While many will remember Cook as Grandma Helen in “Sixteen Candles,” she also was one of the first actors to play Dolly Levi in the classic musical “Hello, Dolly!”

WASHINGTON — Carole Cook, a stage and screen actor who became a protégé of Lucille Ball, has died at the age of 98. 

Her husband, actor Tom Troupe, said Cook died of heart failure on Wednesday in Beverly Hills, Calif., just three days shy of her birthday, according to the Hollywood Reporter and other outlets. 

Cook’s career involved multiple theater credits, which included originating the role of Maggie Jones in the Tony Award-winning musical “42nd Street.” She also followed Carol Channing as just the second actor to play Dolly Levi in the classic musical “Hello, Dolly!” 

In “Sixteen Candles,” she played Molly Ringwald’s Grandma Helen and played Don Knotts’ wife Bessie Limpet in “The Incredible Mr. Limpet.”   

Born Mildred Frances Cook, the Abilene, Texas native, first moved out to Los Angeles at Ball’s behest, according to PEOPLE. In a 2015 interview with BroadwayWorld.com, Cook explained that it was Ball who convinced her to change her name

The two worked together on 18 episodes of “The Lucy Show” and five episodes of the CBS spin-off “Here’s Lucy.” 

“We’ve been friends for several years,” Ball recounted during an appearance together on an episode of “Password.”  

Her TV career also spanned decades and included guest appearances on “Laverne & Shirley,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and many others.

In 2018, Cook was criticized for remarks to TMZ suggesting that then-President Donald Trump should be assassinated. While she said it was “obviously a joke,” she recounted later how she met with the Secret Service afterwards who “could not have been nicer.” 



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