February 20, 1936 - January 28, 2020

Marj Dusay, actress and grande dame of life, died peacefully of natural causes on January 28 at her home in Manhattan. She was 83.

Ms. Dusay, known for her sharp wit, sophistication, AND BEAUTY, had a long career in the public eye that began with modeling work in her native Kansas. Eventually her innate elegance and high, wide cheekbones propelled her into the pages and onto the covers of magazines in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, where she moved upon discovering her love of performance. While continuing her print work she strove to find her creative voice, first becoming a founding member of Rob Reiner's groundbreaking improv comedy troupe, The Session, among whose improvisers was fledgling actor Richard Dreyfuss.

Her first break on screen was in the Elvis Presley movie “Clambake,” where, at the wrap party, she surprised Elvis by shoving a piece of cake in his face. It wasn't long before she began working non-stop in film and on television. She played Betty Tobin in Clint Eastwood's “Breezy” and Gregory Peck's wife in “MacArthur.” Among all the top episodics of the day on which she guest-starred were “Bonanza,” “The Wild, Wild West,” “Get Smart,” “Hogan's Heroes,” “The Mod Squad,” and “Star Trek,” where her episode, “Spock's Brain,” in which she played the queen of a planet of women, became a Trekkie favorite. Other series work included “Mannix,” “The FBI,” “Barnaby Jones,” “Bret Maverick,” and the memorable “Odd Couple” episode “What Does a Naked Lady Say to You?” in which she played said naked lady. She recurred for six seasons on “The Facts of Life” as Blair's mother, Monica Warner, which garnered her two Emmy nominations. It was during her last two years on the show that she simultaneously began working in daytime television, replacing the ailing Carolyn Jones as Myrna Clegg on the soap opera “Capitol.” That part provided a template for 25 years of future roles as glamorous, ambitious, and sometimes treacherous divas on several long-running soaps: Pamela Capwell Conrad on “Santa Barbara,” Vanessa Bennett on “All My Children,” and Alexandra Spaulding on “Guiding Light.”

Marj Dusay was born Marjorie Ellen Mahoney on February 20, 1936, in Hays, Kansas, and was raised in Russell, Kansas. An accomplished horsewoman from an early age, she became proficient at training her family's horses. In high school she excelled in debate and sports; at the University of Kansas she performed in plays and was named Homecoming Queen. Ms. Dusay maintained ties to her native state, serving on the University of Kansas Board for the Theater Arts and as Kansas Film Commission Chairwoman for four years. Her charitable work included lending her name and support to the AIDS organizations Project Angel Food and God's Love We Deliver. She also supported and held fundraisers for child abuse organizations.

In 1956 she had married her childhood sweetheart, John Dusay; the couple first lived in New York then settled in San Francisco, where he practiced medicine and she continued to model. When they divorced in 1965, Marj relocated with their children, Debra and Randall, to Los Angeles. She later married Thomas Perine in 1972, an Indianapolis business developer, and became stepmother to his children, Lisa, Tammy, Tomas, and John; they remained married until Mr. Perine's death in 1987.

Ms. Dusay moved East in 1993 to assume the role of Alexandra Spaulding on the New York-based soap “Guiding Light.” In a couple of real-life plot twists, she left the CBS soap for a lead on ABC's “All My Children," as Vanessa Bennett.  When that character drowned, she returned to “Guiding Light” to replace Joan Collins, who had replaced her as Alexandra. She stayed with the role until the show's demise in 2009.

Ms. Dusay was still living in her adored adopted city at the time of her death. She was predeceased by her son, Randall; her parent’s, Joseph and Marie Mahoney; and her brothers John and Joseph Mahoney. She is survived by her daughter, Debra Dusay Blocker; her son-in-law, David Blocker; her granddaughter, Deena Blocker; and her siblings, Mary Ann Mahoney, Kathleen Dunn, and Timothy Mahoney, along with numerous nieces and nephews. She will be missed by all, including her legions of fans and friends.