How did Carole Cook die? ‘Sixteen Candles’ star and Lucille Ball protege dies 3 days ahead of 99th birthday

How did Carole Cook die? ‘Sixteen Candles’ star and Lucille Ball protege dies 3 days ahead of 99th birthday
Carole Cook died at the age of 98 (Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Warner Bros Studio Tour Hollywood)

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA: Carole Cook, Lucille Ball protégé and 'Sixteen Candles' star died on Wednesday, January 11, at the age of 98. As per Hollywood Reporter, her husband Tom Troupe claimed she experienced heart failure in her Beverly Hills home just three days before her 99th birthday.

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Cook, who was born in Abilene, Texas, on January 14, 1924, saw her career soar in the 1960s as a result of her stints on 'The Lucy Show' and 'Here's Lucy.' It was rumored that Ball, who hosted such programs, persuaded Cook to alter her name from Mildred Frances to Carole in tribute to the actress Carole Lombard. "I consider myself to have known two great women in Ethel Merman and Lucille Ball — great, great, enormous, genius talents," Cook once told Everything Zommer about her cherished inspirations. Ball died in 1989 at the age of 77.

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Carole Cook performs at The 4th Annual S.T.A.G.E. Event on October 25, 2003 in Los Angeles, California.
Carole Cook performs at The 4th Annual S.T.A.G.E. Event (Photo by Giulio Marcocchi/Getty Images)

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In a previous interview, Cook said that Ethel Merman and Lucille Ball were two amazing women. "I loved being with them; maybe because I thought some of that would splash on me. They loved their work, spent a lifetime doing it, and I don’t think Lucille Ball was happier than when she was rehearsing."

New York Post reported that alongside star Molly Ringwald, Cook made a memorable performance as Grandma Helen in the popular rom-com 'Sixteen Candles'. In addition to Broadway, her impressive career also includes roles in 'The Incredible Mr. Limpet,' 'American Gigolo,'Magnum, P.I.,' 'Dynasty,' and 'Grey's Anatomy.' She performed in the first stagings of 'Romantic Comedy' and '42nd Street,' a Tony Award-winning musical in which she played Maggie Jones. She was also cast as Ouiser in 'Steel Magnolias,' which led to a nomination for a Helen Hayes Award. 

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'Joked about Donald Trump's assassination'

In addition to her work in theater and film, Cook was also known for her sense of humor. The late actress once joked about Donald Trump's assassination. She told an interviewer from TMZ, "Where is John Wilkes Booth when you need him?" Where is John Wilkes Booth when you need him, right?" As per the New York Post, when she allegedly asked the Secret Service when she was being looked into for the remark, she responded with a wry comment in an interview with Craig Bennett saying simply that she wouldn't look well in prison attire. "They couldn’t have been nicer," she said of the agents who inquired her. "I said, 'I can’t go to prison, the stripes are horizontal, they don’t look good on me.'"

'I never felt afraid of AIDS'

She reportedly gave her wealth—which came along with fame—to causes close to her heart. She was actively involved in the support of the HIV/AIDS issue and even co-founded S.T.A.G.E., a series of fundraisers that generated money for HIV/AIDS patients. "People I loved had been struck,” she stated in an interview about the disease. "Some of the people I loved the most had it and that is what I wanted to do … I never felt afraid of AIDS. We would go to the hospital to visit our friends wearing heavy gowns and masks, but we knew it was to protect them from us and vice versa."

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'I have the memories'

Cook had her eyes set firmly on the future and any opportunities she may have to rekindle her relationship with the fans who have supported her ever since she first took the stage. Speaking about the pandemic shutdown, in an interview last year Cook said, "It was a terrible loss for everyone. I had wonderful things happen in my career right before the pandemic and, like the grand old lady of the theatre, I can say I have the memories."

Cook leaves behind her husband, sister Regina Cocanougher, stepson Christopher Troupe, and Becky, his wife.

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