Peggy Pope, a veteran character actress known for playing “old lush” secretary Margaret (“Atta girl!”) in 9 to 5, died May 27 in Fort Collins, Colo. She was 91. A cause of death has not been disclosed.
Born Florence Pope in Montclair, NJ in 1929, Pope began her acting career on stage, making her Broadway debut in the play Moonbirds in 1959 and later appearing alongside Jimmy Stewart in a revival of Harvey in 1970. Pope also had a prolific career in film and TV, appearing on such shows as Mork & Mindy, Bewitched, The Golden Girls, and Law & Order. One of her best-known roles was on the 1970s sitcom Soap as Mrs. David, the mother of the woman with whom Billy Crystal‘s Jodie Dallas fathers a child.
Pope became known for her 9 to 5 role as an alcoholic secretary, encouraging Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda‘s characters with the catchphrase “Atta girl,” which later became the title of Pope’s 2011 autobiography.
“I went to the interview with a kind of exhausted indifference. It was just another couple of lines to me,” Pope recalls in the book. “It was a good movie and a good part. At the end, my character comes back from rehab, hair combed, looking spiffy and ready for the sequel. Underdogs climbing to the top is a fine formula, and it’s always good to be in at the end of a film so people remember you were in it.”