TV character actress Peggy Rea dies at 89

She had recurring roles on 'Waltons,' 'Dukes of Hazzard'

Matronly character actress Peggy Rea, best known for her work of “The Waltons,” “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “Grace Under Fire,” died in Toluca Lake, Calif., on Feb. 5 of complications from congestive heart failure. She was 89.

Before beginning her long career on TV, Rea was the secretary to Arthur Freed, producer of many musicals at MGM.

Rea also had stage experience, appearing in Anthony Quinn’s touring production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” for 2 1/2 years as well as in the Cole Porter musical comedy “Out of This World” and the revue “Lend an Ear.”

Her first TV credits were on four episodes of “I Love Lucy” in 1953.

During the 1960s she racked up credits on shows including “Dr. Kildare” and “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” appearing several times on “Gunsmoke” and as a member of the stock company for “The Red Skelton Hour.”

She also occasionally drew credits as a casting director on Western “Have Gun Will Travel” from 1961-63 while also appearing on the show on occasion.

Rea continued to work steadily in TV during the 1970s and ’80s, appearing in 38 episodes of “The Waltons” as Olivia Walton’s cousin, Rose Burton, and 18 episodes of “The Dukes of Hazzard” as Lulu Hogg.

She remained busy during the 1990s. In the ABC comedy “Grace Under Fire” she played Brett Butler’s mother-in-law, Jean Kelly, for 51 episodes from 1993-98.

Film credits include the 1960s pics “7 Faces of Dr. Lao,” starring Tony Randall, and “Strange Bedfellows,” with Rock Hudson; 1971’s “Cold Turkey,” starring Dick Van Dyke; 1989’s “In Country,” with Bruce Willis; 1992’s “Love Field,” with Michelle Pfeiffer; and 1995’s “Devil in a Blue Dress,” with Denzel Washington.

The funeral will take place at 11 a.m. on Feb. 28 at Santa Barbara Cemetery, 901 Channel Dr., Santa Barbara.

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