Thanks, Dixie Carter, For Giving Big-Mouthed Women A Boost : Monkey See We take a moment to appreciate Dixie Carter, who could really deliver a rant.
NPR logo Thanks, Dixie Carter, For Giving Big-Mouthed Women A Boost

Thanks, Dixie Carter, For Giving Big-Mouthed Women A Boost

Dixie Carter, seen here in 2008, passed away on Saturday. Kevin Winter/Getty Images hide caption

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Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The news came Saturday that Dixie Carter, who played Julia Sugarbaker on CBS's Designing Women from 1986 to 1993, had died. It has not been a good year or so for television's great broads, whom I wrote about missing almost a year ago, when Bea Arthur died.

I won't rehash everything I said back then about how much I miss shows about grown-up women who don't get their comedy from bumbling and aren't entirely defined by their romantic relationships, but it's still true. And it's still true that, when I was a high-school girl trying to grow into the opinionated person I am today, having Julia Sugarbaker to watch was quite a delight to me. Obviously, lots of the credit goes to the writers who put all those words in her mouth, but Dixie Carter had a beautiful touch that made those famous speeches of hers utterly withering but still dignified.

I saw that "Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" clip everywhere on Facebook this weekend, and rightly so, but of all her Julia moments, this one is actually my favorite. You can really see there how well they wrote to the rhythms of her voice and the shape of her accent. Julia wasn't all rants, of course — she was also a really compassionate and devoted person, but ... boy, sometimes, a good rant is like music.