Society

Emmy-Nominated Actress Elena Verdugo Dies At 92

| by Michael Doherty

Actress Elena Verdugo, known for her portrayal of Consuelo Lopez on "Marcus Welby, M.D." in the 1970s, has died at 92.

A representative for Verdugo's close friend, actress Sharon Gless, said Verdugo died on May 29 in Los Angeles, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The two became close when Gless appeared in a recurring role on "Marcus Welby, M.D." as hospital worker Kathleen Faverty.

"My dearest friend ... died this morning," wrote Gless on Twitter, Deadline reports. "Wonderful actress. Funniest woman I ever knew. The world is a less interesting place."

"She was mischief till the end," Gless added on Facebook. "It is not just the end of an era. It is the end of an epoch."

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Verdugo, a Los Angeles native born in 1925, had a long career in film and television, starting in her childhood, according to Legacy.com. She starred in "The Big Sombrero" with Gene Autrey, and supported comedians Abbott and Costello in "Little Giant." She also starred in the film "Panama Sal" in 1957.

She also appeared in 1940s horror films "House of Frankenstein" and "The Frozen Ghost," as well as 1952's "Thief of Damascus."

Verdugo appeared in a recurring role in "The New Phil Silvers Show" and starred in CBS sitcom "Many Happy Returns" in 1964.

She was nominated for Emmy awards for supporting actress in 1971 and 1972 for her portrayal of nurse Consuelo Lopez on "Marcus Welby, M.D.," where she played opposite Robert Young.

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Many consider the role to be one of the first representations of a working Latina woman on television. In Verdugo's early appearances, she would get coffee for Young's character, Dr. Welby, but that later changed when women wrote in to the show to complain about the representation.

"[They said,] 'You stop getting him coffee in the morning, we are sick of it, now all doctors want us to get a cup of coffee for them in the morning,'" said Verdugo about the complaints. "And I said, 'I got it, I got it! I will cut it down.'"

Verdugo was hesitant to take the role at first, thinking that the network was looking for a stereotypical Latina character.

"They were looking for a Mexican girl," she recalled. "And I said, 'Forget it! I'm not playing maids and housekeepers.' You know that was all they were showing."

After the show finished its seven-season run, Verdugo only acted in occasional roles. Her final acting credit was in 1985's "Suburban Beat."

Verdugo married two times and had a son, Richard Marion, who had a career in acting. Marion died of a reported heart attack at age 50 in 1999.

Sources: The Hollywood Reporter, Legacy.com, Deadline / Photo credit: John Engstead via Wikimedia Commons

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