The soap star, whose career started with Citizen Kane, succumbs to pneumonia

January 18, 2005 08:00 AM

Ruth Warrick, whose 1941 movie debut was in the great cinematic achievement Citizen Kane but who found lasting fame as busybody Phoebe Tyler Wallingford on daytime TV’s All My Children, died at her Manhattan home Saturday of complications from pneumonia, ABC announced Monday. She was 88.

Honored last May with a Daytime Emmy Award for lifetime achievement, Warrick, who reveled in playing Phoebe, only two weeks ago appeared on AMC for a show celebrating its 35th anniversary. She had been with the soap since its 1970 start.

“I understand her. I may not be all Phoebe, but she is all me,” Warrick wrote in her 1980 autobiography, The Confessions of Phoebe Tyler.

Susan Lucci, who plays Erica Kane on All My Children, considered Warrick – who was the icy, patrician first wife to Orson Welles’s blustery publishing magnate in Kane – a mentor and recalled her sense of fun. Lucci tells The New York Times that at the height of the streaking fad, Warrick showed up on the TV set wearing only a mink coat … and flashed.

Before AMC, Warrick, a Missouri native, starred in the series Father of the Bride and received an Emmy nomination for her role as Hannah Cord in the long-running Peyton Place. She also appeared in two other TV series: As the World Turns, from 1956-60, and The Guiding Light, from 1953-54, the Associated Press reports.

Three children, a grandson and six great-grandchildren survive the actress, who was married five times.

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