Actress and director Denise Dowse, well known for her role as Vice Principal Yvonne Teasley on “Beverly Hills, 90210,” has died after falling into a coma due to a battle with viral meningitis. She was 64.
Dowse’s sister, Tracey Dowse, first announced her sister was in the hospital fighting for her life in an Instagram post on the actress’ page on Aug. 7.
“As many of you know I am a private person. So this is hard for me.,” Tracey wrote. “I am requesting support and prayers be offered me and my sister, and my only immediate family @denisedowse. She is currently in the hospital in a coma brought on by a virulent form of meningitis. Her doctors do not know when she will come out of the coma as it was not medically induced.”
“She is a vibrant actor and director that should have many years ahead of her. Thoughts, prayers and support are greatly appreciated,” Tracey continued.
On Aug. 14, Tracey posed on Dowse’s Instagram again to announce she’d passed away.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I inform everyone that my sister, Denise Dowse has gone forward to meet our family in eternal life,” Tracey wrote. “Denise Yvonne Dowse was the most amazing sister, a consummate, illustrious actress, mentor and director. She was my very best friend and final family member. Denise loved all of you. I know that she is watching over us with all the love she has. I ask for privacy and your continued prayers.”
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Dowse was the daughter of a Naval officer, according to Hollywood Fringe. She graduated from Norfolk State University with a bachelor’s in English and Theater.
Her career spanned decades. In addition to her role as Mrs. Teasley on 90210, Dowse also starred in award-winning television series and films, including “Insecure,” “Ray,” “Girlfriends” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Dowse also won multiple five NAACP awards for Best Director. She directed the bio-film about gospel legend Mahalia Jackson titled “Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story.”
She was also the Resident Director at Amazing Grace Conservatory, a weekend performing arts school for youth ages 8-18.
Tributes poured in after the news of Dowse’s death. Her 90210, Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling, co-stars remembered Dowse on their 90210MG podcast.
“It’s unbelievable to me, and I can’t imagine how devastated her family is, her sister, everyone that knew her. It’s just shocking — these kind of deaths are the hardest, I think,” Garth said.
“There was just something about Denise that was so easy,” Garth continued. “She was like your oldest friend and she would show up on set and then she’d be in a scene … it was just so natural being around her and working with her.”
“She was so easy to work with and so encouraging,” Spelling agreed. “She knew I was super nervous and that was the day I was like, ‘Thank goodness that big scene was with her.’ She always gave the best hugs on set.”
“She was in her prime, and it’s so hard,” Spelling added.
Dowse’s manager Sandra Siegal also remembered her fondly.
“I am heartbroken at the loss of our brilliantly talented, beautiful, elegant, eloquent and loving Denise, who I’ve had the joy and blessing of managing and collaborating on her career for over 25 years, as well as a personal friendship,” Siegal said. “I am at a loss, but have gained so much from knowing her. Denise’s legacy and memory will live on forever for she has truly touched so many.”
Tributes also poured out on social media from Dowse’s co-stars, friends and fans.
“It truly was a delight and a pleasure to work with @denisedowse on @insecurehbo. She embodied the strength and wisdom in real life that her character #DrRhonda shared with Molly. You will truly be missed and so fondly remembered. May your soul forever Rest In Perfect Peace.”
“From the moment we cast @denisedowse we knew she was the perfect person to @YvonneOrji therapist on @insecurehbo – thank you for your gifts, your talent and your everything! We will all miss you. May you Rest In Peace! Insecure showrunner Prentice Penny tweeted.
Here are some more reactions to Dowse’s death from Twitter.