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Linda Lavin
Born October 15, 1937 (1937-10-15) (age 72)
Portland, Maine,
United States
Occupation singer, actress
Spouse(s) Ron Leibman (1969-1981)
Kip Niven (1982-1991)
Steve Bakunas (2005-present)

Linda Lavin (born October 15, 1937) is an American singer and actress. She is best known for playing the title character in the sitcom Alice and for her Broadway performances.


Early life and career

Lavin was born in Portland, Maine, the daughter of Lucille (née Potter), an opera singer, and David J. Lavin, a businessman.[1] Her family was musically talented, and Lavin has been onstage since the age of five.[citation needed] Upon her graduation from the College of William and Mary, she had already received her Actors' Equity Association card. Before her career in stage began she worked maintenance at The Velvet Touch in Flint, Michigan. She was a member of the Compass Players in the late 1950s. By the early 1960s, Lavin made a name for herself in New York City on Broadway and appeared on the (both 1966) cast recordings of The Mad Show (on which her performance of Stephen Sondheim's "The Boy From..." gained note) and "It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman" (from which one of her numbers, "You've Got Possibilities," was the album's best-received song and, years later, was featured on a Pillsbury commercial).



In 1967, Lavin made an appearance as Gloria Thorpe in a television version of the musical Damn Yankees with Phil Silvers. In 1969, Lavin married actor Ron Leibman, and by 1973 the couple had arrived in Hollywood.

After various guest appearances on episodic television series such as The Nurses, Rhoda, Harry O and Kaz, Lavin landed a recurring role on Barney Miller during the first and second seasons. She left Barney Miller to star in the lead role in Alice. The show was a popular hit for CBS, and ran from 1976 to 1985. The series was based on the Martin Scorsese-directed Ellen Burstyn film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. Lavin portrayed Alice Hyatt, the character that Burstyn had played, and for which she won an Oscar. Lavin performed the series' theme song, "There's a New Girl in Town," which was written by David Shire and Alan and Marilyn Bergman and was updated for each of the first six seasons. During the series' nine-season run, Lavin earned two Golden Globe awards and an Emmy nomination, as well as a great deal of experience directing, especially during the later seasons. Lavin also played Debbie Walden, the wizened and former landlady of the character Vera Louise Gorman-Novak. Debbie eventually moved into Vera's house, along with Vera's husband, Elliot Novak, and the pastor who married them.

She made numerous television appearances outside of her sitcom, including hosting her own holiday special, Linda in Wonderland.

Lavin made her feature film debut in The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984). Her only other feature film appearances are in See You in the Morning starring Jeff Bridges and Alain Resnais' I Want to Go Home opposite Gerard Depardieu. Both films were released in 1989.

Lavin was a popular actress of not only television shows but also telefilms. The number of telefilms Lavin has to her name include: Damn Yankees!, Sadbird, The Morning After, Jerry, Like Mom, Like Me, The $5.20 an Hour Dream, A Matter of Life and Death, Another Woman's Child, Maricela, Lena: My 100 Children, Whitewash, A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story, Stolen Memories: Secrets from the Rose Garden, For the Future: The Irvine Fertility Scandal, The Ring, and Best Friends for Life. These were first aired between 1967 and 1998.

She directed the 1990 telefilm Flour Babies, and also directed theater, with her experiences from directing later Alice episodes. She acted in two sitcoms (1992's Room for Two and 1998's Conrad Bloom) and made numerous television guest appearances (including roles on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The O.C., Touched by an Angel and HBO's The Sopranos).


Lavin began her career with Broadway appearances in the musicals A Family Affair and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, and plays such as Something Different, The Riot Act, and Cop-Out. Lavin first gained major notice for her appearance in the musical It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman!.

In her early years, Lavin also appeared in numerous off-Broadway productions, including Wet Paint, Little Murders, and the musical The Mad Show. Lavin won a Drama Desk Award for Little Murders, and the Theatre World Award for Wet Paint.

After her years on television, Lavin returned to the New York stage, where she appeared on the Broadway stage in shows such as The Sisters Rosenweig, Hollywood Arms, and Gypsy, among many others.

June Havoc saw Lavin's performance as Rose Hovick in Gypsy and sent Lavin a photo of Havoc's mother, the real Rose Hovick, with a note of appreciation for Lavin's particular portrayal of Mama Rose.[2]

She won a Tony Award in 1987 for her highly-praised role in Neil Simon's play Broadway Bound. Her memorable scene where she describes her chance meeting with movie star George Raft, whom she gets to dance with, was one of the play's many highlights. Her first Tony nomination was for another Neil Simon play, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, in 1970. Last of the Red Hot Lovers was one of Lavin's last Broadway credits before she moved to Hollywood. She was also nominated for Tony Awards for her work in The Diary of Anne Frank, in which she played Mrs. Van Daan, opposite Natalie Portman; and for Charles Busch's The Tale of the Allergist's Wife co-starring Tony Roberts and Michele Lee.

In 1987, Lavin also won her second Drama Desk Award for Broadway Bound. She received Drama Desk nominations for her subsequent roles in The Diary of Anne Frank and The Tale of the Allergist's Wife. She also earned a Drama Desk nomination for her role in Death-Defying Acts, an off-Broadway play for which she also won a Best Actress Obie Award and the Lucille Lortel Award.

Lavin appeared as Ruth Steiner in the play Collected Stories, and reprised her role for a PBS production of the work, and in 1997, Lavin founded The Linda Lavin Foundation in Wilmington, North Carolina, which focuses upon eleven- to fourteen-year-old girls.

In Wilmington, she often directs for the stage. One of her directorial credits there is an innovative 1998 production of William Shakespeare's As You Like It performed in a Brazilian jazz style.

Lavin also has taught master classes for New York University's Performing Arts Division.

Personal life

Lavin has been married three times. Her first marriage to Ron Leibman ended in divorce in 1981. Her second marriage to Kip Niven, who played the boyfriend of Beth Howland's character, Vera Louise Gorman-Novak, ended in divorce in 1991. While Lavin has no biological children, she is the stepmother to Kip's children Jim and Kate Niven and the grandmother to Jim's sons Grayson and Talen.

Lavin later married actor, artist and musician Steve Bakunas in 2005. The couple resides in Wilmington, North Carolina where they are committed community members working together to rehabilitate impoverished neighborhoods including renovating many homes, donating a park to the city and creating a community theater.





External links

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