Dixie Virginia Carter was born and raised in McLemoresville, Tennessee. Upon her graduation from Southwestern University in Memphis, Miss Carter made her New York debut as Perdita in A Winter's Tale with the New York Shakespeare Festival. Other theatrical credits include Kiss Me Kate, Carousel, Oklahoma!, Brigadoon, A Little Night Music, Mame, Pal Joey, The Student Prince, The New Moon, Babes in Arms, John Ford Noonan's two-character play A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking, and The King and I at the FrontStreet Theater in New York. She created the roles of Dixie Avalon in Taken in Marriage and Liz Conlon in Buried Inside Extra in New York and at the Royal Court Theater in London. She also appeared in productions with Music Theater of Lincoln Center and in revues at Upstairs at the Downstairs. In 1993, she performed the role of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire in Memphis.
Dixie's performance as Calamity Jane in Fathers and Sons won her a Drama Desk nomination. She won a Theatre World Award for her portrayal of Belle Starr in Jesse and the Bandit Queen, co-starred on Broadway in the 1974 musical Sextet, and starred as Melba in the 1976 Broadway revival of Pal Joey. Dixie also appeared regularly on the TV soap opera The Edge of Night while in New York doing theater.
After moving to California, Miss Carter made numerous guest appearances on television series. She also appeared as a regular on the television series Diff'rent Strokes, On Our Own, Out of the Blue, and Filthy Rich and co-starred in the television movies Ohms, The Killing of Randy Webster, Gone in the Night, and Judith Krantz's Dazzle.
In the years since her popular CBS sitcom ended, the woman best known for her role as feisty Julia Sugarbaker starred on Broadway in Terrence McNally's award-winning Master Class, appeared in two yoga videos, and recorded two music CDs, Come a Little Closerand Dixie Carter Sings John Wallowitch Live at the Cafe Carlyle. Miss Carter's book Trying to Get to Heaven was published by Simon & Schuster in both hardcover and paperback. For several years, she appeared each spring in a cabaret act at the Cafe Carlyle in Manhattan. Between tunes, Carter told heartwarming, hilarious tales about her girlhood in Tennessee and life with her husband and former co-star Hal Holbrook, with whom she enjoyed a passionate love affair.
From 1999-2002 Carter co-starred on the CBS series Family Law, where she played Randi King, an outrageous, cut-throat divorce attorney who suffered her own marital headaches and drew on that angst to jumpstart her career. In addition, she appeared in the recurring role of Peaches on CBS's Ladies Man.
In the 2003 stage review of Paper Doll, Dixie stars as Jacqueline Susann, the flamboyant 1960s icon of the trash novel profession, best known for her 1966 novel, Valley of the Dolls.
In addition to her continued stage presence in productions such as Thoroughly Modern Millie, Lady Windermere's Fan and Arsenic and Old Lace, as well as Be My Baby and Southern Comforts (both with her husband Hal Holbrook), in 2006 Dixie took a dark, comedic turn as Orson Hodge's mother on the hit series Desperate Housewives.
Dixie Carter passed away on April 10, 2010, in Houston, Texas from complications from endometrial cancer which was diagnosed earlier in 2010. In addition to Holbrook, she is survived by her daughters from her first marriage: Ginna Carter and Mary Dixie Carter as well as a sister, Melba Helen Heath and several nephews and nieces. Her funeral, held on April 15, 2010, was attended by Designing Women co-stars Delta Burke, Annie Potts and Jean Smart. Dixie Carter was interred in her hometown, McLemoresville, Tennessee.
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