- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 23, 2007

Alice Ghostley, 81, Tony-winning actress

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Alice Ghostley, the Tony Award-winning actress best known on TV for playing Esmeralda on “Bewitched” and Bernice on “Designing Women,” has died. She was 81.

Mrs. Ghostley died Friday at her home in Studio City, Calif., after a long battle with colon cancer and a series of strokes, longtime friend Jim Pinkston said.

Mrs. Ghostley made her Broadway debut in “Leonard Sillman’s New Faces of 1952.” She received critical acclaim for singing “The Boston Beguine,” which became her signature song.

She had dropped out of college and moved to New York with her sister to pursue theater.

“The best job I had then was as a theater usher,” she said in a 1990 Boston Globe interview. “I saw the plays for free. What I saw before me was a visualization of what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be.”

In the 1960s, Mrs. Ghostley received a Tony nomination for various characterizations in the Broadway comedy “The Beauty Part” and eventually won for best featured actress in “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window.”

From 1969 to 1972, she played the good witch and ditzy housekeeper Esmeralda on TV’s “Bewitched.”

She played Bernice Clifton on “Designing Women” from 1987 to 1993, for which she earned an Emmy nomination in 1992. Mrs. Ghostley’s film credits include “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Graduate,” “Gator” and “Grease.”

She said she was well aware of the types of roles she should pursue.

“I knew I didn’t look like an ingenue,” she told the Globe. “My nose was too long. I had crooked teeth. I wasn’t blond. I knew I looked like a character actress. But I also knew I’d find a way.”

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