Marcia Strassman, best known for her role as Julie Kotter on the TV sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter” and Diane Szalinski in the 1989 feature film “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” and its sequel Honey, I Blew Up the Kid,” died on October 25, 2014 after a long battle with breast cancer. News of her passing first came to light from tweets by her friends, director Bob Weide and singer/actress Cher. Her passing has since been confirmed by her sister. Strassman was 66 years old and had been suffering from cancer since 2007.
Strassman was born in New York City and entered show business in the 1960s. Landing a few small roles on sitcoms like “The Patty Duke Show,” Strassman also tried her hand at singing. While she enjoyed some regional success with her songs “The Flower Children” and “The Groovy World of Jack and Jill,” neither garnered any national attention. When the Kim Fowley produced 1968 single “Star Gazer” achieved even less interest, Strassman left show business, not to return until the early 1970s.
Upon her return, Strassman was cast in the recurring role of nurse Margie Cutler on the TV show M*A*S*H, appearing in six episodes. She soon was cast as Julie Kotter, wife of Gabe Kotter (Gabe Kaplan) on the ABC sitcom “Welcome Back Kotter” which also starred John Travolta. During its four-year run, Strassman and Kaplan frequently clashed behind the scenes, but exhibited a palpable chemistry on screen. The episodes would frequently end with Kotter telling Julie a joke, usually a corny one, that would get a good laugh from the studio audience while Julie often rolled her eyes.
Strassman remained active on several television shows during the 80s and 90s, but her most noted work was in the “Honey/Kids” films, as well as the 3-D “Honey I Shrunk The Audience,” a perennial at Disney theme parks. These were very popular family entertainments, and her contribution was notable. Her final appearance was in “Looking for Mr. Right,” a 2014 TV movie featuring Viveca A. Fox.
Marcia Strassman felt a growth in her breast in 2007 and quickly went to her doctor. Despite being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, she continued to remain as active as possible. Strassman told Coping magazine in 2009: “I am very lucky in that while I am not a huge celebrity, I have enough recognition that I can be heard. I am not out here to tell anybody how to feel or how to talk to their families. I am not a doctor. But the message that I want to get out is (a)talk to your doctor; be able to have an open dialogue with your doctor, and (b) take your medicine, and take it on time.”
During her bout with cancer, Strassman remained positive and worked hard to combat the disease as well as inform others. She remained an inspiration and a role model for all those suffering from cancer. In lieu of flowers, Strassman’s sister Julie suggested donations in Marcia’s name to organizations fighting cancer.