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Mary Frann was a talented and famous actress of American origin. She had just a few film and stage credits to her name as much of her work was predominantly on the small screen. To TV audiences, she was best known for her career-defining role as Joanna Loudon on the hit 1980s sitcom Newhart. Sadly, the actress died in September 1998 at the age of 55.
Who is Mary Frann?
Mary Frann was born Mary Frances Leucke on February 27, 1943, in the city of St. Louis in the state of Missouri, USA. She was quite an early bloomer as she began modeling as a child and she also appeared in commercials for a local TV station. She schooled at Nerinx Hall High School, a Roman Catholic girls’ school in Webster Groves, Missouri. Frann continued modeling during her teenage years and at age 18, she was voted “Junior Miss” in her home state of Missouri. She ultimately won the national title of America’s Junior Miss which earned her a college scholarship and a starring role in the short educational film Prom: It’s a Pleasure (1961).
Frann enrolled at Northwestern University and while studying, she worked as a weather correspondent at an NBC-owned TV station in St. Louis. She quit college after just one year and opted to pursue a career in the media. She relocated to Chicago where she was hired to co-anchor on the morning show of an ABC affiliate station. She also began working in local theatre productions and in film and television.
She marked her screen acting debut on the NBC series Kraft Suspense Theatre (1964) and her first movie role was in the musical film Nashville Rebel (1966). While her acting profile soared, her career as a broadcaster also flourished. She received an offer to anchor another morning show but she declined the offer and opted to concentrate on her acting career.
Mary Frann appeared in only a few feature films in the course of her career as most of her acting roles were in TV productions. Interestingly, she was credited as “Mary Douglas” in most of her early acting jobs. She had guest roles in hit series like Get Smart (1968), That Girl (1968) and The Wild Wild West (1968-69). Her first major TV role was in the short-lived crime series My Friend Tony (1969). She also recorded notable guest appearances on other shows like The Rockford Files (1975-78) and WKRP in Cincinnati (1981).
Frann landed the biggest role of her career in the early 80s when she was cast as Joanna Loudon, one of the lead characters in the CBS sitcom Newhart (1982-90). She remained on the main cast of the hit series throughout its highly successful 8-season run. Following her breakthrough role on Newhart, she starred in several telefilms including Eight Is Enough: A Family Reunion (1987), Dance ‘Til Dawn (1988) and I’m Dangerous Tonight (1990). She also starred in the mini-series Lucky/Chances (1990) and the thriller film Fatal Charm (1990).
Mary Frann had a longterm marital relationship during her lifetime. On August 11, 1973, she tied the knot with T.J. Escott, an actor, and businessman. Their union lasted for 12 years before it eventually ended in divorce in 1985 and both parties went their separate ways without any children from the union. Frann later got together with an LA-based businessman Jonathan Cookman Jr. whom she dated for a very long while.
Mary Frann’s life came to an end on September 23, 1998. She died in her sleep on that fateful day at her Beverly Hills home. Her body was discovered by her longtime lover Jonathan Cookman Jr. who also doubled as her publicist. An inquiry into the cause of her death revealed that she had died of a heart attack. Her body was buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
Height and Other Body Measurements
In addition to having a very pretty face, Mary Frann also had an enviably trim physique. However, the exact details regarding her physical features are currently unverifiable. Some reports have it that she was 5 feet 5 inches (165 cm) in height with a body weight of 52 kg (115 lb). The gorgeous Hollywood star is known to have had a full head of long blonde hair which was one of her most distinctive features.