Character actor Denise Dowse, who enjoyed a nearly four-decade-long career in film and television, has died after being hospitalized and put in a coma by a “virulent form of meningitis.” The news was confirmed by her sister, Tracey Dowse, on Instagram (via The Hollywood Reporter) with a post that called her “the most amazing sister, a consummate, illustrious actress, mentor, and director. Dowse was 64.
Though Dowse preferred working in the theater, either onstage or as a director, she appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows throughout her career. She was probably best known for playing West Beverly Hills High Vice Principal Yvonne Teasley on Beverly Hills, 90210, though in recent years she had a recurring role as therapist Rhonda Pine on Insecure, working with Yovonne Orji’s Molly.
Dowse was born in Hawaii in 1958, the daughter of a teacher and a career Navy man. She moved around the world with her family for a lot of her life, and THR says she got her start in the theater after applying to both the U.S. Naval Academy and traveling acting troupe Up With People in the ‘70s. Rather than following her father into the Navy, she chose to make her own path and become and actor. She moved to Los Angeles in the ‘80s and worked as an extra, with her first speaking role on TV being in an episode of ALF.
Over the next few decades, she popped up on Full House, Seinfeld, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, NewsRadio, ER, The Mentalist, Monk, Bones, Sister Sister, The Guardian, Criminal Minds, Gilmore Girls, The Resident, and Snowfall. She also appeared in Bio-Dome, Requiem For A Dream, Guess Who, Reign Over Me, Coach Carter, Starship Troopers, Pleasantville, Fatale, and Ray, where she played the manager of Jamie Foxx’s Ray Charles.