Joan Hotchkis, star of the ‘Odd Couple’ and ‘Legacy,’ dead at 95


Joan Hotchkis, a legendary star of stage and screen who appeared in “Odd Couple” and “Legacy,” passed away on September 27 at 95 years old.

The thespian reportedly died due to congestive heart failure, her daughter Paula Chambers confirmed in a statement to Deadline.

Born September 21, 1927 in Los Angeles, Hotchkis got her start in show business in 1954 after she landing the leading role of Lizzie in “The Rainmaker” at Hollywood’s Players Ring theater. The then-rising star then moved back to New York, whereupon she joined the Actor’s studio and appeared in various TV commercials and guest spots.

From there, Hotchkis would go on to star in a string of iconic 19650s and 60s soap operas, including “The Secret Storm,” “Bewitched,” “General Hospital,” “Welcome To It,” and “My World” opposite William Windom.

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"The Odd Couple" episode "The Sleepwalker" (1971).
“The Odd Couple” episode “The Sleepwalker” (1971).

Jack Klugman, Joan Hotchkis, and Tony Randall in "The Odd Couple."
Jack Klugman, Joan Hotchkis, and Tony Randall in “The Odd Couple.”

A portrait of Joan Hotchkis from 1971.
A portrait of Joan Hotchkis from 1971.

Her small screen success would continue into the 1970s, during which Hotchkis had parts in “Lou Grant,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “The New Dick Van Dyke Show,” and  “Barnaby Jones.” In perhaps her most famous TV role to date, the prolific TV star appeared on “The Odd Couple” as Dr. Nancy Cunningham, the only steady girlfriend of Oscar Madison (Jack Klugman).

Hotchkis’ talents weren’t limited to the small screen. The dramatist appeared in the movies “The Late Liz,” and “Old Boyfriends,” and the Clint Eastwood film “Breezy” (1973), which also starred William Holden. In her final credited role, Hotchkis appeared as Madeleine in the 1993 TV movie “The Disappearance Of Christina.”

Also known for her writing prowess, the polymath famously penned the thespian bible “Not Acting Please,” and became a playwright with “Legacy” in 1974, which she later adapted into a film of the same name the following year.

Joan Hotchkis and John Hotchkis attend the Mariinsky Orchestra Concert in honor of Henry Segerstrom and the 50th anniversary of South Coast Plaza on October 30, 2017 in Costa Mesa, California.
Joan Hotchkis and John Hotchkis attend the Mariinsky Orchestra Concert in honor of Henry Segerstrom and the 50th anniversary of South Coast Plaza on October 30, 2017 in Costa Mesa, California.
Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan
Joan Hotchkis in the ABC TV series ‘”The New Temperatures Rising Show.”
Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images
Hotchkis rehearses her one-woman theater piece called "Elements of Flesh or Screwing Saved My Ass."
Hotchkis rehearses her one-woman theater piece called “Elements of Flesh or Screwing Saved My Ass.”
Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

Shortly leaving the organization, Hotchkis was diagnosed with a non-cancerous brain tumor, which she had successfully removed. However, she subsequently quit TV and film and turned her full attention to the theater.

Hotchkis is survived by her daughter Paula and many loved ones who will miss her greatly. Her memorial will be private, but fans can contribute to her memory by donating money to Highways Performance Space.