Orpheum president remembers "terrific" Dixie Carter

Dixie Carter
Dixie Carter

By Ben Watson - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - As the character "Julia Sugarbaker" from the hit show "Designing Women," Dixie Carter turned Southern charm into a art form. And, according to Pat Halloran, President of the Orpheum in Memphis, she made a lot of friends along the way.

"I never knew her to be any different, and the role she played on...Designing Women - that was her," he said. "She was a Tennessee girl. She lived here. She had this Tennessee home that she was renovating."

Halloran first met Carter and her husband, Hal Holbrook, during the early 1980's.  When Holbrook's movie "The Firm" premiered at the Orpheum during the 1990's, Halloran asked Carter to act as the host, because Tom Cruise and other stars could not attend the premier.

"She came on stage," he said. "We talked that afternoon, and she was just terrific."

About a year and a half later, Carter was back at the Orpheum, this time to see a one act play by her good friend, Burt Reynolds.

"That night Ann Margaret, and her husband Roger Smith, and Dixie and I, and Tanya Tucker were sitting in one of the luxury suites, and we just visited all night," Halloran said.

According to Halloran, Carter was fond of Memphis. Born in West Tennessee, she graduated from the University of Memphis and took courses at Rhodes College.

"You've got to remember she just lived in West Tennessee, so coming to Memphis was the big city, even though they also had a home in Los Angeles," he said.

Now, Halloran and other Orpheum officials are planning to honor Carter with a bronze star on the sidewalk in front of the theater.  If that happens her star would join her husband's, which was put there several years ago.

The Dilday-Carter Funeral Home in Huntington is handling funeral arrangements for Carter.

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