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Sada Thompson
James Broderick and Sada Thompson.JPG
James Broderick and Sada Thompson on Family (1976)
Sada Carolyn Thompson

(1927-09-27)September 27, 1927
DiedMay 4, 2011(2011-05-04) (aged 83)
EducationCarnegie Mellon University (BFA)
Years active1955–2000
Spouse(s)Donald Stewart (1949–2011; her death)

Sada Carolyn Thompson (September 27, 1927 – May 4, 2011) was an American stage, film, and television actress. She was known to television audiences as Kate Lawrence in Family (1976-1980).

Life and career

She was born Sada Carolyn Thompson in Des Moines, Iowa in 1927 [1] to Hugh Woodruff Thompson and his wife Corlyss (née Gibson). The family moved to Fanwood, New Jersey a few years later.[2][3] where she attended Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, graduating in the class of 1945.[4] Thompson earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now known as Carnegie Mellon University),[3] after which she worked steadily in regional theatre in such plays as The Seagull, Pygmalion, Our Town, Arms and the Man, and Blithe Spirit. She received training at Pittsburgh Playhouse, where she appeared in numerous productions.[5]

She made her Off-Broadway debut in a 1955 production of Under Milkwood,[3] and the following year she appeared on television in a Goodyear Television Playhouse production. She made her Broadway debut in the 1959 musical Juno. Her additional New York City stage-credits include The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Tartuffe, and Twigs. Her stage performances won her an Obie Award, a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play (for "Twigs"), three Drama Desk Awards and two Sarah Siddons Awards (the last presented for outstanding performances in Chicago theatre). She was elected to the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2005.[6]

On the strength of her success in Twigs, Thompson was signed to play neighbor Irene Lorenzo on All in the Family. After taping her first episode, however, she was replaced by Betty Garrett, when it became obvious that she and producer Norman Lear had different opinions about how the character should be played.[3]

She was subsequently cast as matriarch Kate Lawrence on Family. Thompson's portrayal of Kate was lauded for its realism. [7] She won the 1978 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for the role, which also garnered three nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series Drama.

She was nominated for the Emmy Award nine times, including a nomination for her portrayal of Carla's mother on Cheers. [8] Thompson's additional television credits included Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, The Love Boat, Father Dowling Mysteries, Andre's Mother, Indictment: The McMartin Trial, ER and Law & Order. Her feature films included The Pursuit of Happiness, Desperate Characters, and Pollock.

Personal life

Thompson was married to Donald E. Stewart from December 18, 1949, until her death. [9] She and her husband lived in Southbury, Connecticut. Their daughter, Liza Stewart, is a costume designer.[10]


Sada Thompson died on May 4, 2011, in Danbury, Connecticut, of lung disease, aged 83.[10]



Year Title Role Notes
1971 The Pursuit of Happiness Ruth Lawrence
1971 Desperate Characters Claire
1976 The Entertainer Phoebe Rice Television movie
1977 Our Town Mrs. Gibbs Television movie
1983 Princess Daisy Masha Television movie
1986 My Two Loves Dorothea
1987 Father Dowling Mysteries Maria Pello Television movie
1989 Home Fires Burning Pastine Tibbetts
1989 Fear Stalk Pearl
1990 Andre's Mother Katharine Gerard Television movie
1995 Indictment: The McMartin Trial Virginia McMartin Television movie
1997 Any Mother's Son Gertie Television movie
1998 The Patron Saint of Liars Sister Evangeline Television movie
2000 Pollock Stella Pollock


Year Title Role Notes
1961 Camera Three Rosalyn Episode: "The Cracked Looking Glass"
1963 The Nurses Mrs. Mitchell Episode: "The Helping Hand"
1964 The DuPont Show of the Week Judy Episode: "The Missing Bank of Rupert X. Humperdinck"
1973 Love Story Mamma Cassalini Episode: "Joie"
1974–76 Lincoln Mary Todd Lincoln 5 episodes
1976–80 Family Kate Lawrence 86 episodes
1982 Marco Polo Aunt Flora 2 episodes
1986 The Love Boat Laura Jameson 2 episodes
1991 Cheers Mama Lozupone Episode: "Honor Thy Mother"
1993 Alex Haley's Queen Miss Mandy 3 episodes
1995 Law & Order Elaine Nicodos Episode: "Jeopardy"

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1976 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Lincoln Nominated
1976 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie The Entertainer Nominated
1977 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Family Nominated
1977 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
1978 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Won
1979 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Nominated
1979 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
1980 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Nominated
1980 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
1991 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Cheers Nominated
1995 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Indictment: The McMartin Trial Nominated


  1. ^
  2. ^ McLellan, Dennis. "Sada Thompson dies at 83; stage and TV actress known for playing matriarch on Family", Los Angeles Times, May 6, 2011. Accessed June 18, 2016. "Born Sada Carolyn Thompson in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sept. 27, 1927, she moved with her family to Fanwood, N.J., several years later."
  3. ^ a b c d
  4. ^ Staff, "New inductees to Scotch Plains-Fanwood H.S. Hall of Fame", Suburban News, October 9, 2014. Accessed June 18, 2016. "Sada Thompson. Class of 1945. Now deceased, Sada starred as an actress in productions off-Broadway, Broadway, TV and films."
  5. ^ Conner, Lynne (2007). Pittsburgh In Stages: Two Hundred Years of Theater. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 152. ISBN 978-0-8229-4330-3. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
  6. ^ "Theater Hall of Fame inducts Thompson, Lithgow, others". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b Weber, Bruce (May 5, 2011). "Sada Thompson, Actress Known for Maternal Roles, Dies at 83". The New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2011.

External links

This page was last edited on 1 September 2021, at 06:03
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