She passed away on Wednesday at the age of 83.
Here are three inter-related clips from the early period in the history of 'Family', showcasing Sada Thompson's incredible talent, with able support from James Broderick, Elaine Heilveil, Kristy McNichol, and John Rubinstein.
Now, I didn't even realize that the role of Nancy was ever played by anyone else but Meredith Baxter-Birney. And now having seen just a sampling of Ms. Heilveil in the role, I think it's likely she was replaced in order to "goose" the ratings with "a hot blonde". Because Elaine Heilveil is good in the role, and she looks more like she was the daughter of Broderick and Thompson.
Anyhoo, here's Meredith Baxter-Birney in the role of Nancy, having no choice but to be outshined by Sada Thompson:
I always believed that Sada Thompson would have been the perfect embodiment of 'Mrs. Columbo'.
Good night and may God bless Jackie Cooper, Marian Mercer, and Sada Thompson.