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July 27th, 2006

Fritzi Burr

Today I’d like to pay tribute to Fritzi Burr. Burr was born in 1924 in Philadelphia, PA. To those that appreciate such things, she was a singer and actress on Broadway. To me, though, it’ll be her work on the small screen that I remember her for most.

Burr is best known as–well, to me, at least–Miss Collins, the stern-but-caring teacher on What’s Happening!! that put up with the antics of Roger, Rerun, and Dwayne. Interestingly, though, Collins appeared on one other black 70s sitcom: Sanford and Son. Here, she played a number of characters, according to the IMDB: an unnamed actress, Miss Cogley, Mrs. Bradley, an unnamed nurse, Helga, an unnamed “woman on the plane,” and Miss Rock. I can’t say I remember many other instances where one person played eight different characters on the same show.

As I did a little more digging, I gained even more respect for Ms. Burr. She played Esther Weinstock in The Golden Girls episode titled “Sophia’s Wedding: Part 1” and Mrs. Waldman on an episode of The Facts of Life. More recently, she played two different characters on Friends (Mrs. Tedlock in 1995 and Mrs. Weinberg in 1996) and “Maj-Jongg Lady #1” in “The Handicap Spot” episode of Seinfeld.

Fritzi Burr died in 2003. While she never had a leading lady role in any television series, her impact was felt from her stand-out appearances on What’s Happening!! and Sanford and Son. Kudos, Ms. Burr.

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

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