Actress Barbara Perry, who danced on Broadway before originating the role of Buddy Sorrell’s wife Pickles on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” died Sunday in Los Angeles.
She was 97.
Her daughter said the tap dancing sensation who also had memorable roles on “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Bewitched,” “How I Met Your Mother” and most recently “Baskets,” was positive and smiling until the end.
“She just loved people, and she loved life. It was like love overload with her,” daughter Laurel Lee told the Daily News on Monday.
“She had no intention of leaving. She was strong as a little ox. She amazed the doctors. She was on death’s door but her vital signs were normal,” the daughter said. “She danced every single day from the time she was around 5 years old. She was even dancing on her deathbed. We had music on and she was lying there with tubes everywhere giggling and winking at us. She was just adorable.”
Perry was born in Norfolk, Va., in 1921 but spent most of her first decade in New York with a mother who sang soprano in the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera.
“She got her start in the baby ballet at The Met. Her mom was working there and needed babysitting during rehearsal. She studied everything — ballet, tap, Spanish dance. She loved classical tap dance,” Lee said.
Perry made her stage debut as a child, playing Trouble in a Met production of “Madame Butterfly.”
She went on to play Eddie Foy Jr.’s dance partner in “Rumple” in 1957 after she appeared in the Broadway productions of “Swan Song” in 1946 and “Happy as Larry” in 1950.
After settling in California, she worked for decades on the small screen and married the famed Disney animator Art Babbitt.
Perry appeared on “The Donna Reed Show,” “The Hathaways,” “St. Elsewhere,” “Newhart,” and “Murphy Brown.”
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Her film credits include “Father of the Bride,” “Trancers,” and “The Back-Up Plan.”
In her most recent role on Zach Galifinakis’ FX show “Baskets,” she played a gift shop employee in 2017.
“It was her final job. It was just the most charming show. The performances were so touching,” Lee said.
“My mother was a history book. She was a part of so many pieces of history,” the daughter said. “She was always very curious and always wanted to learn and read. She came from a background where women weren’t supposed to go to school, but in the 1970s, she put herself through Los Angeles community college and get her associates degree. She was so proud to vote for a woman for president. She always stretched to be a current person.”