'9 to 5' actress Peggy Pope dies aged 91

Ben Arnold
Peggy Pope in 9 to 5 (Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Peggy Pope, the actress who stole every scene in the classic Dolly Parton comedy 9 to 5, has died at the age of 91.

She died at home in Fort Collins, Colorado, on May 27, her family confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter, of causes unrelated to COVID-19.

Pope began her acting career in the theatre, starring in a host of productions on Broadway through the 1960s.

She starred alongside screen icon Jimmy Stewart in the Broadway production of Harvey in 1970, and won an Obie award, the awards for off-Broadway performances, for her role in the 1968 production of the social satire play Muzeeka.

On TV, he was known for her recurring role as Mrs. David in the long-running sitcom Soap, alongside Billy Crystal.

She also appeared in a host of other shows and sitcoms, including Bewitched, Hart to Hart, cop show Barney Miller, The Golden Girls and Law & Order.

Peggy Pope appearing in the Walt Disney TV show The Neighbors (Credit: Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

In 2008, she also starred in Marvel star Clark Gregg’s adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Choke, alongside Sam Rockwell and Anjelica Huston.

But it was playing the soused secretary Margaret in 9 to 5, alongside Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, that she stole the show.

Referred to a 'the old lush' by others in the office, she coins the phrase 'atta girl!', which spurs on Parton, Tomlin and Fonda's characters in their fight against office sexism.

In her memoir Atta Girl: Tales from a Life in the Trenches of Show Business, she said of the role: “It was a good movie and a good part. At the end, my character comes back from rehab, hair combed, looking spiffy and ready for the sequel.

“Underdogs climbing to the top is a fine formula, and it's always good to be in at the end of a film so people remember you were in it.”

She is survived by her nephews, Rob, Douglas, Ross and Ed, her niece, Wendy, and her partner, Eric.