PASSINGS: Peggy Rea, Tom Carnegie, Marie Lillo, Shearlean Duke

Peggy Rea

Character actress on ‘The Waltons,’ ‘Dukes of Hazzard’

Peggy Rea, 89, a hearty character actress best known for her TV roles on “The Waltons,” “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “Grace Under Fire,” died Feb. 5, said the Santa Barbara Cemetery Assn. She died at her Toluca Lake home from complications of heart failure.

Born March 31, 1921, in Los Angeles, Rea left UCLA to attend business school.

While a production secretary at MGM in the 1940s, she acted in small theater productions at night. Her first major role was in a touring production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” in 1947, and she later appeared in the play on Broadway.


After debuting on TV in 1953 in “I Love Lucy,” Rea went on to appear in more than 70 television projects. Her film credits include “7 Faces of Dr. Lao” (1964) and “In Country” (1989).

In the late 1970s and early ‘80s, she played Olivia Walton’s cousin Rose Burton on “The Waltons” and Boss Hogg’s wife, Lulu, on “The Dukes of Hazzard.” On “Grace Under Fire,” she portrayed the title character’s mother-in-law from 1995 to 1998.

Tom Carnegie

Voice of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Tom Carnegie, 91, a veteran broadcaster and the voice of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to generations of Indy 500 fans, died Friday at his home in Indianapolis after an illness.

Carnegie, a longtime radio sportscaster in Indiana, was known for signature calls such as “Heeeeez-on-it!” when qualifiers sped up approaching the green flag and “It’s a new track record!”

Born in 1919 in Norwalk, Conn., as Carl Kenagy, he moved with his family to Missouri as a youngster. His interest in sports shifted to announcing after he was stricken with polio, and he began preparing himself in high school by entering speech contests.

He began his radio career in 1942 in Fort Wayne, Ind., and took the name Tom Carnegie — the station manager thought it sounded better on air. Three years later, he moved to Indianapolis, where he was a radio sports director and wrote a column for the Indianapolis Star.

In 1946, he met Speedway owner Tony Hulman, who had just bought and renovated the dilapidated track that had been idle during World War II. Hulman hired the young broadcaster, who at the time knew nothing about auto racing.

“Nobody gave me any help or anything like that,” Carnegie once said. “I just had names and numbers, like calling a football game. And I somehow got through it and … I’ve been there ever since.”

During his tenure as a sportscaster, he was on the public address system when underdog Milan High School famously won the Indiana state high school championship in 1954, which led to a cameo in the movie “Hoosiers.”

Carnegie retired from radio station WRTV in 1985 but continued as the voice of the Speedway until 2006.

Marie Lillo

Actress on stage and television

Marie Lillo, 81, an actress whose 60-year stage career began in opera and moved on to plays, musical comedies, nightclubs and television, died of cancer Feb. 1 in Los Angeles, her niece Connie Lillo Thieman said.

Lillo was born Dec. 14, 1929, in New Jersey and grew up in Leland, Miss. She graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, her family said.

Lillo toured with Milton Berle as a member of a classical quartet that sang while he performed. She won a 1988-89 Drama League Award for creating the character Emma in Joe DiPietro’s off-Broadway hit “Over the River and Through the Woods.” She reprised her role in a 2006 production at the La Mirada Theatre.

Shearlean Duke

Former Times features writer and editor

Shearlean Duke, 64, a former Los Angeles Times features writer and features editor in the Orange County edition who later became chairwoman of the journalism department at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., died of brain cancer Feb. 2 at her home in Bellingham.

Hired as a reporter for the Orange County edition of The Times in 1972, Duke was an award-winning feature writer for the old View section from 1974 to 1981. She became the edition’s assistant city editor in charge of features in 1981 and its View and Calendar editor in 1982.

After she left The Times in 1984, Duke and her husband, Bob, spent more than a year sailing in the Gulf of California on their 35-foot cutter.

Returning to Newport Beach, they established a public relations business in Costa Mesa. Duke also wrote education and boating columns, as well as feature stories, for The Times’ Orange County edition.

After earning a master’s degree from Chapman University in Orange when she was 50, Duke taught journalism at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., and at Western Washington, where she established the journalism department’s public relations program.

Born June 21, 1946, in Copperhill, Tenn., Duke earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Tennessee Technological University in 1968. She worked at the Cookeville (Tenn.) Herald-Citizen, the Houston Post and the Orange County Register before joining The Times.

-- Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports