Carole Cook, a veteran actress beloved for her work on stage and screen, with credits such as John Hughes’ 1984 comedy “Sixteen Candles,” has died, according to a statement from her agent, Robert Malcolm. She was 98 years old.
Cook died “peacefully” on Wednesday of heart failure, Malcolm told CNN via email.
In addition to an illustrious stage career, where she originated the role of Maggie Jones in the Broadway musical “42nd Street” in 1980, Cook has enjoyed more than 60 screen credits.
She was first taken under the wing of TV legend Lucille Ball, to whom she credits her “big luck”.
“I didn’t have a place to live in California, so I lived in Lucy’s guesthouse until I settled down,” Cook told the Queer Voices website in 2019. “She changed my name. I was born Mildred Frances Cook but Lucy didn’t think that was a good show business name. She gave me the name Carole after Carole Lombard. Lucy said, ‘You have the same healthy disrespect for everything in general, just like Lombard.”
The ‘I Love Lucy’ star brought Cook from Ohio, where she was doing acting, to Hollywood to be part of Ball’s DESILU Theater Musical Revue.
“We’ve been friends for a number of years,” Ball said during an appearance on the game show “Password” with Cook in 1965.
Cook was also an active advocate for HIV/AIDS charities. The Broadway star has spent more than 30 years working with STAGE LA, a musical theater benefit for HIV/AIDS, and has performed annually at San Francisco’s Help Is On The Way benefit, an organization honoring the son of the founders, who died of the virus.
In 2015, the actress told BroadwayWorld.com that she would like to be remembered “as someone who made a small difference in people’s lives for good.”
“We all want to be loved, and that would be nice,” she said. “I’d like them to think, ‘I’m glad I knew her.'”
Cook is survived by her husband, Tom Troupe.