Carol Arthur had audiences rocking with laughter as the “over-the-top, outspoken schoolmarm” in Hollywood classic Blazing Saddles, and went on to carve out a career in comedy.
The actress, who was cast by Blazing Saddles director Mel Brooks in a number of other pictures, has died aged 85 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s.
Brooks led tributes, saying: “Sad to hear of Carol Arthur’s passing. She was so great in Blazing Saddles as Harriett Johnson the over-the-top, outspoken schoolmarm. She will be missed.”
Her family told the Hollywood Reporter she died on Sunday at the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s Mary Pickford House in Woodland Hills, California.
She is remembered for her role as Harriett Van Johnson, a Rock Ridge school headteacher in the 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles, which was produced by Mel Brooks.
She also appeared in Silent Movie, Robin Hood: Men In Tights and Dracula: Dead and Loving It from the legendary director.
The actress was born on August 4, 1935 in Hackensack, New Jersey.
She later attended the Feagin School of Dramatic Radio and Arts and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. She was also the understudy for Dody Goodman and Imogene Coca in national tours of Once Upon a Mattress.
In 1964 she made her Broadway debut in the musical comedy High Spirits. She also famously played Mrs Paroo opposite Dick Van Dyke in the 1980 production of The Music Man.
In 1965 she married comedian Dom DeLuise and they were together until he died of kidney failure aged 75 in May 2009.
Her son David DeLuise was among those to pay tribute to the star on social media.
On an Instagram post, he said: “Thank you for being the best mom in the world. You are free now. I will miss you and love you forever.
“Give Dad a big hug and a kiss from me. Thank you for your wisdom and unconditional love. And thank you for giving your gift. We were all so lucky and blessed to have you. I Love you”
She is survived by her sons Peter, David and Michael as well as her three grandchildren and brother George.