DALLAS — Ronnie Claire Edwards, who played grocer Ike Godsey’s prickly wife Corabeth on the hit TV series “The Waltons,” has died. She was 83.
Edwards died Tuesday in her sleep at her Dallas home, according to her longtime friend and business partner Marty Van Kleeck, who was at her side. The cause of death was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Van Kleeck said Thursday.
“Corabeth was a character, and Ronnie Claire was an even bigger character,” said Mary McDonough, who starred as Erin Walton on the 1972-81 family drama. “She was larger than life and so whip-smart and funny.”
Edwards had a long TV and filmcareer but was best known for playing Corabeth Walton Godsey, thedomineering wife of storekeeper Ike Godsey,in the CBS series about aVirginia mountain family living through the 1930s financial depression and World War II.
The seriesran for nine years in the 1970s. Edwards began appearing in it in 1974, initially as high-strung Corabeth Walton, a cousin of John Walton Sr. (Ralph Waite). She married Ike (Joe Conley) and proved a formidable and snooty force.
Ray Castro, longtime producer of “Waltons” events and reunions, said Edwards relished her role on the series created and narrated by writer Earl Hamner and set in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains in the 1930s and ’40s.
“When fans around the world come up to you and say, ‘I love to hate you,’ you know that the actor has done her job,” Castro recalled her telling a 40th anniversary gathering.
Edwards, born and raisedin Oklahoma City, got her start in show biz when she left home at 15 to travel with a carnival around Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society.
She also had guest roles in shows including “Dallas,” ”Falcon Crest” and “Designing Women,” appeared in films including “The Dead Pool” and “Nobody’s Fool” and also regularly performed on stage.
She also wrote plays, including “Wedding Belles” and “The Mystery of Miz Arnette” (both with Alan Bailey), and books including a 2000 memoir, “The Knife Thrower’s Assistant: Memoirs of a Human Target.”
Van Kleeck said Edwards’ personal life had a consistent theatrical flair, including her choice of home in Dallas — a former Catholic church.
“She was incredibly creative and imaginative,” Van Kleeck said. “She was one of a kind, the kind of person you hope you meet in your lifetime and rarely get the opportunity to.”
Edwards, who was divorced, is survived by family members including a brother and sister, Van Kleeck said.