Joan Hotchkis, 'The Odd Couple' Actress, Dead at 95

Veteran actor, writer, screenwriter, and playwright Joan Hotchkis has died. Hotchkis, best known for her roles in The Odd Couple and Legacy, passed away in Los Angeles, California of congestive heart failure on Tuesday, Sept. 27, her daughter Paula Chambers confirmed, according to Deadline. She was 95.

The last surviving child of Preston Hotchkis and Katharine Bixby, who were civic leaders in Los Angeles with statewide and national influence and led everything from the Metropolitan Water District to the California Historical Society, Hotchkis was born is Los Angeles in September 1927. After earning a B.A. in Psychology from Smith College and an M.A. in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street Teacher's College and teaching nursery school in New York, Hotchkis began her acting career in 1954 when she landed the leading role of Lizzie in The Rainmaker at Hollywood's Players Ring theatre. Shortly after, she became a member of The Actors Studio when she returned to New York, and it was there that she landed a number of TV commercials and guest spots and met director Bob Foster. The pair married in 1958 and had daughter Paula.

In the years that followed, Hotchkis' career ventured into the soap opera world, the actress landing roles on The Secret Storm, Bewitched, General Hospital, Welcome To It, and My World, where she starred as the female lead opposite William Windom, by the late '60s. She also appeared as Dr. Nancy Cunningham, the sometime-girlfriend of Jack Klugman's Oscar Madison, on The Odd Couple. It was also during the '60s that she made her Broadway debut in Advise and Consent.

The following decade, Hotchkis continued to take on roles on shows including Lou Grant, Charlie's Angels, Mannix, The New Dick Van Dyke Show, St. Elsewhere, Marcus Welby, Barnaby Jones, and The Life and Times of Eddie Roberts in 1980. Her big screen credits include The Late Liz and Old Boyfriends. She also co-starred opposite William Holden in the 1973 film Breezy, directed by Clint Eastwood, co-starred with Robby Benson and Glynnis O'Connor as Anna "Mama" Hartley in the cult classic, Ode to Billie Joe, and wrote the acting handbook "Not Acting Please" and became a playwright with Legacy in 1974.


Hotchkis retired as a TV and film actor after she underwent surgery remove a non-cancerous brain tumor. She instead returned to the stage. Hotchkis is survived by her daughter Paula "and many loved ones who will miss her greatly." A private memorial will be held at a later date. Those wishing to make donation in Hotckis memory may do so to Highways Performance Space.