TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Thea White, the woman who endeared herself to a generation of children as the voice of Muriel on “Courage the Cowardly Dog,” has died at the age of 81, according to a Facebook post from her brother John Zitzner.
Zitzner‘s post shows a video recorded by Thea, known as Feefer by her family, before her surgery on July 20 for a tumor on her liver. In it, she cheerfully tells her husband, Andy White, to send her pictures of children having fun at the beach to help her get better.
“Oh Andy, my darling. Will you do something for Feefer? Will you please take pictures of the little children and the big children frolicking in the ocean?” Thea said. “That will speed my recovery. I mean, I’ll be up and at ’em in five minutes after they cut me open. Well, -ish.”
Zitzner said Thea spent six hours in surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, but successfully had her cancer removed. She later needed another surgery on July 28, two days before she died Friday at 11:05 a.m.
In a second video recorded on July 25, Thea threw on her iconic Scottish accent before wishing her family well as they were Chautauqua.
“I love you, Jackson,” she said. “I’ll talk to you later about all your adventures.”
Born in Newark, New Jersey, White first began as an actress after studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London and the American Theater Wing in New York City. According to New Jersey Hills Media Group, White came from a long line of performers, including her grandmother Eva Hazard who ran away from home to join a theater troupe at the age of 16.
She eventually met her husband Andy while performing in the play “Goodbye Charlie” in Dallas. Andy and Thea both worked with famed actress Marlene Dietrich toward the end of her career, with Andy working as her drummer and Thea as her personal assistant on Dietrich’s Australian tour.
White told New Jersey Hills Media she was there when Dietrich suffered her career-ending leg injury, leading the Whites to go back home.
The two would later settle down in Caldwell where she worked as an outreach specialist at the Livingston Library, seemingly putting an end to her acting career.
However, years later, an acquaintance of hers later contacted her about a role that needed a Scottish accent, which turned out to be Muriel Bagge, the grandmotherly figure who rescued a lost puppy named Courage. The plot of the show revolved around Courage defending Muriel and her cantankerous husband Eustace from various monster and aliens in the middle of Nowhere, Kansas.
Zitzner said one thing his sister talked about shortly before her surgery was the need for her loved ones to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“She was angry about the selfishness of so many who refuse to get it when they should,” he wrote. “So, support Thea Ruth White’s memory (and Muriel) and GET the damn vaccine now!!!”