Former CHiPs and Black Sheep Squadron Actress Denise DuBarry Hay Dies at 63 from Rare Illness
The actress and leading philanthropist in the Coachella Valley died in Los Angeles over the weekend after battling a rare and deadly fungus
Denise DuBarry Hay, the actress best known for her roles on CHiPs and Black Sheep Squadron, died over the weekend. She was 63.
DuBarry Hay’s husband Bill Hay confirmed the sad news to the Desert Sun newspaper, explaining that his wife died on Saturday — just 17 days after celebrating her birthday — at UCLA Medical Center from a rare, deadly fungus.
The exact kind of fungus and how long she had been having health problems were not immediately clear.
Representatives for DuBarry Hay did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Besides her role as Sue on CHiPs and Nurse Samantha Green on Black Sheep Squadron, DuBarry Hay also appeared on a number of other programs including The Love Boat, Days of Our Lives, Charlie’s Angels, and the 1979 Academy Award-winning movie Being There.
In addition to her time on the screen, DuBarry Hay worked to build a film industry in the Coachella Valley, where she became involved in the Olive Crest nonprofit for abused and at-risk children, according to the Desert Sun.
She eventually became the president of Palm Springs Women in Film and Television — a group that founded in 2001 to bring more production work to the Coachella Valley instead of the Inland Empire — and played a major role in the establishment the group’s annual fundraiser, the Broken Glass Awards, The Hollywood Reporter said.
Years later, the star founded her own production company called Blue Moxie Entertainment and her own marketing company called Kaswit, Inc.
Many of the films that the company took on were screened during the Palm Springs International Film Festival, most recently including Do It or Die (2017) and Walk to Vegas (2019).
Throughout her career, DuBarry Hay earned several prestigious accolades including Ernst & Young’s 1998 Entrepreneur of the Year and was named to Response Magazine‘s list of the “21 People Leading Us Into the 21st Century” in 2000, Desert Sun reported.
In the wake of her death, those who crossed paths with DuBarry Hay remembered her for “huge heart,” natural business sense and ambition, and charisma.
Film producer Kim Waltrip, who recruited her to the Olive Crest board, told the Desert Sun that DuBarry Hay was “ahead of her time” as a strong, supportive, and empowering woman in the workplace.
“For me, she was like a very classy businesswoman,” she recalled to the outlet. “She was ahead of her time in terms of women supporting women. She always supported women. She was an entrepreneur and she was kind to everyone.”
“She was super-ambitious and always supportive of everything everybody did. I got her involved in Olive Crest and she donated money for those houses [for the children.] When Denise gets involved, she goes all-in and she hosted fundraisers at her house. She just made sure Olive Crest had everything it needed.”
Former Congresswoman Mary Bono, who was married to the late Sonny Bono and was one of DuBarry Hay’s longtime friends, echoed those sentiments.
“She always had just a huge heart and soul, but she also had a really keen business sense,” she told Desert Sun. “She was just brilliant and she could see future business ideas long before anybody else could. She just had the ability to create things.”
“She’s one of the kindest people at all times — under duress — and always had a positive and encouraging word for everybody at any time,” Bono added.
Her daughter Whitney Hay paid tribute to her mother on Instagram.
“Some of us burn long and steady like candles. Others – loud and quickly like fireworks. My mother was a bonfire. A bright, warm, and beautiful light who drew in every passerby. Her flame touched many lives and changed the planet for the better. I’m so so glad I got to be her daughter and best friend. I love you to the moon and back mommy. I still feel your warmth,” the USC student wrote.
Her other daughter, actress Samantha Lockwood, shared a photo taken of them both when they last visited Hawaii.
“Beautiful Spirit Mom. 💗✨🧘🏼♀️Our last trip to Kauai I brought her to my favorite mediation spot. She was always so gracious to support me in anything I wanted to go after. Whether it was friendships, travels or my interests. She was and always will be a number one momma. Her best job in life was in giving us that support to make our choices and follow our dreams. Life feels like a dream. Love you mom.”
In addition to her daughters, DuBarry Harry is also survived by her sons Adam and Kyle Hay, according to the Desert Sun.
DuBarry Hay’s husband told the newspaper that a private celebration of life is scheduled for April.