Sada Thompson, a Tony- and Emmy-winning actress known for her portrayals of archetypal mothers, from the loving family caretaker and the world-weary, had-it-with-the-kids older woman to the brutalizing harridan and mythical adulteress and murderess, died Wednesday in Danbury, Conn. She was 83.
The cause was lung disease, said her daughter, Liza Sguaglia.
From 1976 to 1980 she starred as Kate Lawrence, the matriarch of an upper-middle-class family in ABC drama FAMILY. FAMILY dealt straightforwardly with issues like the marital problems of the Lawrences’ eldest daughter (played at the time by Meredith Baxter Birney); the discovery by the teenage son (Gary Frank) that his long-time best friend was gay; and the distress of the youngest daughter (Kristy McNichol) on overhearing her mother saying that she sometimes wished she hadn’t had her.
Thompson was nominated for an Emmy four times in the show’s five seasons, winning in 1978.