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Actress Marcia Strassman has died at the age of 66 after a long battle with breast cancer, her sister Julie Strassman confirmed. Though Marcia Strassman acted in a wide range of TV shows and feature films, she was best known for her lead roles in the TV show Welcome Back Kotter and the comedy feature Honey I Shrunk the Kids and its sequel, Honey I Blew Up the Kids. Strassman also served on the national board of the Screen Actors Guild.
“She was the funniest, smartest person I ever met,” said Julie Strassman of her sister. “And talented. She knew everything. Now I won’t be able to call her and ask her questions.”
News of Strassman’s death first emerged in online posts by a long-time friend, Curb Your Enthusiasm director Bob Weide: “So sad that a sweet friend, kind person & wonderful actress Marcia Strassman lost her brave battle with cancer today.”
Another friend, singer/actress Cher, also tweeted: “Wanted U2 No,a Funny,Talented Friend Died.Not 4U 2feel sorry 4me,but she died alone, &Energy from U is powerful &Sends (love) ‘Marsha (sic) Strassman'”
Strassman was born Apri 28, 1948 in New York City, and grew up in New Jersey. She came to Los Angeles when she was just 18, her sister said. She was initially a singer in the late 1960s with some modest local success, most notably with The Groovy World of Jack and Jill and The Flower Children. She also had a few TV roles, including three episodes of The Patty Duke Show. She left show business for a time before returning as an actress in a recurring role as nurse Margie Cutler in M.A.S.H.
In 1975, Strassman had a breakout role in the TV hit Welcome Back Kotter, opposite comedian Gabe Kaplan, playing his frequently exasperated wife Julie. That show, about a teacher returning to the tough high school and neighborhood where he grew up, ran through 1979.
Strassman worked steadily thereafter, most notably in major roles on several mostly short-lived TV shows, including Booker, Tremors, Third Watch, Providence, and Noah Knows Best and as a voice-over artist on the children’s animated show Aaahh!!! Real Monsters and elsewhere.
Her biggest film success came playing the wife and mother opposite Rick Moranis in Disney’s hit comedy Honey I Shrunk The Kids and its equally successful sequel, Honey I Blew Up The Kids. She also appeared in 1985’s The Aviator with Christopher Reeve and Roseanna Arquette.
Strassman was active in fundraising for various progressive and social causes, including breast cancer research and treatment even before she was diagnosed, her sister said. She was a member of the Screen Actors Guild national board, elected to a three-year term in 2010. Julie Strassman said her sister continued to sing, and had many other skills and a wide group of friends throughout Hollywood.
“She had more friends than anyone in the world,” Julie Strassman said. “She could do anything. She made clothes, made curtains, knitted sweaters for friends. She could dance.”
Strassman died Oct. 25 in her Sherman Oaks, Calif., home, after a seven-year fight with breast cancer. She is survived by her daughter, New York costume designer Elizabeth “Lizzie” Collector, whom Julie Strassman called her sister’s “great love.” She is also survived by brother Steven Strassman.
Services are pending, but Julie Strassman asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in her sister’s name to organizations fighting cancer.