I first met Diana Bellamy in 1991, and remember how her innate charity seeped through the irascible characters she portrayed. (She gave away a lot of money and gifts to fellow actors in need.) I was privileged to direct her award-winning performance in the title role of Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You at Theater Geo, and last year, when she was wheelchair bound, in The Ladies of the Corridor at the Tamarind Theater. Senior Backstage West critic Polly Warfield awarded that performance as a favorite of the 2000 theater season. Bellamy made her final stage appearance at the Ahmanson Theater for the 2000 Ovations Awards, before succumbing to cancer. She was 57.

Though best known for her starring role as head nurse Maggie Poole in the NBC series 13 East, Bellamy was a classically trained theater actor who got started in puppet shows in her native Los Angeles.

Her graduation from Southern Methodist University in 1970 with an MFA was followed by three seasons with Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She also appeared in regional theater productions across the country including The House of Blue Leaves at the Pasadena Playhouse and The Skin of Our Teeth at San Diego‘s Old Globe Theater. During the last five years of her life, Bellamy refused to be sidelined by the impediments of cancer, diabetes and blindness, playing the continuing role of blind Principal Hall on Popular, and appearing with Dick Van Dyke in Diagnosis Murder.

A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, July 7, 11 a.m., at the Court Theater, 722 N. La Cienega Boulevard in West Hollywood. For information, call (310) 275-9887.

LA Weekly