Audra Lindley, shown here in a 1975 publicity photo for the film Fay, appeared as Helen Roper on both Three's Company and its spinoff The Ropers.
|Birth name:||Audra Marie Lindley|
|Born:||24 September 1918|
|Birthplace:||Los Angeles, California|
|Died||16 October 1997(aged 79)|
|Deathplace:||Los Angeles, California|
|Years active:||1941 to 1997, her death|
|Spouse(s):||Hardy Ulm (1943-1960)|
James Whitmore (1972-1979)
|Children:||Elizabeth Blalock |
|Appeared on:||Three's Company and The Ropers|
|Character played:||Mrs. Roper|
Born in Los Angeles, Audra was born the daughter of show business parents. She got her early start in Hollywood by being a stand-in, which eventually progressed to stunt work. Nothing panned out, and she went to New York in her mid-20s to work in theater. Among her many Broadway theatre plays were On Golden Pond, Long Day's Journey into Night, and Horse Heavens. She began to make steady appearances on television, including the role of Sue Knowles on the CBS-TV soap opera Search for Tomorrow, and a six-year stint as manipulative "Aunt Liz" Matthews on the NBC-TV soap opera Another World. She also had regular roles as Meredith Baxter's mother in the sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie (1973), as well as Lee Grant’s best friend in Fay (1975).
Her greatest fame arrived when she began playing the wisecracking, perpetually unfulfilled and sexually frustrated Helen Roper on the hit sitcom Three's Company (1977) where she wore a wig to maintain the character’s exaggerated hairstyle. The character and her husband, Stanley (played by Norman Fell), were spun off to their own show, The Ropers (1979), which was not a success. Lindley continued to appear steadily on television and in film, such as Revenge of the Stepford Wives in 1980 and as Fauna, the owner of the "Bear Flag Restaurant," a Monterey, CA brothel portrayed in the 1982 film Cannery Row. In 1982, she appeared in the film Best Friends starring Goldie Hawn and Burt Reynolds.
One of her last roles was a character part in the lesbian-themed film Desert Hearts (1985). She also appeared in 1989's Troop Beverly Hills as outspoken director of the Wilderness Girls.
Lindley garnered further parts of all sizes in various TV films and series, including playing Phoebe Buffay's grandmother on Friends, and her last, a recurring role as Cybill Shepherd's mother on the CBS-TV sitcom series Cybill. (She had previously played Shepherd's mother in the 1972 film The Heartbreak Kid.)
Audra was married to and divorced from Dr. Hardy Ulm (1943–1960). She later married and divorced James Whitmore (1972–1979). Audra died of leukemia 16 October 1997, at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
- Berkvist, Robert. "James Whitmore, Character Actor Skilled in One-Man Shows, Dies at 87", The New York Times, February 7, 2009