Lynn Cohen has died. Best known to TV audiences for her regular role as housekeeper Magda on HBO’s Sex And The City, Cohen appeared in more than 100 projects across her long career, including memorable turns in Steven Spielberg’s Munich and the second Hunger Games film, Catching Fire.
Born in Missouri in the 1930s, Cohen spent most of her early career on the stage, not making her film debut until Woody Allen’s Manhattan Murder Mystery in 1993, where she played the key subject of the hypothetical whodunnit. (She would work with Allen again four years later, with a small part in 1997's Deconstructing Harry.) At roughly the same time, she picked up one of the two roles that would be a recurring part of her filmography for more than a decade: That of semi-regular judge Elizabeth Mizener on Law & Order. Dick Wolf, obviously, never met a talented character actor he wouldn’t hold on to for a later use; Cohen ended up playing the part 12 times across the franchise’s long existence (plus two more unaffiliated guest star roles on SVU).
Cohen’s resume is a long list of older women smilingly refusing to take the shit of others, from veteran survivor Mags in Catching Fire, to cheerfully obstinate housekeeper Magda on SaTC. (She reprised the role in both of the show’s follow-up films.) But that tendency toward quiet steel reached its apex in what was possibly her most high-profile performance: As Israeli leader Golda Meir in Spielberg’s Munich, who, in a brief speech, lays out the ethical and political rationale behind all the bloody retaliation to come:
In recent years, Cohen’s roles ranged from smaller projects like the recent God Friended Me, to numerous appearances in low-budget films, to notable-if-brief roles on series like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Master Of None.
Cohen was 86. She is survived by Ronald T. Cohen, her husband of 56 years.