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Ann Wedgeworth, known for 'Three's Company' role, dies at 83

NEW YORK — Ann Wedgeworth, who gained fame on film and Broadway before taking on the role of a flirty divorcee on television's Three's Company, has died at age 83.

Wedgeworth died Thursday in the New York area after a long illness, her daughter Dianna Martin said.

Wedgeworth landed her first Broadway role in the 1958 comedy Make a Million and continued to take on stage roles for decades. She won the 1978 Tony award for best featured actress in a play for her performance in Neil Simon's Chapter Two.

She acted in several soap operas and also found success in Hollywood with roles alongside Gene Hackman in the 1973 film Scarecrow and Robert De Niro in Bang the Drum Slowly the same year.

But she's perhaps best known for her brief tenure on the TV sitcom Three's Company, where she played Lana Shields, an older woman with her eyes set on her young neighbor Jack, played by John Ritter.

She appeared on only nine episodes of the show before her character was written out, which she said took her by surprise. In a 1980 interview with People, Wedgeworth said she "had no warning or explanation. Suddenly everyone was very cold to me."

Wedgeworth continued to tally TV and film credits for decades, including a starring role on the CBS series Evening Shade with Burt Reynolds from 1990 to 1994.

She was born in Abilene, Texas, in 1934. Her father was the superintendent of a local school and her mother died when Ann was 2 years old.

Wedgeworth is survived by her husband, Ernest Martin, her two daughters, and stepsons Michael Martin and Greg Martin.

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