At the age of 83, beloved 1980s primetime star Barbara Bosson passed away. Jesse Bochco, the son of Bosson, announced the news on Instagram on Sunday.
“More spirit and zest than you could shake a stick at,” wrote the TV producer and director, 47. “When she loved you, you felt it without a doubt. If she didn’t, you might well have also known that forever in our hearts. I love you, Mama. Barbara “Babs” Bosson Bochco 1939-2023 “
The caption was posted with a picture that Bosson’s son had taken of her holding him as a toddler on a sunny day in the 1970s. Bosson’s most well-known performance was on the TV series Hill Street Blues, which her then-husband, TV powerhouse Steven Bochco, produced.
She received five consecutive Emmy nominations from 1981 to 1985 for her role as Fay Furillo, the ex-wife of Hill Street Precinct Captain Frank Furillo (Daniel J. Travanti). When her husband was sacked from the sitcom during the sixth season of its final year due to creative and financial differences with the show’s production company MTM Enterprises, she left the show.
In 1996, ten years later, she received another Emmy nomination for her work as prosecutor Miriam Grasso in Murder One, another of her husband’s works.
Before their divorce in 1997 after 27 years of marriage, Bosson and her husband collaborated on several series, most notably the cop procedural-musical hybrid Cop Rock from the 1990s and the 1970s spin-off Richie Brockelman from the Rockford Files. They also worked together on Private Eye and the late 1980s dramedy Hooperman with John Ritter.
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who died in 2018 at age 74 — joked with PEOPLE in 1981 that his then-wife’s name was spelled “B-O-S-S-O-N, with an ‘n’ as in ‘nepotism.'” He went on to say, in earnest: “The only rule I have about working with friends and loved ones is that I’m not going to penalize them for it, but if they’re not better than the next person on the list, I’m not going to hire them, either. I’ve never been very sensitive about charges of nepotism because I’ve turned Barbara down for parts before. We’ve had a few words about that.”
For her part, Bosson said they mostly managed to keep the peace while intermingling their professional and personal lives. “The only thing I have trouble with — and I can handle it — is that Steven is so used to being an executive,” she told PEOPLE. “I bristle at having someone else in charge. I have to get aggressive and say, ‘Look, this is the way it will be’—and he backs down immediately.”
Bosson was born on November 1st, 1939, in Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. She was the daughter of a milkman and tennis coach John Bosson, and his wife, Doris.
“I saw him suffer silently — he hated being a milkman — and that’s why I was determined not to compromise,” When Hill Street Blues won an unprecedented eight Emmys for its second season on NBC in 1981, she told PEOPLE.
She decided to be an actress at age 3 and traveled to New York City after high school to seek a stage career. “It was like going to Paris or London for me, I’d been so sheltered at home,” At age 3, she made the decision to become an actress, and after high school, she moved to New York City to pursue a career in theatre. I had been so safe at home, it was like traveling to Paris or London.
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She met her future husband there, but the relationship didn’t work out because Steven was already married at the time. After her second year, the actress dropped out and moved to the West Coast, where she landed a supporting role in the 1968 crime drama Bullitt starring Steve McQueen.
Bosson reconnected with Bochco, who was finally divorced while performing with the comedic troupe The Committee in Los Angeles. In 1970, the year they had their daughter Melissa, they married. Jesse joined the Bochco family in March 1975, making them a family of four-five years later.
Bochco proceeded to book roles in numerous film and TV projects throughout the years she spent juggling her responsibilities as a working actress and mother of two, most notably appearing in 1984’s The Last Starfighter.