Suzanne Pleshette was looking forward to getting her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Jan. 31. “It is about … time,” she wrote in a note inviting friends to the ceremony. Her star, she added, would be located just outside the racy lingerie shop Frederick’s of Hollywood: “Where else?”
Such humor was typical of the raspy-voiced actress who, sadly, will miss her big day. Pleshette died of respiratory failure at age 70 in her L.A. home on Jan. 19, surrounded by loved ones. She had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006. (A longtime smoker, she quit 10 years ago.) “She fought tooth and nail,” says close friend Nikki Haskell. “She was in so much pain. The war is over.”
Most famous for playing Bob Newhart’s sassy schoolteacher wife on The Bob Newhart Show in the ’70s, Pleshette, who also appeared in a range of movies, including Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, was known among friends for her loyalty and her salty language. The Brooklyn native “could swear like a sailor yet she was very loving and caring,” says Haskell. She wed third husband (an occasional Bob Newhart costar and star of the subsequent Newhart) Tom Poston in 2001—”a perfect fit,” says friend Ed McMahon—and found out about her cancer less than a year before he died last April. “There’s an angel on my shoulder,” she wrote in her holiday card this year.
Pleshette will be buried between Poston and her second husband, Tommy Gallagher, who died in 2000. (Her first marriage, to actor Troy Donahue, lasted eight months.) The Jewish actress “got two gentiles into the [Jewish] cemetery. She was a special woman,” says producer George Schlatter. And the life of the party. As friend and author Jackie Collins says, “When you saw Suzanne leave a party, it was time to go.”