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Carole Cook, ‘Sixteen Candles’ actor and Lucille Ball mentee, dies days before turning 99

A woman in red hair a black dress looks at a camera
Actor Carole Cook at the Hollywood Museum in August 2011.
(Casey Rodgers / Associated Press Images for CBS DVD)
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Actor Carole Cook, known for her work in “Sixteen Candles” and “The Lucy Show,” has died. She was 98.

Cook’s manager, Robert Malcom, told The Times that the actor “went peacefully” and was with her husband, actor Tom Troupe, when she died Wednesday in Beverly Hills. Mark Cocanougher, Cook’s nephew, also announced the news on Facebook.

“Carole departed in peace and comfort having lived a long and wonderful life doing the work that she loved,” Cocanougher wrote. “She made many friends, and I know they will all miss her spirit, humor, and talent on the stage, and for life in general. And that’s pretty great.”

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Cook would have turned 99 on Saturday.

Born Mildred Frances Cook, in Abilene, Texas, she was in her mid-30s when she began her acting career, in 1959, as a performer on Lucille Ball’s “Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse.” There she got to know Ball, who would become a close friend and eventually convinced Cook to change her name from Mildred to Carole — a nod to actor Carole Lombard. With her new name and new acting experience, Cook began booking more roles.

From 1963 to 1968, Cook appeared in various roles on “The Lucy Show” opposite Ball. She continued working with the comedy legend in CBS’ “Here’s Lucy.”

The two actors were so close that Ball was Cook’s matron-of-honor when she married Troupe in 1964, according to a Facebook post from Troupe’s publicist.

A woman with red hair in a black dress stands next to a man in a black jacket and gray pants on a red carpet.
Carole Cook and her husband, Tom Troupe, attend the Art of Elysium’s Genesis event in Hollywood on Sept. 20, 2013.
(Richard Shotwell / Invision/Associated Press)

During the 1970s, Cook appeared in several television projects, including “Starsky & Hutch,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Kojak” and “Maude.”

With the 1980s came more film roles. In John Hughes’ 1984 film “Sixteen Candles,” she portrayed Grandma Helen opposite Molly Ringwald’s Sam.

“Fred, she’s gotten her boobies,” she says. “And they are so perky!”

Don’t You Forget About Me Contemporary Writers on the Films of John Hughes Edited by Jaime Clarke Foreword by Ally Sheedy Simon & Schuster: 224 pp., $14 paper

Beyond TV and film, Cook was also known for her stage work. In 1980, she originated the role of Maggie Jones in the Broadway production of “42nd Street.”

Her stage bonafides also include turns in “Romantic Comedy,” “Hello, Dolly!” and “The Threepenny Opera.”

In 1992, Cook brought her one-woman show, “Dress Up,” to the Pasadena Playhouse, where she mused on her Texas upbringing, her snarky grandmother and more.

Unless you come decked out in your best Armani or Gaultier to see Carole Cook’s new show, “Dress Up,” in the new Upstairs at the Pasadena Playhouse series, you’re definitely going to feel underdressed.

“Here is my life! If you don’t like it, you can go take a hike!” she said during the show.

For more than 30 years, Cook also advocated for HIV and AIDS awareness.

She is survived by her husband, her stepson Christopher Troupe and his wife, Becky, sister Regina Cocanougher and nieces and nephews.

No services have been announced, but Cook’s family shared that fans could donate to the Entertainment Community Fund in lieu of flowers.


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