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Entertainment

March 8, 2014

Sheila MacRae of 'Honeymooners' fame dies at 92

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (AP) — Sheila MacRae starred on the Broadway stage and in films, yet it was her small-screen role as the tolerant and brassy wife of a Brooklyn bus driver for which she is most remembered.

MacRae, best known for playing Alice Kramden to Jackie Gleason's Ralph in the 1960s re-creation of "The Honeymooners," died Thursday. She was 92.

The actress died at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, N.J., MacRae's granddaughter, Allison Mullavey, told The Associated Press on Friday.

In the 1950s version of "The Honeymooners," Audrey Meadows starred with Gleason as the lovebirds and sparring partners Ralph and Alice. Sheila MacRae replaced Meadows as Alice in a later version from 1966-70 on "The Jackie Gleason Show." MacRae was the last survivor from the '60s edition of the Gleason show. Jane Kean, who played Trixie Norton, died last fall.

"My mother referred to herself as the last Mrs. Kramden," said her daughter, actress Heather MacRae.

"She had a great life, my mom, she really did. She was quite a broad," Heather MacRae said. "Fascinating, almost like an Autie Mame character."

MacRae, who suffered from dementia but was otherwise in good health, had been hospitalized for a minor surgical procedure. Her death came suddenly Thursday night, apparently the result of old age, said Heather MacRae.

A singer, dancer and actress, MacRae was married to "Oklahoma!" and "Carousel" star Gordon MacRae for 26 years, and they appeared together in 1964 on "The Ed Sullivan Show" when the Beatles were featured.

She had put her career on hold while she devoted herself to MacRae and their four children, Heather MacRae said. After helping her husband with his nightclub act, she decided to join him and her career took off, her daughter said. The couple appeared together in musicals including "Guys and Dolls," with Sheila MacRae taking her performance as Miss Adelaide to Broadway in 1965.

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