Supporting Characters

The incredibly talented supporting cast of actors and the characters they played are so much a part of what made the series so fun to watch. The following is an alphabetical list with corresponding profiles of the recurring characters who made regular appearances or were most often referred to on the series.

MRS. "DONDI" BOUVIER (Frances E. Williams, Beah Richards)

Anthony's grandmother -- Dondi, as he affectionately calls her -- raised him when his drug addicted mother abandoned him. Kicking him in the butt and keeping him in line, Dondi dumped out a box of crayons and told him that this is what the Civil Rights fighting has been all about, nothing more than the colors in a box of crayons. Mrs. Bouvier currently lives in Nashville, and she comes to Atlanta when Anthony graduates Junior College, and then again to visit after he marries Etienne -- upset because Anthony didn't tell her there was going to be a dress-up formal ceremony.

(Anthony's Graduation; Wedding Redux)

CRAIG COLEMAN (Patrick Warburton)

Mary Jo starts dating Craig in Season Seven because of his incredibly hot body. A catalog model by profession, Craig explains that he stopped being nervous about posing in his underwear when he realized it was just like being in a bathing suit -- and he wasn't embarrassed about being in his bathing suit. The Sugarbaker's team is surprised that Mary Jo would date someone so much less intellectual than herself, and even dimwitted Carlene finds Craig to be dull and void of intelligence. Mary Jo defends her right to date a dumb stud, but eventually has to admit that he's not right for her -- but not before he senses it and dumps her first.

(Too Dumb to Date; Gone With the Whim)

REGGIE MAC DAWSON (Danny Thomason)

Reggie Mac Dawson served as Suzanne Sugarbaker's accountant for six years -- until he absconded with her life savings and ran off to Bimany, that is. But the flighty and wired Reggie Mac came into Suzanne's life long before that -- in 15 years never having missed even one of her beauty pageants. Reggie Mac was an accountant for Suzanne's friends, Trudy Wilhoit and the Dillon twins, so she trusted him implicitly -- although Julia did not, stating that he always seemed just a little too happy. Reggie Mac disappears for a year after absconding with Suzanne's money, but reappears working as a hotel bellman/lounge singer at the Mirimar Hotel in Atlanta. It's pretty clear that he's off-the-beam, but he convinces Suzanne that he has used her money to purchase a circus and make her queen of the big top. Of course it turns out that the deal was cut with a bad check, and Reggie Mac disappears again. Aliases include Bobby Bo Jangles and Ron Reagan Jr. -- so beware.

(The Last Humorously Dressed Bellboy in America)

JACK DENT (Gregg Henry)

Jack Dent was Suzanne's second husband, a one-time second baseman for the Atlanta Braves who ultimately became their star pitcher. Suzanne and Jack shared a volatile and passionate relationship for three years -- based mostly on sex. In fact, the only reason they even stayed together as long as they did was because the sex was so good. Their disagreements would get so out of hand that Jack would often find himself riding face-down on the hood of Suzanne's car to the police station. Jack contacts Suzanne in Season One to get her blessing on his autobiography, but she doesn't bother to read it. Julia, however, does read the transcript and is appalled by the content. According to the book, Jack has slept with every baseball groupie in the United States. Suzanne is horrified, but when she confronts Jack, he admits to having made up the stories in an attempt to make the book more exciting and secure a publishing deal.

(Grand Slam Thank You Ma'am)

NORVELLE & IONE FRAZIER (James Ray, Sandy Kenyon, Barry Corbin) and (Ronnie Claire Edwards)

Charlene's parents, Norvelle "Bud" Frazier and Ione "Dot" Hogg Frazier, hail from Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Ione Hogg grew up with all brothers and dreamed of one day singing at the Grand Ol' Opry, but fell in love and married Bud at the age of 15. Together, they had 13 children and, despite money problems, raised them all to have high moral and Christian values. Charlene is the oldest and was raised with ten siblings -- Robert, Marlene, Harlene, Darlene, Carlene, Frank, Duane, Odell, Virgil, and Billy-Hue. Baby Harold Thomas came along much later, and very little is mentioned about the deceased Pat, who died as an infant. Bud's best friend was Earl Sloan for many years until Earl accused the Frazier's dog, Chuck Berry, of digging up his life savings which he had buried in the backyard in a sock. This caused a lifelong feud between the families -- putting a crimp in Odell's plans to marry his childhood sweetheart, Sissy Sloan. The Frazier clan is very close-knit (most of them have never left Poplar Bluff), and family traditions include sitting in front of the fireplace on Christmas Eve singing Silent Night while Robert plays the guitar.

(Nashville Bound; Odell; Come On and Marry Me, Bill)


Initially a fix-up for New Years Eve, Vanessa publicly embarrasses Anthony when she starts dancing and singing loudly in the hospital (where they are stranded while Charlene is in labor) and offering to have sex with him on Julia's sofa. Feeling sorry for her, Anthony talks Julia into allowing Vanessa to work at Sugarbakers temporarily during inventory. But the more time she spends at the firm, the more she captures Anthony's heart and the attention of his co-workers. Vanessa is not the most brilliant of people -- a kind of ditz with a big heart. She tries so hard to change her "Tina Turner" look and "easy" image for Anthony, even allowing Suzanne to coach her and taking a job at the library. Anthony is soon smitten and finds himself being "reeled-in." Unfortunately she is only around for the latter half of Season Four and then disappears with no explanation.

(The First Day of the Last Decade of the Entire Twentieth Century; Anthony and Vanessa; Tornado Watch; Anthony's Graduation)


When Sugarbakers is hired to decorate Monette's mansion, Charlene gets the shock of her life when she discovers that her best friend from high school has changed her name to Monica and is now the madam of a brothel. Having been best friends and cheerleaders together, Charlene and Monette made a pact to save themselves until marriage -- a naive Charlene not even realizing that Monette was having sex in a car at the drive-in while she sat obliviously up front. After admitting that she is now a madame, Monette then spills stories of their entire group of friends having sex all around Charlene. Her lifestyle comes in handy though when Charlene gets handcuffed to a stripper right before her wedding and Monette has a set of handcuff keys right in her purse!!

(Monette; Come On and Marry Me, Bill; There She Is)

PAYNE McILROY (George Newbern)

Julia's son Payne is her pride and joy, named for her maternal great-grandfather. He seems to like to shock her though -- at one point bringing home a 41 year old girlfriend from college, and a couple years later announcing his quickie engagement to another sweetheart because he believes her to be pregnant. In actuality, Payne is more rational and down to earth than most of his family -- surprisingly less dramatic, but still pure of heart with a strong value system. During the course of the series, Payne graduates from Vanderbilt University, marries his college sweetheart, Sylvie, and starts a career in publishing in New York City. At one point his marital problems and struggles to succeed in New York send him running back to the nest, but eventually he heads back to Sylvie to work things out.

(Julia's Son; I'll Be Home For Christmas; Payne Grows Up; Payne Comes Home)


A gift to Suzanne from her maid, Consuela's, family (who is in the meatpacking business), Noel gets her name because she arrives at Christmas. Not wanting to slaughter her, Suzanne grows genuinely fond of Noel and dresses her in rhinestone collars and regularly takes her to the Dairy Queen in her Mercedes convertable. Noel's favorite dessert is a Buster Bar, though that, like most other things, probably gives her gas. Suzanne actually thinks of Noel as her friend, and she goes out and buys a semi-automatic rifle to protect her when she receives phone calls threatening to barbeque her pig. Suzanne's co-workers find it all very odd and are less than genuinely sympathetic when her pig runs away and is never found.

(I'll Be Home For Christmas; The Incredibly Elite Bona Fide Blue-Blood Beaumont Driving Club; Full Moon)

RANDA OLIVER (Lexi Randall)

Sugarbaker's is forced to deal with the insufferable young Randa when clients -- her parents -- take an extended vacation in Europe and leave them to finish Randa's personal bedroom. When the frustrated nannies hired to take care of Randa all quit, Julia is then forced to try to tame the out-of-control, spoiled little girl, just as Julia is also trying to deal with the unexpected death of her beloved companion Reese. Realizing that all Randa really needs is a firm hand and some loving attention, Julia also gets to see the circle of life as the rambunctious child quickly blossoms.

(Working Mother; The Big Circle; Friends and Husbands; Fore!; The Pride of Sugarbakers)

T. TOMMY REED (M. C. Gainey)

The meanest guy on Anthony's cell block during his unfortunate incarceration, T. Tommy Reed once checked out a book on table manners and actually stabbed an inmate for serving him from the wrong side. But the oddest thing about T. Tommy is his incessant fascination with dancing -- his favorite partner being Anthony. Upon his release from prison, T. Tommy looks up Anthony to be his business partner in a boutique. Anthony doesn't want to be involved, but fears for his life if he refuses. Eventually he turns T. Tommy down. Unfortunately T. Tommy is unable to keep his nose clean and cuts off someone's head -- again. During season six, Anthony returns to the prison to speak to the inmates and ends up trapped with the ladies and T. Tommy Reed during a prison riot --- and forced to dance.

(Getting To Know You; Last Tango in Atlanta)

RUSTY, THE ELECTRICIAN (Michael Goldfinger)

Rusty serves as the contracted electrician for Sugarbaker's and as the "butt" of many jokes by the ladies -- especially Mary Jo. For a while, Mary Jo and Charlene are unable to determine why Rusty wears his pants "below the equator," making it the subject of many discussions and practical jokes. Finding Julia to be a very classy lady, Rusty asks her to be his date for his 40th birthday. Not wanting to hurt his feelings, she agrees to a one-time platonic date, but Rusty ambushes her for a second date, and disaster ensues when Julia asks Mary Jo to double date with them -- her date being a classless plumber friend of Rusty's with body hair poking through every pore of his mesh shirt.

(Anthony and Vanessa; Charlene Buys a House; The Big Desk; The Strange Case of Clarence and Anita; Rusty and Julia, Sittin' in a Tree... ; Julia and Mary Jo Get Stuck Under a Bed)


The feisty daughter of Mary Jo, Claudia is always unknowingly opening up a can of worms for her mother -- once by going with a black boy to a school dance against his father's wishes and once by simply going out with a boy as cute as a TV star which makes Mary Jo worry that she is going to have sex. Just before her eighteenth birthday, Claudia gets picked up in a bar by someone almost her mother's age. Her date has no idea she is so young and immediately turns his attentions to Mary Jo, which causes a temporary rift between mother and daughter. By season six, Claudia has gone away to college.

(The Beauty Contest; The Slumber Party; Old Spouses Never Die; Ted and Tammy; I'll Be Home for Christmas; Getting to Know You; There's Some Black People Coming to Dinner; Full Moon; Come On and Marry Me, Bill; My Daugher, Myself)

QUINTON SHIVELY (Brian Lando, Robert Hy Gorman)

Mary Jo and Ted's youngest, Quint, is quite the handful. Mary Jo is always coming to the office with stories of Quint's shenanigans -- such as breaking into a neighbor's house to play video games, offering fruit roll-ups to get steady girlfriends for his grade school buddies, and dressing as an alligator to scare the girls at his sister Claudia's slumber party. Quint also tends to get materialistic at times, even using a metal detector to search for coins under the bleachers at school. Anthony is forced to have a conversation with Quint when he begins using foul language -- convincing the boy that tough guys say "phooey" instead. Plus Quint gets a little carried away with the idea of shooting a deer when his uncle comes to take him on his first hunting trip.

(The Beauty Contest; The Slumber Party; Old Spouses Never Die; Ted and Tammy; I'll Be Home for Christmas; Getting to Know You; Ted-Bare; Reservations for 12, Plus Ursula; The Pride of Sugarbaker's; Just Say Doe)

TED SHIVELY (Scott Bakula)

Mary Jo's ex-husband, Ted, is quite the womanizer. He obviously takes his job as gynecologist very seriously, leading to an overzealous bedside manner. Thinking that he is losing his hair and youthful looks, Ted has hair plugs put in and starts visiting a tanner parlor. Eventually, Ted's adultery causes Mary Jo to end their marriage. After the divorce, Ted continues to annoy Mary Jo with his materialistic influence over their children, and at one point even proposes marriage to Suzanne after she visits Ted "professionally." Ted finally realizes what he gave up by driving Mary Jo away, but by that point she is happily with J. D., and he is too stubborn to admit it. He is engaged to marry the much younger Tammy at one point, but in later seasons Mary Jo makes reference to a girlfriend.

(Pilot; Old Spouses Never Die; Ted and Tammy; Ted-Bare)

RAY DON SIMPSON (Arlen Dean Snyder)

Ray Don first encounters the ladies when he tries to pick them up in a sushi bar and suffers a major tongue-lashing from Julia, who is horrified soon after when she discovers that he is auditing Sugarbaker's. The following year, Julia later makes a desperate visit to him in his capacity as I.R.S. Supervisor and flirts with him in hopes of helping Suzanne (after her accountant absconds with all her savings and her house is impounded) and tries desperately and admirably to overlook his bad toupee. Ray Don, however, still hears Julia's original berating of him reverberating through his head.

(Pilot; Mary Jo's First Date; The Return of Ray Don)


Clayton is the half brother of Julia and Suzanne. Clayton's mother was a Radio City Music Hall Rockette named Dee Dee with whom Julia's father had a dalliance. She ended up pregnant so Mr. Sugarbaker then divorced Perky and married Dee Dee -- at least long enough for their son Clayton to have a legitimate birth. Shortly after, Mr. Sugarbaker divorced Dee Dee the Rockette, remarried Perky, and Suzanne was born. Clayton was an unusual child who spent a lot of time alone in the basement of the house. The ladies find out years later that he was down there rehearsing his comedy routine. He married and divorced young -- resulting in two daughters, Camilla and Jennifer, whom he rarely sees. Having had three nervous breakdowns, he has spent a lot of time at the "Macadamia Ranch" -- Clayton's euphemism for nut house. Following his release, Clayton finally decides to pursue his dream of being a stand-up comic.

(Oh, Brother)


The often mentioned mother of Suzanne and Julia, Perky, appears for Thanksgiving dinner in traditional dramatic Sugarbaker fashion. She's been married five times -- twice to the girls' father. When the series opens, she is living at Leisure Land along with her best friend, Bernice Clifton. But, feeling stifled in the retirement village, Perky then up and moves to Japan. We know very little about Perky, except that she does like to lie about her age. According to Suzanne's birth certificate (which she had done with no date on it), Perky was only thirteen when Suzanne was born -- making her one year younger than her own daughter Julia.

(Perky's Visit)


After getting dumped by his snooty fiance, Anthony lets the ladies drag him to Las Vegas, where he wakes up after a drunken night of festivities to find himself married to showgirl Etienne Toussant. Marriage to Etienne proves to be a challenge, for the high-strung Etienne decides to be Anthony's wife in full force -- even going as far as deciding on their first day back in Atlanta that she must immediately bear a child for her beloved "Tony". Etienne has rather an intense personality. She makes an effort to learn new words daily, plus she is known to have "visions" -- which are generally just inspirations on how to improve her life. Much of her extreme behavior is hereditary, with her parents going through constant periods of overly dramatized break-ups and tear-jerker reconciliations.

(Viva Las Vegas; Fools Rush In; The Vision Thing; Trial and Error; Wedding Redux; It's Not So Easy Being Green; Gone With the Whim)


Suzanne's live-in maid hails from San Salvador and a huge family in the meat-packing business. At first, Consuela takes over Suzanne's house -- making long distance phone calls, wearing Suzanne's hair pieces, and taking baths in her tub. Suzanne has a hard time controlling her because Consuela is into voodoo and Suzanne fears for her safety. Eventually, the two develop a relationship, and Suzanne is so afraid of Consuela getting deported that she convinces Anthony to pose as her maid long enough to apply for citizenship. When trying to learn how to drive, Consuela drives right through the window of the DMV. Anthony also fears that she has a crush on him when he finds her an apartment in his building during Suzanne's problems with the I. R. S.. Suzanne often makes Consuela wax her legs, and she tries to overlook Consuela's sword-throwing tantrums. Consuela is mentioned constantly but never seen.


Designing Women Online, Designing Women Tribute, Women of the House Magazine
and Belled Online ©1998-Present. All Rights Reserved.

  Julia Sugarbaker
  Charlene Frazier
  Mary Jo Shively
  Suzanne Sugarbaker
  Anthony Bouvier
  Carlene Dobber
  Allison Sugarbaker
  Bonnie Jean Poteet
  Bernice Clifton

  The Gentlemen Callers
  Supporting Characters
  Women of the House