ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Abilene native turned legendary comedian, Carole Cook, passed away Wednesday, just days shy of her 99th birthday. The star of stage and screen rose in the ranks in 1950’s Hollywood under the expert tutelage of Lucille Ball.

Born in Abilene as Mildred Cook on January 14, 1924, Cook lived an incredible and full life. She passed away Wednesday, January 11 in Beverly Hills, California. Her obituary sites heart failure as her cause of death.

An incredible life lived alongside Lucille Ball

bhbpr.com: Lucille Ball with Carole Cook

Cook was a graduate of Baylor University, studying under renowned Paul Baker. Swept away by her natural comedic talent, she got her start in Hollywood when Lucille Ball asked her to appear on The Desilu Review (1959). Ball suggested a name change to honor her friend, late movie star, Carole Lombard.

Per Cook’s obituary, Ball told her, “Like her, you have the same healthy disrespect for all things in general.”

As Cook’s mentor, Ball would often cast her in guest roles in her many projects. She would frequently appear on The Lucy Show (1962-1968) and Here’s Lucy (1968-1974). The red-haired duo would reportedly remain lifelong friends. Ball was even Cook’s matron-of-honor in her wedding to Tom Troupe in 1964.

What a résumé

  • Created the role of “Maggie Jones” in 42nd Street
  • Originated the role of “Blanche Daly” in Romantic Comedy
  • Guest starred in New York City Center’s 70 Girls 70
  • Played “Quiser” in the National tour of Steel Magnolias
  • Toured in the National Company and starred in the Australian production of Father’s Day

Other musicals Cook starred in includes:

  • Call Me Madam
  • Pal Joey
  • The Threepenny Opera
  • The Boys from Syracuse
  • Kismet
  • Dear World
  • The Most Happy Fella
  • A Little Night Music
  • Follies
  • Annie, Get Your Gun

Actually the second actress in the world, Cook took on the lead role in Hello Dolly. She was “Dolly” for two years in Australia and New Zealand.

Cook would also receive the distinction of being the only actress to play title roles in major productions of Auntie Mame and Mame.

That’s it for the stage. On screen, Cook was bigger than life. Feature films Cook appeared on include:

  • Palm Springs Weekend (1963)
  • The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964)
  • The Gauntlet (1977)
  • American Gigolo (1980)
  • Summer Lovers (1982)
  • Sixteen Candles (1984)
  • Grandview, U.S.A (1984)
  • Home on the Range (2004)
  • A Very Sordid Wedding (2017)

Cook would take on some guest star roles in many, many television series. Her most recent feature was a 2006 episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

Award season was no stranger to Cook

Cook would go on to create the role of “Maggie Jones” in the Tony Award winning musical, 42nd Street – which she portrayed in New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo.

For her part in Steel Magnolias, Cook would receive a Helen Hayes Theatre Award nomination. For Father’s Day, she won a Los Angeles Drama Critic’s Circle Award. Cook also won Best Actress Awards in The Supporting Cast and Patio/Porch.

As “Queen Eleanor” in The Lion in Winter, her husband, Tom Troupe, co-starred with Cook in its Los Angeles and Dallas productions. The husband-and-wife duo would work together again in The Gin Game.

In 1995, Baylor would bestow Cook with its Distinguished Alumni Award.

Come 2002, Carole and Tom won the prestigious Theatre Ovation Award for Career Achievement – the first husband and wife to ever be so honored.

In 2018, Cook appeared in a sold-out one woman show at 54 Below in New York City.

She would then be honored in 2019 with her own plaque on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars.

Cook’s obituary includes:
Carole had been a long-time featured performer in the annual Los Angeles S.T.A.G.E. benefit, and San Francisco’s Richmond/ Ermet Aid Foundation’s ‘Help is on the Way,’ for which she received the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Most recently, Cook received the Texas Cultural Trust 2023 Texas Medal of the Arts award for Lifetime Achievement in Theater.

For 35+ years, Cook proudly and faithfully lent her voice and talent to the fight against HIV and Aids.

Rest well, Carole

Legendary Carole Cook is survived by husband Tom Troupe, stepson Christopher Troup and his wife Becky, sister Regina Cocanougher, and many beloved nieces and nephews.

While service arrangements have not yet been announced, Cook’s family has requested donations be made in her honor to The Entertainment Community Fund.

It is with great sorrow that BigCountryHomepage.com writes of Cook’s passing. Her legacy has long been admired across Abilene and the Big Country. Our sincerest condolences go out to Tom Troupe and Cook’s loved ones.