Fran Bennett Dead: 'Dynasty,' 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' Actress Died at 84
Fran Bennett, a seasoned actor who spent 36 years teaching voice and acting at CalArts, died over the weekend, according to the school.
She died at the age of 84.
Bennett was a member of the Linklater Voice faculty at CalArts from 1978 until her retirement in 2014, as reported by the Hollywood Reporter.
She was known for her booming voice. From 1996 until 2003, she was also the head of acting and director of performance.
"Fran's voice was unmistakable. She never shied away from using it. And she taught so many throughout the years to find and free their own," Dean Travis Preston of the CalArts School of Theater said in a statement. "Before there were diversity committees and personnel at CalArts, there was Fran. She unceasingly championed students, artists and innovators of all backgrounds and demanded that leaders do more to serve the left out and kept out," he added.
Preston said Fran's "fearlessness" and "ferocity" made a mark on him. Her work has became a legacy now that she has passed away.
The emotional tribute continued, "Her King Lear launched the CalArts Center for New Performance. As her director, I was utterly blown away by her fearlessness and ferocity, and it has emboldened me and my work ever since."
The statement concluded with "Her legacy will live on in the hearts and minds and voices of the countless people she impacted. I will never forget her, and miss her terribly. May we all follow her example - and speak with honesty, grace, strength, and freedom."
Cause of death is not revealed.
Bennett was born in Malvern, Arkansas, on August 14, 1937, and received her bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Wisconsin.
She studied voice at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis with Scottish actor Kristin Linklater and movement in London with Austrian actress Litz Pisk, then returned to the Guthrie for 12 years as its voice and movement director. Bennett made her television debut in 1965 on the CBS serial opera "Guiding Light," and has since been on various television shows.
Included in her television work portfolio are "Roots: The Next Generations," "Lou Grant," "St. Elsewhere," "Cagney & Lacey," and "Dynasty."
She was also in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Quantum Leap," "In the Heat of the Night," "Becker," "Community," as well as "Scandal."
In 2019, she portrayed Mother Jefferson on "The Jeffersons segment" of "Live in Front of a Studio Audience."
In terms of movies, she was in the films Promises in the Dark (1979), Wes Craven's Newest Nightmare (1994), Foxfire (1996), Leave It to Beaver (1997), 8MM (1999), The Next Best Thing (2000), Jessabelle (2014), and the forthcoming The Manor.
Bennett was a member of the Antaeus classical theater group, a founding member of the Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company, and a recipient of the Ovation Award and the NAACP Theatre Award.