Mary Frann

Actress Mary Frann, who played Bob Newhart’s television wife on the hit series “Newhart,” died in her sleep Wednesday at her Los Angeles home. She was 55.

According to publicist Jeffrey Lane, the cause of death wasn’t immediately known.

A veteran TV actress, Frann was best known for playing the character of Joanna Louden on “Newhart” during its eight-year run on CBS.

She also starred in the ABC series “Kings Crossing” and in the Jackie Collins miniseries “Lucky Chances” on NBC. She played Amanda Peters for four years on NBC’s “Days of Our Lives.”

Born in St. Louis, Frann was a child model and performed live TV commercials for a local station while she was in high school. She studied drama at Northwestern U. and worked as a weather reporter for the NBC affiliate in St. Louis.

She later moved to Chicago and hosted a morning show on the ABC affiliate for four years. She then relocated to Los Angeles to appear in the ABC series “My Friend Tony,” which launched her TV acting career.

In addition to her TV series work, Frann starred in the telefilms “Fatal Charm,” “Single Women, Married Men,” “Eight is Enough: A Family Reunion” and “The Hitchhiker.”

On stage she appeared in “Story Theater” and in “Love Letters.”

Frann also was active in charities, and the night before she died was working with homeless women at the Los Angeles Mission, where she served on a celebrity volunteer committee.

She is survived by two sisters and a brother.

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