reactions to the loss of one of television’s most beloved stars.
“Katherine Helmond was an inspiration to me and so many others. Her grace, talent, and humor will be deeply missed She is in my heart forever,” Light tweeted.
Tony Danza took to Twitter to post a collage of photos of Helmond on Who’s the Boss?, as well as a GIF of the late star’s entrance in the show’s opening title sequence.
“We all lost a national treasure today. No words can measure my love,” Danza wrote of Helmond.
“Katherine Helmond has passed away. My beautiful, kind, funny, gracious, compassionate, rock. You were an instrumental part of my life. You taught me to hold my head above the marsh! You taught me to do anything for a laugh! What an example you were! Rest In Peace, Katherine,” tweeted Alyssa Milano, who played Tony Danza’s daughter on Who’s the Boss?
Milano also posted a clip from a classic Who’s the Boss episode in which Katherine Helmond rocked a bikini. You can see the scene from the 1985 episode “Angela’s Ex,” below.
And Danny Pintauro, who played Helmond’s TV grandson on Who’s the Boss?, also took to Twitter to pay tribute to the beloved actress.
“We lost one of the most genuine and kind people I have ever known,” Pintauro wrote. “There’s not a single person who can say otherwise – she was always smiling, full of heart, and had the best advice. I couldn’t have asked for a better grandmother and I will miss her so dearly.”
It seems that the cast of Who’s the Boss? stayed in touch more than 25 years after the show ended after its eight-season run. In 2016, the cast of the classic ABC comedy reunited for a photo spread for Entertainment Weekly.
On Who’s The Boss?, Katherine Helmond played the mother of high-strung, divorced advertising executive Angela Bower (Judith Light), who employed Tony Micelli, a retired MLB player (Tony Danza) as a live-in housekeeper. His daughter Samantha (Alyssa Milano) and Angela’s son Jonathan (Danny Pintauro) also lived in the Connecticut home. Helmond’s Mona was a widow whose active dating life made for many risque one-liners.
Helmond once said fans often wrote to her to tell them how her carefree character inspired them to move on after difficult situations.
“I felt like I was giving a free lesson to a lot of people who are in that position … I got wonderful letters from people,” Helmond said, per The Hollywood Reporter.
In real life, Katherine Helmond was as far from her Who’s the Boss? character as could be. Helmond was married to her husband, David Christian, for 57 years. In a statement posted by Variety, Christian, who has been with Katherine since he was 19 years old, said the Who’s the Boss star was the love of his life.
“The night she died, I saw that the moon was exactly half-full, just as I am now … half of what I’ve been my entire adult life,” Helmond’s husband said.
You can see Katherine Helmond in a hilarious scene from her Who’s The Boss? heyday below.