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Originally appeared on E! Online
Hollywood has lost a trailblazer.
Andrea Fay Friedman, an actress with Down syndrome known for her breakthrough role in the ‘90s TV sitcom Life Goes On, died Dec. 3 from complications due to Alzheimer's, her dad shared with the New York Times. She was 53.
In 1992, the California native became one of the first actors with Down syndrome to appear in a television series, playing the role of Amanda Swanson in ABC's Life Goes On. After two seasons, Friedman went on to land guest spots in shows including Baywatch, Walker, Texas Ranger and Law and Order: SVU.
Plus, on Family Guy, Friedman voiced Ellen, a character with Down syndrome. During the episode, her character made a reference to Sarah Palin and her now 15-year-old her son Trig, who also has Down syndrome. After the show aired, Palin slammed the show, calling it the work of "cruel, cold-hearted people."
In response, Friedman explained that her character should serve as an inspiration to others: "I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor."
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"In my family we think laughing is good," Friedman told the New York Times at the time. "My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life."
And, she was proud of being able to bring representation to her characters onscreen.
"I'm not embarrassed," she continued. "But mostly, it doesn't matter if you have Down syndrome. Really, it just matters to have a different challenge."
In addition to her acting career, Friedman also served as an assistant teacher at UCLA, helping to teach students about independent living.
Her final onscreen appearance was in the 2019 film Carol of the Bells.
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