Dixie Carter dead at 70

Dixie Carter died Saturday at the age of 70. A rare breed of classy and bawdy, Carter had a fantastic stage career in New York and beyond before making the move to Hollywood at the creaky old age of 40.

While most actresses of a certain age end up getting saddled with “mom” roles or leaving Tinseltown all together, Carter defied the odds and became an enormous star as the sexy and outspoken Julia Sugarbaker on Designing Women. For seven strong seasons, this show gave its predominantly female cast a platform to make commentaries on nearly every social issue relevant to the 1980’s. I admit the show could sometimes come across as preachy, but it was also funny as hell.

Production squabbles and Delta Burke’s waistline may have made tabloid headlines every week, but the show itself never faltered. At the center of this media storm was the commanding presense of Ms. Carter, who always managed to make us acknowledge and then forget about our troubles, thirty minutes at a time. Ironically, while her character on the show was an uber-liberal democrat, Carter herself was a devoted Republican. This managed to make the show even better, as she agreed to spout Julia’s epic liberal rants only if she was then allowed to sing a song during the season. This lead to a bevy of musical numbers throughout the years, giving audiences a taste of her true talents.

She will be missed, although thankfully Designing Women Seasons 1, 2 & 3 are now available on DVD, meaning we can enjoy her trademark tirades again and again and again and again. And here’s one for the road…