Like with many a character actor, Billie Bird's name might not be familiar at first glance. But if you watched television and movies in the 1980s, we bet you'll recognize the actress, who died 10 years ago at the age of 94.
Billie Bird’s career – like her life – was long. She began performing in Vaudeville as a child, and continued on the stage and in night clubs. In the 1950s, the talented and versatile Bird made the leap to film and later television. Though her career never slowed, she found new recognition in the ‘80s. Perhaps you remember her as the short-and-feisty grandma from 16 Candles…
Or maybe you noticed her in another ‘80s (cult) classic, like Ernest Saves Christmas or Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol. Here she is at her most physically feisty, alongside Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith, Bobcat Goldthwait, David Graf and more of our favorite silver screen peace officers.
If you preferred '80s TV to movies, you might remember Bird from the classic Judd Hirsch sitcom Dear John. As a member of John’s support group, once again, she played it feisty.
During the ‘80s, Bird had recurring roles on Benson and It Takes Two (starring Patty Duke), and also guest starred on sitcoms from Happy Days to Silver Spoons to Cheers. Character actors like Billie Bird don’t necessarily get a lot of attention – but even though she wasn’t the star, Bird played it note perfect every time. And with nine decades-worth of crowd-pleasing performances to her name, we know Billie Bird will be remembered and loved for a long time to come.
Written by Linnea Crowther