Rebecca Balding, ‘Charmed’ Actress, Dead at 73

by Alex Falls

Rebecca Balding, the veteran actress of stage and screen best known for her roles in TV shows like Soap and the original Charmed, died on Wednesday. She was 73 years old.

She passed away following a battle with ovarian cancer. Her husband, actor-director James L. Conway confirmed the news to Deadline.

Balding was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. She got her start by studying acting at the University of Kansas before going on to star in dozens of television series. Most famously, she starred opposite Billy Crystal in Soap.

Balding had a key arc over the first two seasons of ABC’s controversial daytime-drama spoof in 1977-79. She played conniving attorney Carol David, who meets Jodie (Bily Crystal, in his breakout role) and quickly seduces him. Their one-night stand leads to her pregnancy. She later persuades Jodie to move in together – before admitting that she is carrying his child.

He then proposes in order to fulfill his paternal responsibility and she accepts – only to not show up for their wedding. Carol later gave birth to a daughter and would fight Jodie for custody, which he ultimately won. Carol subsequently kidnapped the child, but Jodie got her back, and Balding’s character went away.

Balding’s Long Career

Balding also played Corky Crandall in the late ’70s sitcom Makin’ It. She was also the original female reporter, Carla Mardigian, opposite Ed Asner in Lou Grant. She appeared in the first three episodes of the sitcom before the character was written out for a different female reporter. She appeared that same year with Asner, portraying his daughter Julie in the classic Christmas TV film, The Gathering, as well as the movie’s sequel.

In 1977, Balding joined Andy Griffith and James Cromwell as Amy Franklin in the TV movie Deadly Game. Her other credits include many classic TV shows such as Melrose Place, Beverly Hills 90210, Home Improvement, MacGyver, Family Ties, Hotel, Matt Houston Cagney & Lacey, Starsky and Hutch and The Bionic Woman.

Modern audiences will recognize her from Charmed where she starred as Phoebe’s (Alyssa Milano) boss, Elise Rothman.

Balding is also credited as one of the early “Scream Queens.” She starred in several horror films such as Silent Scream and The Boogens. Her most recent film role was in 2005’s Yesterday’s Dreams.

She is survived by her husband, James L. Conway, her daughters Sarah and Kathleen, and her grandchildren.

Tributes came pouring in from fans once the news broke. Actress Caroline Williams noted Balding was her cousin and Tweeted her memories of how she influenced her career.

“My cousin, Rebecca Balding, has passed away in Salt Lake City,” she wrote. “While we were not close in adulthood, she was a profound influence on my curiosity about show business and acting. #TheBoogens was where she met her delightful husband @jameslconway. Mother, wife, actress. Did it all.”