By Tyler Aquilina
October 13, 2020 at 05:49 PM EDT
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Credit: Lester Cohen/WireImage

Conchata Ferrell, the character actress known for her role as the witty housekeeper Berta on Two and a Half Men, has died. She was 77.

Ferrell died Monday of complications from a cardiac arrest after several months in poor health, beginning when she contracted a kidney infection in December. She fell ill again in May and spent several weeks in intensive care, later being transferred to a long-term care facility after suffering a heart attack. She died peacefully at a hospital in Sherman Oaks, Calif., her daughter, Samantha Anderson, told the New York Times.

Born in 1943 in West Virginia, Ferrell began her acting career on stage at New York's Circle Repertory Company. She earned acclaim for her performances in such plays as The Sea Horse — for which she won a Drama Desk Award and an Obie Award — and The Hot l Baltimore. The latter helped propel her to onscreen work: Ferrell reprised her Hot l Baltimore role in a TV adaptation produced by Norman Lear.

Over the next five decades, Ferrell appeared in over 100 films and TV shows, including Mystic Pizza, Edward Scissorhands, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Friends, and had a rare leading role in the acclaimed 1979 film Heartland, alongside Rip Torn. She also taught acting for television at UCLA for several years.

Ferrell earned an Emmy nomination in 1992 for L.A. Law, with two more for Two and a Half Men to follow. She appeared on the long-running sitcom for virtually its entire run, though her character was originally intended to appear in only two episodes.

"[Berta] just grew into somebody who I could've gone to school with, or rode the school bus with. I've really liked walking with her and walking in her shoes," Ferrell told The A.V. Club ahead of the show's conclusion in 2015.

Ferrell's Two and a Half Men costar Jon Cryer paid tribute to her on Twitter, recalling their experience working on the sitcom together. "She was a beautiful human," he wrote. "Berta’s gruff exterior was an invention of the writers. Chatty’s warmth and vulnerability were her real strengths. I’m crying for the woman I’ll miss, and the joy she brought so many.

"I remember her first day on 2 1/2 Men," he continued. "It was our second episode and I felt so lucky that they’d been able to cast her on the show. I gushed to her about what a fan I was of hers and she simply refused to believe it....I’m glad that I absolutely knew how fortunate I was to share a stage with her. I treasured every moment and will continue to until we meet again."

Ferrell is survived by her daughter Samantha and Arnie Anderson, her husband of more than 30 years.

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