'Hill Street Blues' Star Barbara Bosson, Emmy-Nominated Former Wife of TV Powerhouse Steven Bochco, Dead at 83

Jesse Bosson announced the death of his mother, who starred in several high-profile primetime series — and earned six Emmy nominations — during her 27-year marriage his father

Barbara Bosson
Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty

Beloved 1980s primetime star Barbara Bosson has died at age 83.

Bosson's son Jesse Bochco confirmed the news on his Instagram Sunday.

"More spirit and zest than you could shake a stick at," wrote the TV producer and director, 47. "When she loved you, you felt it without a doubt. If she didn't, you may well have also known that too. Forever in our hearts. I love you Mama. Barbara "Babs" Bosson Bochco 1939-2023 ❤️"

Next to the caption, Bosson's son shared a photo of him as a toddler being cuddled by her during an outdoorsy day in the 1970s.

Bosson was most famous for her role on Hill Street Blues, which was created by her then-husband, TV power player Steven Bochco. Her performance as Fay Furillo, the ex-wife of Hill Street Precinct Captain Frank Furillo (Daniel J. Travanti), earned her five consecutive Emmy nominations from 1981 to 1985. She departed the series amid its sixth season that final year when her husband was fired over creative and financial disagreements with the show's production company MTM Enterprises.

A decade later, she would earn another Emmy nomination in 1996 for portraying prosecutor Miriam Grasso in Murder One, also a project created by her husband.

FROM THE PEOPLE ARCHIVE: Hill Street to Easy Street? Eight Emmys Clear the Way for Bochco & Bosson

Barbara Bosson
Ron Galella Collection via Getty

Before they divorced in 1997 after 27 years of marriage, Bosson worked with her husband on multiple series, most notably the 1970s Rockford Files spin-off Richie Brockelman, Private Eye, the late '80s dramedy Hooperman opposite John Ritter, and the infamous '90s procedural-musical hybrid Cop Rock.

Steven — who died in 2018 at age 74 — joked with PEOPLE in 1981 that his then-wife's name was spelled "B-O-S-S-O-N, with an 'n' as in 'nepotism.'" He went on to say, in earnest: "The only rule I have about working with friends and loved ones is that I'm not going to penalize them for it, but if they're not better than the next person on the list, I'm not going to hire them, either. I've never been very sensitive about charges of nepotism because I've turned Barbara down for parts before. We've had a few words about that."

For her part, Bosson said they mostly managed to keep the peace while intermingling their professional and personal lives. "The only thing I have trouble with — and I can handle it — is that Steven is so used to being an executive," she told PEOPLE. "I bristle at having someone else in charge. I have to get aggressive, and say, 'Look, this is the way it will be'—and he backs down immediately."

Barbara Bosson, Hill Street Blues
Barbara Bosson and the cast of Hill Street Blues. Getty Images

Bosson was born on Nov. 1, 1939, in the Pittsburgh suburb of Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Doris and John Bosson, a tennis coach who moonlighted as a milkman.

"I saw him suffer silently — he hated being a milkman — and that's why I was determined not to compromise," she told PEOPLE in 1981, shortly after Hill Street Blues won a then-record-setting eight Emmys for its second season on NBC.

She decided to be an actress at age 3 and traveled to New York City after high school to seek a stage career. "It was like going to Paris or London for me, I'd been so sheltered at home," she recalled. She tackled summer stock roles and served Playboy Club patrons as a Bunny before enrolling in a drama course at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie-Mellon) in 1965.

There she met her future husband, though the relationship was a non-starter at that time because Steven was married. The actress left school after her sophomore year and headed to the West Coast, where she scored an early role in the 1968 crime film Bullitt starring Steve McQueen.

While working with the improv group the Committee in L.A., Bosson was reintroduced to a then-divorced Bochco. They married in 1970, the same year they welcomed their daughter Melissa. Five years after that, the Bochcos became a family of four with the addition of Jesse in March 1975.

During her years juggling life as a working actress and mother of two, Bochco continued to book roles in multiple film and TV projects, most memorably starring in 1984's The Last Starfighter.

FROM THE PEOPLE ARCHIVES: In the Market for Bitter Fruit? Hooperman's Barbara Bosson Seems Always to Harvest a Bumper Crop

Barbara Bosson
Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty

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Bosson is survived by Jesse, Melissa and two grandchildren.

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