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Madeline Kahn
Born Madeline Gail Wolfson
September 29, 1942(1942-09-29)
Boston, Massachusetts
Died December 3, 1999 (aged 57)
New York City, New York
Occupation actress, singer
Years active 1968–1999
Spouse(s) John Hansbury (1999)

Madeline Kahn (September 29, 1942 – December 3, 1999) was an American actress, known primarily for her comedic roles. Director Mel Brooks — who directed her in four films — said of her: "She is one of the most talented people that ever lived... I mean, either in stand-up comedy, or acting, or whatever you want, you can't beat Madeline Kahn."[1]

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Early life

Kahn was born Madeline Gail Wolfson in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Paula Kahn and Bernard Wolfson, who was a garment manufacturer.[2][3] She was raised in a non-observant Jewish family.[4] Her parents divorced when Kahn was two, and Kahn and her mother moved to New York City. Several years later, both of her parents remarried and gave Kahn two half-siblings: Jeffrey (from her mother) and Robyn (from her father).

In 1948, Kahn was sent to a progressive boarding school in Pennsylvania and stayed there until 1952. During that time, her mother pursued her acting dream. Kahn soon began acting herself and performed in a number of school productions. In 1960, she graduated from Martin Van Buren High School in Queens, where she earned a drama scholarship to Hofstra University. At Hofstra, she studied drama, music, and speech therapy. After changing her major a number of times, Kahn graduated from Hofstra in 1964 with a degree in speech therapy.

Career

Kahn began auditioning for professional acting roles shortly after her graduation from Hofstra; on the side, she briefly taught public school in Levittown, New York. Just before adopting the professional name Madeline Kahn (Kahn was her mother's maiden name), she made her stage debut as a chorus girl in a revival of Kiss Me, Kate, which led her to join Actors' Equity. Her part in the flop How Now, Dow Jones was written out before the 1967 show reached Broadway, as was her role as Miss Whipple in the original production of Promises, Promises. She earned her first break on Broadway with New Faces of 1968. That same year, she performed her first professional lead in a special concert performance of the operetta Candide in honor of Leonard Bernstein's 50th birthday. In 1969, she appeared off-Broadway in the revue Promenade.

She appeared in two Broadway musicals in the 1970s: a featured role in Richard Rodgers' 1970 Noah's Ark-themed show Two by Two (her silly waltz "The Golden Ram," capped by a high C, can be heard on the show's cast album) and a leading lady turn as Lily Garland in 1978's On the Twentieth Century. She left (or was fired from) the latter show early in its run, yielding the role to her understudy, Judy Kaye, whose career it launched. She also starred in a 1977 Town Hall revival of She Loves Me (opposite Barry Bostwick and original London cast member Rita Moreno).

Kahn's film debut was in the 1968 short De Düva: The Dove. Her feature debut was as Ryan O'Neal's hysterical fiancée in Peter Bogdanovich's screwball comedy What's Up, Doc? (1972) starring Barbra Streisand. Her film career continued with Paper Moon (1973), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Kahn was cast in the role of Agnes Gooch in the 1974 film Mame, but star Lucille Ball fired Kahn due to artistic differences. (Note: several of Ball's biographies note that Kahn was eager to be released from the role so that she could join the cast of Blazing Saddles, a film about to go into production; whether Kahn was fired or left Mame under mutual agreement is undetermined).

A close succession of Kahn comedies — Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein (1974), and High Anxiety (1977) — were all directed by Mel Brooks, who many Hollywood observers claimed was able to bring out the best of Kahn's comic talents. Their last collaboration would be 1981's History of the World, Part I. For Blazing Saddles, she was again nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In the April 2006 issue of Premiere magazine, her performance as Lili von Shtupp in Saddles was selected as #74 on its list of the 100 greatest performances of all time.[5] In 1978, Kahn's comic screen persona reached another peak with Neil Simon's The Cheap Detective (1978), a spoof of Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon directed by Robert Moore. In the film she befuddles Peter Falk's gumshoe with an array of fake identities.

Kahn's roles were primarily comedic rather than dramatic, though the 1970s found her originating roles in two plays that had both elements: 1974's In the Boom Boom Room and 1977's Marco Polo Sings a Solo. After her success in Brooks' films, she played in a number of less successful films in the 1980s (perhaps most memorably as Mrs. White in the 1985 film Clue). She also performed in the movie The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975) opposite Gene Wilder, the holiday farce Mixed Nuts (1994) and a cameo in 1978's The Muppet Movie.

In 1983, she starred in her own short-lived TV sitcom, Oh Madeline, which ended after only one season due to poor ratings. In 1986 she starred in ABC Comedy Factory's pilot episode of Chameleon, which never aired on the fall schedule; it co-starred Nina Foch. In 1987, Kahn won a Daytime Emmy award for her performance in the ABC Afterschool Special, Wanted: The Perfect Guy.

Late in her career, Kahn returned to the stage, first in Judy Holliday's role in a 1989 revival of Born Yesterday, then as Dr. Gorgeous in Wendy Wasserstein's 1993 play The Sisters Rosensweig, a role that gained her a Tony Award. She played the corrupt mayor (Angela Lansbury's role) in a concert performance of Anyone Can Whistle that was released on CD. She also continued to appear in movies.

In the early 1990s, Kahn recorded a voice for the animated movie The Magic 7. Her most notable role at that time was her role on the sitcom Cosby (1996-2000) as Pauline, the eccentric neighbor. She also voiced Gypsy the moth in A Bug's Life (1998). Kahn received some of the best reviews of her career for her Chekhovian turn in the 1999 independent movie Judy Berlin, her final film.

Illness and death

Kahn was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in early 1999. She underwent treatment and continued to work, even continuing her role on Cosby. Kahn married her long-time companion, John Hansbury, in October 1999.[6] However, the disease progressed rapidly, and on December 3, 1999, Kahn died at the age of 57. She was cremated.[7]

Work

Filmography

Theater

Television

References

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Madeline Kahn (September 29, 1942December 3, 1999) was an Academy Award-nominated Jewish American actress of movie, television and theater distinguished by an unusual gift for comedy.

Contents

Sourced

  • I don't like to be my own audience, I find that being my own audience, being in the audience, makes me self-conscious, basically. So I tune in sometimes, with the sound off, to check it out and I back up to it. In the future I will look at it when some time has passed.
  • Me, as myself, I don't think I'm particularly funny. But I've noticed that people in my life always have found me amusing. Which, when I was little, really bothered me.
  • Mel is sensual with me. He treats me like an uncle - a dirty uncle. He's an earthy man and very moral underneath. He has traditional values.
    • Paul D. Zimmerman, (February 17, 1975) "The Mad Mad Mel Brooks", Newsweek

Attributed

  • How can I believably be a dumb blonde. I'm the furthest thing from it. I am intelligent. I don't mean I have a great IQ. I just mean there's always an intelligence present in what I do.
    • Reported in Terry Byrne, (December 7, 1999) "Appreciation - Comedy was no laughing matter to Kahn", Boston Herald
  • What's wrong with musicals now is all the gifted men who've died of AIDS—who would otherwise be here today creating great theater.
    • Reported in Boze Hadleigh, (2007) Broadway Babylon: Glamour, Glitz, and Gossip on the Great White Way, Back Stage Books, ISBN 0823088308, p. 95.
  • Laughter is a strange response. I mean, what is it? It's a spasm of some kind! Is that always joy? It's very often discomfort. It's some sort of explosive reaction. It's very complex.

About

  • She is one of the most talented people that ever lived. I mean, either in stand-up comedy, or acting, or whatever you want, you can't beat Madeline Kahn.

External links

Wikipedia
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Simple English

Madeline Kahn was an American actress. She died of ovarian cancer. She died in 1999. She was born in 1942. She made a guest appearance on the Carol Burnett Show. She was also known for being in the movie, Young Frankenstein. She was also a comedian. She also appeared on the Cosby Show.








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