Carter made her stage debut in a 1960 production of Carousel in Memphis
Actress Dixie Carter, who received an Emmy nomination for her guest role in Desperate Housewives, has died at the age of 70.Publicist Steve Rohr told the AP news agency that Carter died in Houston of complications of endometrial cancer.
Carter had a star role in TV drama Designing Women, which ran on the CBS network between 1986 and 1993.
She played the devious mother-in-law of Marcia Cross's character, Bree Hodge, in Desperate Housewives.
"This has been a terrible blow to our family," her actor husband Hal Holbrook said in a written statement.
"We would appreciate everyone understanding that this is a private family tragedy."
Carter, who hailed from Tennessee, played sharp-tongued Julia Sugarbaker in Designing Women, which revolved around four women and a man working at an interior design company.
She also appeared in 1980s sitcom Diff'rent Strokes and legal drama, Family Law.
She made her Broadway debut in 1974 in a short-lived musical, Sextet, and appeared in a 1976 revival of Pal Joey.
Her final Broadway appearance was in 2004, playing Mrs Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie.
In later years, she also performed in cabaret.
Carter's final project, the 2009 independent film That Evening Sun, was shot in Tennessee and was based on a short story by Southern novelist William Gay.
Her husband also appeared in the film.
Previously, she was married to investment banker and newspaper owner Arthur Carter for 10 years and had two daughters Mary Dixie Carter and Ginna Carter.
She also married the actor George Hearn in 1977, the same year she got divorced from Carter. That marriage lasted only two years.
In 1984 she married Holbrook, whom she had met doing a 1980 television film, The Killing of Randy Webster.
Holbrook was nominated for best supporting actor in 2008 for his role in Sean Penn's film Into the Wild.