She died in Los Angeles just before Christmas on 23 December (12) after a long battle with Alzheimer’s-related dementia.
Ward’s death comes just seven months after the former teen idol opened up about her “heartbreaking” decline to the U.K.’s Daily Mail, revealing he had placed her in a 24-hour care nursing facility since she could no longer walk or talk.
The Partridge Family star, whose father was actor Jack Cassidy, previously said, “My mother basically raised me for years on her own and worked to support me. She did over 20 Broadway shows and was a very independent, talented, loving human being.”
Born in New Jersey, Ward first launched her career as a Roxyette at New York’s Roxy Theater in the 1940s before making her Broadway debut in Early to Bed. Over the years she built up a long list of stage credits, including roles in The Firebrand of Florence, Spring in Brazil, Along Fifth Avenue and New Girl in Town.
She also shone on the small screen in Manhattan Showcase and The College Bowl, and made several guest appearances on U.S. TV shows The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Perry Mason and Dr. Kildare.