Mary Frann

Mary Frann
Mary Frann
Born Mary Frances Luecke
February 27, 1943(1943-02-27)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died September 23, 1998(1998-09-23) (aged 55)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Other names Jennifer Douglas
Mary Fran
Years active 1964 – 1998
Spouse Thomas J. Escott (1977 – divorced)

Mary Frann (February 27, 1943 – September 23, 1998) was an American actress best known for her role as Bob Newhart's wife, Joanna Loudon, on the television series Newhart.


Early life and career

Born Mary Frances Luecke in St. Louis, Missouri, Frann was a child model and appeared in commercials for a local television station while she was at Nerinx Hall High School. At the age of 18, she was voted Missouri's "Junior Miss." She went on to win the 1961 national title of America's Junior Miss and earned a college scholarship. Frann studied drama at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and worked as a weather reporter for the NBC station in St. Louis.[1][2]

In 1964, Frann made her television debut in an episode of the Kraft Suspense Theatre. That same year, she appeared in the television movie Nightmare in Chicago with Carroll O'Connor. In 1966, Frann made her film debut in Nashville Rebel with Waylon Jennings and Loretta Lynn. The movie was a commercial failure. Frann would go on to appear in only one more film, 1976's Woman in the Rain, concentrating on television guest spots and roles in television movies.

In 1974, Frann landed the role of Amanda Howard on the soap opera Days of our Lives. She would remain on the show until 1979. While on Days of our Lives, Frann also made guest appearances on Quincy, M.E., The Rockford Files, Fantasy Island, and WKRP in Cincinnati. In 1982, Frann starred in the short-lived series King's Crossing with Linda Hamilton. Later that year, she landed her most memorable role as Joanna Loudon, the wife of Vermont inn owner Dick Loudon (Bob Newhart), in the popular sitcom Newhart. The series ran from 1982 to 1990, and was nominated for 25 Emmys and five Golden Globes. During the run of Newhart, Frann continued acting in various projects. In 1985, she co-starred in the TV movie Gidget's Summer Reunion, and in 1988, she appeared in Dance 'til Dawn with Alyssa Milano, Christina Applegate, and Kelsey Grammer. Frann also co-hosted the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants of 1986 and 1987.

Her last acting role came in the series Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction. Due to the sporadic airing of the series, the episode she was in, "The Curse of Hampton Manor," aired two years after her death.[3]

Charity work

Outside of her career, Frann was active as a volunteer fund raiser and was involved with charitable works. She was a member of the Celebrity Action Council, a volunteer group of celebrity women who served the women’s outreach of the Los Angeles Mission, for seven years. The night before her death, she had attended a meeting at the Mission where she championed the cause for women in need.[4]


On September 23, 1998, Frann died in her sleep at her home in Beverly Hills, California.[5] An autopsy later determined that she died of a heart attack and also suffered from an undiagnosed scarring of the heart muscle tissue.[6] Her remains are interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Selected filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1966 Nashville Rebel Molly Morgan
1976 Woman In the Rain Alternative title: A Hell Black Night
Year Title Role Notes
1964 Kraft Suspense Theatre Annette 1 episode
1968 Get Smart Stewardess 1 episode
That Girl Pat the Secretary 1 episode
1969 Bonanza Barbara Parker 1 episode
Lancer Dorrie 1 episode
1971 The Bill Cosby Show Louise 1 episode
1972 The Mary Tyler Moore Show Joanne 1 episode
Hawaii Five-O Jean Holland 1 episode
Search Stephanie Burnside 1 episode
1973 Cannon Janice Rogers 1 episode
1973–1974 Return to Peyton Place D. B. Bentley Unknown episodes
1974 Apple's Way Claudine Delacorte 1 episode
1974–1979 Days of our Lives Amanda Howard Unknown episodes
1975–1978 The Rockford Files Valerie Thomas/Maria Heller
Ruth Beetson-White
2 episodes
1977 The Fantastic Journey Roxanne 1 episode
Quincy, M.E. Christine Hopwood 1 episode
1978 Fantasy Island Grace Arnold 1 episode
The Incredible Hulk Karen Weiss 1 episode
1981 Nero Wolfe Janet Eaton 1 episode
WKRP in Cincinnati Avis Dropkin 2 episodes
King's Crossing Nan Hollister 7 episodes
1982–1990 Newhart Joanna Loudon 184 episodes
1987 Eight is Enough: A Family Reunion Abby Bradford Television movie
1988 Dance 'Til Dawn Nancy Johnson Television movie
1990 I'm Dangerous Tonight Martha Television movie
Lucky/Chances Clementine Duke Miniseries
1991 The Hitchhiker Veronica 1 episode
1994 Burke's Law Brittany Moore 1 episode
1997 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Alice White 1 episode
1998 Diagnosis: Murder Lucy Caruso 1 episode
2000 Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Bev Conklin 1 episode


External links

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