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Entertainment Weekly

TV

Elmarie Wendel, 3rd Rock From the Sun actress, dies at 89

Dave Bjerke/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Posted on

Elmarie Wendel, the actress best known for portraying the eccentric landlady Mrs. Dubcek on the ’90s sitcom 3rd Rock From the Sun, has died at age 89.

Wendel’s daughter, fellow actress J.C. Wendel, confirmed her mother’s passing Saturday evening and paid tribute to her on Instagram, writing, “#ripelmariewendel you were a great mom and a badass dame.” The post also included a shot of Wendel among her 3rd Rock castmates celebrating the NBC series’ 100th episode.

An Iowa native, Wendel grew up in a performing family, traveling with her two musical parents throughout her childhood before settling in New York City and finding early success on Broadway. It was a national touring production of Annie that brought Wendel to Hollywood.

Prior to the success she found as Mrs. Dubcek beginning in 1996, Wendel racked up guest star credits on television shows including SeinfeldNYPD BlueMurphy Brown; and Murder, She Wrote.

3rd Rock ended its run in 2001, and Wendel continued to perform, making her mark as a voice actress as Aunt Grizelda in the 2012 big-screen Dr. Seuss adaptation The Lorax. In 2015, she lent her voice to the popular videogame Fallout 4.

Wendel continued to work in live action as well, most notably appearing as assembly line worker Gina on George Lopez from 2003 to 2007. Throughout her career, Wendel’s Broadway credits included Wonderful Town, Little Mary Sunshine, Gigi, and Cole Porter Revisited.

3rd Rock costar Jim Beaver also posted a tribute to Wendel on social media, writing, “I’ve just heard from her daughter JC that my friend and colleague from 3rd ROCK FROM THE SUN, Elmarie Wendel, has died. She was raucous, funny, endearing, and terribly, terribly sweet. Goodnight, Mrs. Dubcek, wherever you are.”

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