Dallas — Ronnie Claire Edwards was an enigma, she was a contradiction, she was a force of nature, she was highly intelligent, she was a gifted actress and she was a damn good cook. She was a friend!
She had her own distinct view of the world and had no patience with fools. Politically just right of William F. Buckley, she exasperated most of her liberal friends. No matter what she wore you were certain to be in awe. She had a presence, she glittered, she loved Christmas and the level of her excitement over a gift, no matter the value, was contagious. Everyone clamored for her re-gifts. She loved to crochet and the proof lay in the number of her friends who were proud owners of a Christmas sweater, an afghan or a baby blanket.
Her taste in food ranged from the exotic to pot roast, carrots and potatoes and a special treat, a Jack-in-the-Box smoothie. She never touched a vegetable if she could help it and she never turned down a good serving of tiramisu.
Perhaps her most endearing quality was her love for life and her determination to live it to the fullest. Nothing bored her more than to be ill. Her love for the bizarre and grotesque was inexplicable at times. We all were horrified the day she decided she must have a live monkey. She could not be dissuaded! This was not a passing fad. She made many a road trip to secure the perfect specimen. Fortunately, eventually she relented and agreed that her friends might have a point about the suitability of a monkey flying from the rafters of the church she called home.
Her dinner parties were special occasions and included the best of the raconteurs. As the evening lingered on and the guests stood to leave, she’d say,” You’re so stuck up. Sit down.” She never wanted a party to end. And her toy rat terrier Buck always made his grand appearance toward the end of the evening. You never knew who might entertain. It could just as easily be the pianist from the Fort Worth Symphony, a vocalist from the Dallas Opera, or poems on slips of paper handed to unsuspecting guests for recitation. Then again hymnals might be passed out for a great round of gospel singing. Oh, and it was understood that each guest would most certainly dress for the occasion. When she once received an invitation that said under the heading of attire, “Put on the dog,” she dawned a beautiful gown, wrapped Buck around her shoulder and there he stayed through the entire evening’s festivities.
There was something about Ronnie Claire Edwards that brought out the best in all of us. You could disagree with her and many times someone would—but one could always count on her to be very direct. Loving her was sometimes complex but there was a spirit in her that was undeniably one of the most spontaneous ever known. She was bright, intuitive, witty, loyal, and those fortunate enough to meet her found her unforgettable.
We miss her and we probably always will. She has blown out her candle and said goodnight but her radiant glow? That will never fade.
Below is the news release about her death:
Ronnie Claire Edwards took her final call June 14, 2016 after a short illness. She was surrounded by her family and friends with her beloved Toy Fox Terrier, Buck, curled up beside her. Miss Edwards was perhaps best known as the unforgettable Corabeth Godsey on The Waltons which ran for ten years on television. She was also a regular on a number of television series and she had a recurring role on Designing Women, as well as guest appearances on major television series. Her film credits include All the Way Home, Nobody's Fool, The 34th Star, Perfect, The Dead Pool, When Every Day Was the Fourth of July, UFO Cafe, and 8 Seconds.
An Oklahoma native, Miss Edwards began her career at the age of twelve directing playmates in neighborhood productions on the side porch of her family home. She went on to graduate from the University of Oklahoma’s Fine Arts Department where she was awarded the Buffalo Mask for outstanding Graduate in the Drama School. Following graduation she began her professional career at Dallas' Margo Jones Theatre, where she earned her Actor's Equity Association card and won a Protégée Award. She distinguished herself on stage in appearances at the Cleveland Playhouse, Washington, D.C.'s Arena Stage, San Diego Old Globe, Pasadena Playhouse, Actor's Theatre of Louisville, Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park, Los Angeles Theater Center, Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum, Williamstown Theater, and the Berkshire Summer Festival. She was the recipient of three Los Angeles Dramalogue Awards for excellence in acting. She is also co-author of the musical Cowboy based on the life of Western painter, Charles Russell; Idols of the King, based on the life of Elvis Presley, and The Last of the Honky Tonk Angels, and is author of a cookbook, Sugar and Grease (paint).
Locally, Ronnie Claire Edwards worked with One Thirty Productions developing two of her last scripts. She worked with co-author Alan Bailey on Wedding Belles and The Mystery of Miz Arnette, both produced by One Thirty Productions and published by Samuel French, Inc. Wedding Belles was nominated for the best new play produced outside New York City, by the American Critics Theatre Forum Award for 2008. Metroplex residents will recall her stellar performances at Dallas' Theatre Three’s The Miracle Worker, Sister Mary Ignacious Tells it All, and Patio /Porch with Texas native Carole Cook (she starred in the latter play on Broadway opposite Fannie Flagg in 1978). In the 90’s she appeared at Theatre Three in The Knife Throwers Assistant which she wrote and for which she won the Fringe Best Award at the Edinburgh Festival (Scotland). She also authored and performed in the one-woman show The True Story of the Incarnation of Little Egypt which premiered at Theatre Three’s basement space, Theatre Too. Her book Mr. Godsey Asked Me to Marry Him and I Said Yes (exit sobbing) told of her adventures on The Walton’s television series.
In trying to summarize the talents of Ronnie Claire Edwards, perhaps Earl Hamner said it best:
There are personalities so imbued with the magic of the theatre that they become ‘theatre’ themselves. The most ordinary event shared with them becomes extraordinary. Such people are risky to be around. They dare us to leave our mundane worlds and rise to the zestful heights of their own. An exacting imaginative use of language comes into play. Insights are revealed. It was true of Tallulah Bankhead, Noel Coward, Bette Davis, Lawrence Olivier and a few other stars. It is true today of certain rare individuals such as Ronnie Claire Edwards.
A celebration of her life and career will be held at Theatre Three in Dallas at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 28. Reception to follow.