Beth Howland (1941 - 2015)

Beth Howland, a character actress known best for playing the accident-prone waitress Vera Gorman on the TV sitcom “Alice” that starred Linda Lavin, died of lung cancer Dec. 31, 2015, in Santa Monica, California, according to multiple news sources, including The New York Times. She was 74.

Howland’s husband, the “Murphy Brown” actor Charles Kimbrough, had waited until this week to announce the death “in keeping with her wishes,” the Times said.

A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Howland played the part in “Alice,” which ran on CBS from 1976 to 1985. The program was based on the 1974 motion picture “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.”

“I thought Vera was a difficult role. I found nothing to hook into, nothing tangible, but they hired me,” Howland once said of her “Alice” role, which also starred Polly Holliday.

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Howland also originated the role of Amy in the original Broadway cast of “Company,” who uttered, “Getting married today” in staccato-like fashion. Her other Broadway roles included “Once Upon a Mattress” (1959), “Bye Bye Birdie” (1960), and “High Spirits.”

Besides “Alice,” Howland could also be seen on TV in “Love, American Style,” “Cannon,” “Little House on the Prairie,” “Eight Is Enough,” “Murder, She Wrote,” and “The Love Boat,” on which she sailed six times.

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