We never saw Mrs Wolowitz, but we all conjured up a vivid picture of her. So tonight’s episode of The Big Bang Theory marks the end of an era, with the death of the character played by Carol Ann Susi, who herself passed away last November at the age of 62.
Despite never appearing on screen (other than perhaps a brief glimpse of an apron through the kitchen door), Debbie Wolowitz made her presence felt through skilful acting, sharp writing and sheer force of personality. Oh, and with a voice to grate lemons.
Over 39 episodes from the show’s first series in 2007, Susi fashioned a dominant, slightly scary – occasionally icky – matriarch, with a bellow of “Your Fruit Loops are getting soggy!” here or an “I’m in the toilet!” there.
Overprotective towards her son Howard, she clearly doted on him nonetheless. And in recognition of her maternal qualities, Howard’s friends pay their own heartfelt tributes tonight in the closing minutes of the episode. Like Howie they are clearly devastated by her passing, but they rally round with some poignant reflections – even Sheldon!
Although the majority of the story is given over to the Comic Book Store reopening and Penny learning an infuriating fact about Amy, you’ll be thinking of only one person come the final credits…
Mrs Wolowitz’s big moments
Checking up on Howie when he’s in space – and not really understanding what space is…
Reacting to Howie’s big announcement – through a locked toilet door
Mrs Wolowitz and Bernadette have a conversation from different rooms in the house – and Howard realises he may just have married his mother
Mrs Wolowitz enjoys some romance of her own
And for everyone who ever wondered what Mrs Wolowitz really looked like (and if that’s how she actually sounded), here’s a glimpse of Brooklyn-born actress Carol Ann Susi in action as an irritable patient – another Mrs W – in a 2008 episode of Grey’s Anatomy…
Farewell Mrs Wolowitz, farewell Carol Ann…
The Big Bang Theory: The Comic Book Store Regeneration is at 8:30pm on Thursday 16th April on E4