Charlotte Zucker, 86; mother of filmmakers had roles in their movies

From Times Staff Reports

Charlotte Zucker, 86, whose filmmaker sons, Jerry and David, cast her in bit parts in 17 movies, including “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad,” died Wednesday at her home in Shorewood, Wis., after being diagnosed with advanced cancer two weeks earlier.

Among Zucker’s roles were the makeup lady in “Airplane!,” the 1980 comedy in which she continued putting on lipstick during heavy turbulence and smeared lipstick all over her face.

In the 1988 comedy “The Naked Gun,” she played the secretary who is hypnotized by Ricardo Montalban’s character and, zombie-like, says, “I must kill Papshmir.”

Among her other screen credits are a bank officer in “Ghost,” a judge in “Ruthless People” and a woman smoking a pipe in “High School High.”


“She was always game for anything we threw at her, " David Zucker told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week.

Charlotte Zucker grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where she developed a lifelong interest in acting. She studied and performed at the Henry Street Neighborhood Playhouse and appeared in other productions. But when it came time to pick the best way to make a living, she later said, she chose to become a speech teacher.

She graduated from Brooklyn College and earned a master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where she met her husband, Burt, with whom she had her two sons and a daughter, Susan.