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Designing Women star Dixie Carter Dead at 70

Dixie Carter, who is perhaps best known for her role as Julia Sugarbaker on the long-running CBS sitcom “Designing Women,” has died at the age of 70.

Steve Rohr, publicist for Carter and her husband, actor Hal Holbrook, said Carter died Saturday morning at a Houston hospital of complications from cancer. “This has been a terrible blow to our family,” Holbrook said in a statement. “We would appreciate everyone understanding that this is a private family tragedy.”

“Designing Women” ran from 1986 to 1993 and co-starred Delta Burke, Annie Potts and Jean Smart. “The show was written just for us,” Carter told the Palm Beach Post in 1999. “We all thought we were the prettiest and the funniest.”

Dixie Virginia Carter, the middle of three children, was born May 25, 1939, in McLemoresville, Tenn. She graduated from Memphis State University with a bachelor’s degree in English.

She later debuted off-Broadway in “A Winter’s Tale” at the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1963 for Joseph Papp. “He told me that some of the biggest successes in New York were country bumpkins because they were so unsophisticated they’d try anything,” she said.

She gave up acting when she married investment banker Arthur Carter in 1967. “I was brought up in the South and [quitting your career to be a wife and mother] was what you did,” she told the Hartford Courant in 2003. “My whole life I had been an actress in spurts because my family is more important to me than anything else.”

She restarted her career in the 1970s and 80s with a roles on the soap opera “The Edge of Night”, “Diff’rent Strokes” and “Filthy Rich.”

In recent years, Carter was nominated for an Emmy in 2007 for her role as a mother-in-law on “Desperate Housewives.” She also appeared in the drama “Family Law” from 1999 to 2002. In 2009, Carter and Holbrook were in the film “That Evening Sun.”

Carter and Holbrook were married in 1984. In addition to Holbrook, Carter is survived by daughters Mary Dixie and Ginna and a sister, Melba Helen Heath. She was divorced from Arthur Carter and actor George Hearn.

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