Esteemed Actress Alice Ghostley Passes
Tony Award winner widely known as "Esmerelda" on TV Classic Bewitched
Studio City, CA — Alice Ghostley, a Tony Award-winning character actress best known for playing a series of sweet-natured, somewhat addled roles, died of cancer September 21 at her home in Studio City, California. Ghostley's age was typically listed as 81, though reputed to have been slightly older.
Although she began her career in theater and made several films, Ghostley is most associated with her television work, which included more than ninety appearances on series ranging from Car 54, Where Are You and Naked City to Designing Women—on which she played kooky neighbor Bernice Clifton from 1986 through 1993—to Dharma and Greg.
Her signature role was Esmerelda, the befuddled good witch who became invisible when nervous, and whose spells invariably failed, on the popular sitcom Bewitched, which aired from 1966-1972.
Though principally associated with comedic roles, Ghostley earned her Tony for best supporting actress in 1965 for a dramatic performance in The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, by Lorraine Hansberry, who also wrote A Raisin in the Sun.
Ghostley, who was born in the small town of Eve, Missouri, also received a Tony nomination in 1963 for her performance in The Beauty Part, a comic fantasy by humorist S. J. Perelman.
In addition, she appeared in thirty feature films, including To Kill a Mockingbird and The Graduate.
In 1953 Ghostley wed actor Felice Orlandi, to whom she remained married until his death in 2003. She is survived by her sister, Gladys.