A look back at the career of Joan Hotchkis, playwright for Legacy, Dr. Nancy Cunningham on The Odd Couple
Joan Hotchkis had no shortage of accomplishments during her 50-plus year career. The actress, writer and performance artist, who died on Sept. 27, 2022 according to People, was best known for her role as Dr. Nancy Cunningham on The Odd Couple and writing and starring in the play and film Legacy.
After starting her professional life as a nursery school teacher in New York, she changed directions and set her sights on acting. She got her start back in her hometown of Los Angeles while on vacation in 1954, landing the lead role of Lizzie in The Rainmaker, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
From there, Hotchkis returned to New York and appeared as Myra on the soap opera The Secret Storm in 1958. That was the same year she married director Bob Foster.
According to People, Hotchkis made her Broadway debut with Advise in 1960, which would prove to be a turning point not only for her career, but for her development as an all-encompassing entertainer.
During the early-Sixties, Hotchkis could be seen in the "Soft Focus" episode of the sci-fi series 'Way Out and TV movies Inside Danny Baker and Abe Lincoln in Illinois in 1963 and 1964.
Hotchkis and Foster divorced in 1967, leading her back to Los Angeles. She landed a lead role in the one season sitcom My World and Welcome To It. After that, she was in episodes of The Immortal and The Interns before securing her recurring and fan-favorite role as Dr. Nancy Cunningham on The Odd Couple in 1971.
Hotchkis wrote and starred in her own play, Legacy, about "a day when an upper-class housewife suffers a mental and emotional breakdown," according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The following year, she starred in a film version of the play. She also played Anna Hartley in Ode to Billy Joe in 1976.
Before and after Legacy, Hotchkis guest-starred in several television series including Mannix, Charlie's Angels, The New Dick Van Dyke Show and Barnaby Jones.
Following the removal of a non-cancerous brain turmor after the premiere of Legacy, Hotchkis' heart called her back to the stage, appearing in several plays in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Nashville and Cincinnati. Arguably her best remembered performance in this stretch of her career was her several appearances as Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie during the 1980s.
From the stage to television and several film appearances, Joan Hotchkis impressed fans in more ways than one since the mid-1950s.