Marcia Strassman, who played Gabe Kaplan's wife, Julie, on the 1970s sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter," succumbed Saturday to the breast cancer she had been battling for years. She was 66.
Her friend director Bob Weide confirmed her death to The Hollywood Reporter. He had tweeted Saturday, "So sad that a sweet friend, kind person and wonderful actress, Marcia Strassman, lost her brave battle with cancer today." Singer-actress Cher also tweeted Saturday that she had lost "a funny, talented friend."
A prolific performer, Strassman is also known for playing Diane Szalinski in the "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" movies and for her recurring role as nurse Margie Cutler on a half-dozen episodes of "M*A*S*H." She later joined the cast of the 1975-1979 ABC comedy "Welcome Back, Kotter," about a teacher who returns to work at his old Brooklyn high school. Among her castmates was a young John Travolta in his breakout role.
Marcia Strassman was born April 28, 1948, in New York City, and raised in Passaic, New Jersey. She began her career in modeling and musical theater, and as a teen replaced Liza Minnelli in the Off-Broadway production "Best Foot Forward."
Her sister Julie Strassman, who also confirmed the death, told Deadline.com that her sibling moved to Los Angeles at age 18, and became a locally popular singer with the songs "The Flower Children" and "The Groovy World of Jack and Jill." She broke into TV, doing three episodes of "The Patty Duke Show" in the mid-1960s before she took a break from acting, and returned in 1972 with "M*A*S*H."
After "Kotter," she guest-starred on numerous series and starred in the shows including Richard Grieco's "Booker" and Syfy's "Tremors," based on the movie franchise. She played the recurring role of Sergeant Laura Wynn on "Third Watch" and rallied to play a small role as Opal in this year's Vivica A. Fox telefilm "Looking for Mr. Right."
In addition to her sister, she is survived by her brother, Steven Strassman, and her daughter, New York costume designer Elizabeth "Lizzie" Collector.