To music lovers, Marcia Strassman may be best known as the teen pop artist who recorded the 1967 single "The Flower Children." To fans of the small screen, she's likely remembered as Julie Kotter, the even-tempered wife of Gabe Kaplan on "Welcome Back, Kotter" (ABC 1975-79). And to cineastes the world over, she holds a special place as harried mother Diane Szalinski in the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids movies. Marcia Strassman was born on April 28, 1948, in New York City, and raised in Passaic, New Jersey. She found her way onto the stage by age 15, joining the Off Broadway production of "Best Foot Forward" in 1963, and onto television just one year later. Strassman kicked off her small screen career with a recurring role on "The Patty Duke Show" (ABC 1963-66), appearing as various characters in three episodes through the first and second seasons of the kooky family sitcom. While it wouldn't be for a number of years that Strassman would find true success in acting, the late '60s did usher of the multi-talented young woman into the music scene. In '67, Strassman pioneered her solo career with the single "The Flower Children," successful on the West Coast but an unremarkable performer nationwide. Her numbers to follow, "The Groovy World of Jack & Jill" and "Stargazer," were likewise unsuccessful, leading Strassman to leave the music industry behind in favor of acting. It didn't take long before Strassman began to earn roles of note. She made her film debut with a small role in "Changes" (1969). In 1972, she enjoyed a six-episode stint through the first season of "M*A*S*H" (CBS 1972-1983), playing Army Nurse Margie Cutler. The character acted both as an partner in crime to the mischievous Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) and Trapper McIntyre (Pernell Roberts), and an occasional object of their affections. Like the men, she served as a foil (and nuisance) for the hardnosed characters Hot Lips Houlihan and Frank Burns. Strassman's short-lived turn on "M*A*SH" gave way to a number of one-off appearances on various sitcoms and TV dramas throughout the early '70s. Her first true hit, however, would come three years after her final episode as Cutler. In 1975, Strassman costarred in the pilot episode of "Welcome Back, Kotter" (ABC 1975-79), playing the wife and impossibly patient sounding board of high school teacher Gabe Kotter, the role occupied by series creator Gabe Kaplan. Her run on "Welcome Back, Kotter" lasted the duration of the series' lifespan despite a good deal of rumored turmoil on set. Contemporaneous publications would detail reports of enmity between Strassman and Kaplan (one that, allegedly, split the "Sweathog" actors by alignments of loyalty). Backstage chaos aside, the sitcom would prove to be Strassman's most successful endeavor for many years following its cancelation in 1979. She did continue to pursue projects, notably the TV movie "Brave New World" (NBC 1980) and the little seen romantic comedy 'Soup for One' (1980), but wouldn't find veritable commercial success again for another decade. In 1984, Strassman married Robert Collector, himself a budding writer/director who'd go on to create films like "Red Heat" (1985) and "Believe in Me" (2005). The two had one child, Elizabeth, and divorced in '89. That same year, Strassman landed what would prove to be a favorite among family audiences: "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" (1989). Strassman starred as the put upon wife of Rick Moranis' zany scientist character, and the mother of the children who Moranis inadvertently shrinks with his latest invention. The box office hit sparked a like-themed sequel three years later: "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid" (1992), in which Strassman and Moranis reprised their roles. Strassman would continue to work throughout the 1990s and 2000s, though would never quite land another high-profile part, relegated instead to one-off guest appearances and occasional recurring roles on television shows. In 2007, Strassman was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, a disease that ultimately took her life on October 24, 2014.
Cast (Feature Film)
Made stage debut at 15 in an off-Broadway revival of "Best Foot Forward" (date approximate)
Feature film debut in "Changes"
Was a semi-regular on the first season of the long-running CBS comedy-drama "M*A*S*H", playing nurse Maggie Cutler
Portrayed Mrs. Kotter on the ABC sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter"
Played Carol Younger on the short-lived NBC sitcom "Good Time Harry"
Returned to feature films to act in "Soup for One"
Signed on to play opposite Elliott Gould on the CBS sitcom "E.R."; After several episodes she was replaced in the role of Dr. Eve Sheridan by Mary McDonnell
Co-hosted (with Wil Shriner) the "Miss Teen USA Pageant"
Co-starred in the blockbuster family comedy "Honey I Shrunk the Kids."