Dixie Carter was a wonderful actress of the stage and screen, who passed away this week at the age of 70. Although I’d mostly seen her on television, I did once get to see her on stage at The Shakespeare Theatre, performing in Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windemere’s Fan. She was delightful to see. (I heard some less flattering stories from backstage, but for today I’m focusing on the positive.)
Dixie had many roles, but none so memorable as her larger-than-life portrayal of Julia Sugarbaker in seven seasons on Designing Women. It was a show that celebrated the power and humor of women and often took on controversial issues like pornography, the Anita Hill hearings and AIDS. This combination of brutal honesty and brassy broads is why I think it has been such a favorite of gay men for many years.
Don’t believe me? Try this. Walk into any gay bar where the average age is over 30, and start saying this line at the top of your lungs. “Excuse me, aren’t you Marjorie Leigh Winnick, the current Miss Georgia World?” If you don’t hear at least half a dozen men quote this scene in full, then it’s not a gay bar.
So with fond memories of a favorite Georgia peach, I present a few more choice moments of Dixie as Julia. She left a searing feminist mark on television that will never be forgotten.