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Carol Ann Susi, the pestering voice behind Howard Walowitz’s off-camera mother, died back on November 11 of 2014. Some fans of the Big Bang Theory may not give the actress much of a second thought because she was never seen on the show. However, Susi actually had a 40 year long career and certainly deserves some credit.
She was born on February 2, 1952 in Brooklyn, New York and is of Italian descent. That actually explains a lot about Mrs. Walowitz’s own tone of voice. Though the role of Mrs. Walowitz was her best known, Susi had many small parts over the years. Though they were small, these parts were in some of the most iconic shows. To name a few: Grey’s Anatomy, CSI: NY, Ugly Betty, That 70’s Show, The King of Queens, The Drew Carrey Show, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, ER, Married With Children, Murphy Brown, Blossom, Seinfeld, and Cheers. She played a nun on Blossom which links her once again to Mayim Balik who played the title character on Blossom and Amy Farrah Fowler on the Big Bang Theory.
The cast and crew of the show paid tribute to Carol Ann Susi by letting her character die with her and having a heartfelt episode about it. In “The Comic Book Store Regeneration” episode, Howard (Simon Helberg) learns that his mother, Debbie Wolowitz, passed away in her sleep while on vacation in Florida. The cast felt it was better to write a death out for the character instead of just sending the character away with no explanation, like many shows have foolishly done in the past.
Another and even more touching tribute to the late actress is actually in every episode onward. Steve Molaro told the Hollywood Reporter: “We found our prop person and asked to get a little picture of Carol Ann and we put it on the refrigerator [in Leonard and Sheldon’s kitchen] so she’s there in every episode now. It’s so small you wouldn’t even see it, but on the fridge is this tiny little wallet-size picture of Carol Ann that’s been there since the day she passed away.”
The framing of the episode also allowed for some character growth for Sheldon Cooper. Normally, it is pretty hard for Sheldon to express emotion and he would more than likely just tell Howard to “move on.” But in the episode, Sheldon consoles Howard by telling him he has friends to lean on.
Carol Ann Susi died at the age of 62 from cancer. Since than the cast of the Big Bang Theory has spread skin cancer awareness once they learned that a fan had died of the illness at the age of 17. Since this is a double hit for the cast, perhaps they may continue to fight against other forms of cancer. It seems like something that keeps hitting close to home for them.
Certainly their actions for the young fan would make Carol Ann Susi proud as would Mrs. Walowitz would be very proud of her Howard.