Besedka Johnson; had first movie role after turning 85

Besedka Johnson and Dree Hemingway in a scene from “Starlet.”
Augusta Quirk/Music Box Films via Associated Press
Besedka Johnson and Dree Hemingway in a scene from “Starlet.”

LOS ANGELES — Besedka Johnson, who became an actress at age 85 and won praise for last year’s movie “Starlet,” has died. She was 87.

Ms. Johnson died April 4 at Glendale Memorial Hospital of complications following surgery for a bacterial infection, her son, Jim, told the Los Angeles Times.

Ms. Johnson played the cranky widow Sadie who befriended Dree Hemingway in last year’s movie. It was her only role.


“Besedka showed that no age is too old to do what you dream. I loved her dearly,’’ Hemingway said in a statement.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Ms. Johnson got the part when an executive producer for the movie saw her in the locker room at a YMCA gym in Los Angeles and asked her to audition.

“I thought it has got to be a great big joke,” Ms. Johnson later said, but “when you’re this old, it’s like, let’s just go along with it and see what happens.”