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Verna Bloom, Actress in ‘Animal House,’ ‘High Plains Drifter,’ Dies at 80

Verna Bloom, who appeared in “Animal House” and worked with the likes of Martin Scorsese, died Jan. 9 in Bar Harbor, Maine, her rep confirmed to Variety. She was 80 years old.

The cause was complications of dementia, her family stated.

Although Bloom appeared extensively in theater and television, she is most noted for her film work. One of her memorable roles came in John Landis’ 1978 comedy “Animal House,” in which she appeared as the drunken, debauched wife of the beleaguered Dean Wormer. She also appeared in three films by Martin Scorsese — “Street Scenes 1970,” “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988), and “After Hours” (1985) — and two by Clint Eastwood: “High Plains Drifter” (1973) and “Honkytonk Man” (1982).

Bloom was born in Lynn, Mass., in 1938. After graduating from Boston University, she moved to Denver and started a local theater. Moving to New York in the mid-1960s, she starred as Charlotte Corday in the Broadway revival of “Marat/Sade” and, shortly after, on the recommendation of the writer-historian Studs Terkel, made her film debut in Haskell Wexler’s “Medium Cool” (1969), in which she played a young Appalachian mother caught up in the street violence of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. For her performance, she was nominated for both lead and supporting actress by the National Society of Film Critics.

Bloom fulfilled a lifelong dream by starring with Frank Sinatra in the two-part television film “Contract on Cherry Street” (1977), and then appearing in Peter Fonda’s elegiac Western “The Hired Hand” (1981).

She is survived by her husband of 49 years, screenwriter Jay Cocks (“Gangs of New York”), and her son Sam.

Donations may be made to Bonaparte’s Retreat Dog Rescue.

(Pictured: Verna Bloom and Tim Matheson in “Animal House”)

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