April 11, 2010 / 7:25 AM / 9 years ago

"Designing Women" actress Dixie Carter dies

Best supporting actor Oscar nominee Hal Holbrook from the film "Into The Wild," arrives with his wife, Dixie Carter, at the 80th annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, February 24, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actress Dixie Carter, who played an outspoken liberal on the sitcom “Designing Women” and received an Emmy nomination for a guest role on “Desperate Housewives,” has died, according to TV gossip show “Entertainment Tonight.” She was 70.

“This has been a terrible blow to our family,” actor Hal Holbrook, Carter’s husband since 1984, was quoted as telling “Entertainment Tonight.” “We would appreciate everyone understanding that this is a private family tragedy.”

Holbrook said his wife died on Saturday from complications of endometrial cancer at a Houston hospital, according to the New York Times.

“Designing Women,” which ran on CBS for seven seasons from 1986, revolved around the lives of four women and a man at an interior design firm in Atlanta. Carter’s sharp-tongued character, Julia Sugarbaker, was an advocate of liberal causes and women’s rights.

In 2007, Carter received an Emmy nomination for a stint as the devious mother-in-law of Marcia Cross’ character, Bree Hodge, on “Desperate Housewives.”

The Tennessee native also appeared in the 1980s sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes” toward the end of its run, playing the wife of Conrad Bain’s character Philip Drummond. The role was later assumed by Mary Ann Mobley after it switched networks.

In later years, Carter — whose early singing career included a revival of “Pal Joey” on Broadway — performed in cabaret.

In addition to her 85-year-old husband, Carter is survived by her daughters from her first marriage, Mary Dixie and Ginna, “Entertainment Tonight” said.

Reporting by Dean Goodman; editing by Sandra Maler and Todd Eastham

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