Carole Cook, a favorite of famed comedienne Lucille Ball who notched up a stellar resume including numerous turns on Broadway and decades-spanning appearances in popular films, died on Wednesday at the age of 98. Cook’s husband, actor Tom Troupe, 94, said the cause of death was heart failure, according to multiple reports. She would have turned 99 on Saturday.
Fans of 1980s cinema will doubtlessly remember Cook foremost as the handsy “Grandma Helen” in the era class Sixteen Candles, who exclaimed over teenage granddaughter Samantha (played by Molly Ringwald) and grabbed at her budding curves in an infamously inappropriate scene.
Originally from Abilene, Texas, Cook — born Mildred Frances Cook — was brought to Los Angeles on the behest of Ball, who met with her and eventually helped establish her stage name. The fellow actors worked together on The Lucy Show from 1963 to 1968 as well as spinoff Here’s Lucy from 1969 to 1974, and remained close friends through Ball’s death in 1989.
Cook’s standout credits on stage included the role of Maggie Jones in the Tony Award-winning musical 42nd Street, as well as Blanche Dailey in Broadway’s Romantic Comedy.
In film, in addition to Sixteen Candles, she will be well-remembered as Don Knotts’ wife Bessie Limpet in 1964’s The Incredible Mr. Limpet, as well as a host of appearances in titles including American Gigolo, Palm Springs Weekend, The Gauntlet, Grandview, U.S.A., Summer Lovers and A Very Sordid Wedding.
Cook also made her mark in television as well, appearing in the the long-running series Grey’s Anatomy, among others.
The actress, lauded by Ball as having a “healthy disrespect for all things in general,” made news headlines in 2018 when she told TMZ in no uncertain terms about her opinion of then-President Donald Trump.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. Where’s John Wilkes Booth when you need him?” was her comment, when the outlet asked about an incident regarding a Trump banner unfurled at a theater performance in Los Angeles.
In other news – Kate Middleton and Prince William Make First Public Appearance
Kate Middleton and Prince William stepped out on Thursday morning for their first official event of 2023 — and their first outing since the publication of Prince Harry’s groundbreaking memoir, Spare.
Their visit to Liverpool and the surrounding area came two days after the publication of the book, which was also accompanied by a massive publicity push, including in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE in this week’s issue. Learn more