Carol Arthur, 'Blazing Saddles' Actress, Dead at 85

Carol Arthur, who starred in Blazing Saddles and three other Mel Brooks movies, has died following a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. Arthur was the wife of the late comic actor Dom DeLuise, another star who appeared in multiple Brooks films. Arthur, who also starred on Broadway with Dick Van Dyke and Lauren Bacall, was 85.

Arthur died Sunday at the Mary Pickford House at the Motion Picture & Television Fund home in Woodland Hills, her family said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She moved to the home in 2015. "She was my lifelong friend, and she will be missed," Brooks, 94, said in a statement Monday.

Arthur is best known for an unforgettable scene in Blazing Saddles (1974), in which she played Rock Ridge schoolteacher Harriett Van Johnson. She stole the town council meeting scene when she read a letter to the governor for picking a Black man to be the sheriff of the town. "Please remove him immediately!" Arthur said as the other townspeople were shaken by her voice. "The fact that you have sent him here just goes to prove that you are the leading asshole in the state," she then said to applause.

Brooks cast Arthur again in Silent Movie (1976) and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), which also featured DeLuise. In 1995, she appeared in Brooks' final film, Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995). Her other films included Making It (1971), The Sunshine Boys (1975), The World's Greatest Lover (1977), and The Godson (1998).


Arthur's final appearance came in an episode of 7th Heaven in 2004. In the 1970s and 1980s, she appeared as "Safety Sadie" in U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission PSAs. In 1980, she starred in a Broadway production of The Music Man with Van Dyke. In 1981, she worked with Bacall in Woman of the Year. She also appeared on the stage in London, starring in the 1963 production of On The Town.

Arthur was born Carol Jane Arata in Hackensack, New Jersey on Aug. 4, 1935. She met DeLuise in 1963 when they were both performing in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Two years later, they married. They had three sons, who all became actors, Peter, David, and Michael. Arthur and DeLuise were married until his death from kidney failure in 2009 at age 75. In addition to her sons, Arthur is survived by three grandchildren and her brother George. Her family said donations could be made in her name to the Pearl S. Buck Foundation or the Elixer Fund.