NEW YORK — Charita Bauer, who played matriarch Bert Bauer on radio and television in CBS' "Guiding Light" for nearly 40 years, died Thursday at the age of 62 after a long illness.
Bauer, a native of Newark, N.J., began her career at 8 as a photographer's model but was best known as Bert Bauer after she took over the role on radio in the late 1940s.
When "Guiding Light" premiered on television in 1952, she commuted between radio and television studios to play the role. She was the only original member of the TV cast still in the show when she quit last Dec. 10.
The likeness in surnames was a coincidence, but Bauer's real life was written into the script on two occasions--in the 1960s when she had uterine cancer and in 1984 when she had a leg amputated. In both instances the character she played suffered similar health problems.
Bauer made her Broadway debut in 1933 in "Thunder on the Left" and also appeared in "The Women," "The Life of Riley" and "Good Morning, Corporal." In 1976 she toured in "Plaza Suite" with an all-soap-opera cast.
Her radio credits include "The March of Time," "Cavalcade of America," "The FBI in Peace and War" and "Mr. Keen: Tracer of Lost Persons."
In 1983 Bauer received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
She is survived by her father, George, of New York, a son, Michael Crawford, and a grandson.