Joan Hotchkis, ‘The Odd Couple’ and ‘Legacy’ Star, Dies at 95

Joan Hotchkis, veteran stage and screen actor known for ABC’s “The Odd Couple” and “Legacy,” died Sept. 27 of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles, according to her daughter Paula Chambers. She was 95.

Hotchkis starred opposite William Windom in the NBC sitcom “My World and Welcome to It,” and played the on-again/off-again girlfriend of Jack Klugman’s Oscar Madison in “The Odd Couple.” As a playwright, she wrote 1974’s “Legacy,” a one-woman play about an upper-class housewife who deteriorates mentally. The following year, she wrote and starred in the film adaptation of “Legacy,” which won the best newcomer award at the Tehran International Film Festival.

Born on Sept. 21, 1927, in Los Angeles, Hotchkis was the last surviving child of civic leaders Preston Hotchkis and Katharine Bixby, who led the Metropolitan Water District and the California Historical Society.

After earning a B.A. in psychology from Smith College and an M.A. in early childhood education from Bank Street Teachers College, Hotchkis decided to pursue acting at 27.

She became member of The Actors Studio in New York, where she studied with Lee Strasberg and appeared in several TV commercials and guest spots. While shooting a commercial, she met director Bob Foster; they married in 1958 and had Paula.

Hotchkis played Myra on long-running soap opera “The Secret Storm,” and made her Broadway debut in 1960 at the Cort Theatre in “Advise and Consent,” with Conrad Bain, Ed Begley and Richard Kiley.

After divorcing in 1967, Hotchkis moved with her daughter back to Los Angeles, where she joined the Actors Studio West. Throughout the ’70s, she guest starred on several series, including “Lou Grant,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Mannix,” “The New Dick Van Dyke Show,” “St. Elsewhere,” “Marcus Welby” and “Barnaby Jones” before starring as Lydia in the 1980 syndicated sitcom, “The Life and Times of Eddie Roberts.”

On the film side, she starred opposite William Holden in 1973’s “Breezy,” and played Anna “Mama” Hartley in the 1976 cult classic “Ode to Billie Joe.”

Shortly after filming “Legacy,” Hotchkis was diagnosed with meningioma. She returned to stage acting following her brain surgery, where she appeared in “Cowboy Jack Street,” “The Balcony,” “A Winter’s Tale,” “London Assurance” and “Hay Fever.” Most notably, she portrayed Amanda Wingfield in “The Glass Menagerie” four times in the 1980s.

Hotchkis is survived by her daughter Paula.

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