Madeline Kahn

Performer
Madeline Kahn

Also known as: Madeline Gail Wolfson

Female

Born: September 29, 1942
Boston, Massachusetts

Died: December 3, 1999
New York, New York

Madeline Kahn, a 1993 Tony Award winner for playing a character named Dr. Gorgeous in The Sisters Rosensweig, and best-known for playing gorgeously baroque vamps in the Mel Brooks spoofs, "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein," has died at age 57. Reuters reports that Ms. Kahn died of ovarian cancer Dec. 3, 1999. Madeline Kahn, a 1993 Tony Award winner for playing a character named Dr. Gorgeous in The Sisters Rosensweig, and best-known for playing gorgeously baroque vamps in the Mel Brooks spoofs, "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein," has died at age 57. Reuters reports that Ms. Kahn died of ovarian cancer Dec. 3.

According to Reuters, her husband, John Hansbury, said in a statement, "Madeline was a performer of brilliance and a loyal and trusted friend to everyone she encountered... While we mourn her passing, we celebrate a full and wonderful life."

Ms. Kahn's other Broadway credits include three other Tony-nominated roles: In the Boom Boom Room (1973), On The 20th Century (1978) and a revival of Born Yesterday opposite Edward Asner (1989).

Although she was a comic hit as Lily Garland in the Betty Comden-Adolph Green-Cy Coleman musical, On the 20th Century, she left that musical early, providing understudy Judy Kaye a chance to shine and eventually become a star herself (Kaye would later win a Tony for The Phantom of the Opera). Ms. Kahn also appeared with Danny Kaye in the Noah-themed Richard Rodgers musical, Two by Two.

A trained opera singer, Ms. Kahn was born in Boston on Sept. 29, 1942 and graduated from Long Island's Hofstra University.

Ms. Kahn received Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominations for her work in "Blazing Saddles" and "Paper Moon," in 1973 and 1974, respectively. Among other theatre-related projects, Ms. Kahn had a featured role in a 1996 TV adaptation of Neil Simon's "London Suite."

In its obituary on the actress, Associated Press quotes Mel Brooks as having once said, "She is one of the most talented people that ever lived."

Ms. Kahn's illness was made public in October. In statement, the actress had said, "It is my hope that I might raise awareness of this awful disease and hasten the day that an effective test can be discovered to give women a fighting chance to catch this cancer in its earliest stage."

Obituary: Kahn had faced the disease for a year.

She recently appeared on TV's "Cosby," and had a short-lived TV series of her own, "Oh, Madeline," in the 1980s, but might be best known for being one of movie director Brooks' favorite comic actresses, appearing in "Blazing Saddles," "Young Frankenstein," "High Anxiety" and "History of the World Part 1." She also stole scenes in "Paper Moon" and "What's Up Doc?"

She won a 1993 Tony Award for Best Actress (Play) as the Chanel-loving radio talk show host, Dr. Gorgeous Teitelbaum in Wendy Wasserstein's The Sisters Rosensweig.

 

Roles

Playbill Cover - The Sisters Rosensweig The Sisters Rosensweig
Mar. 18, 1993 - Jul. 16, 1994
Gorgeous Teitelbaum Performer
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Born Yesterday Born Yesterday
Jan. 29, 1989 - Jun. 11, 1989
Billie Dawn Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - On the Twentieth Century On the Twentieth Century
Feb. 19, 1978 - Mar. 18, 1979
Lily Garland Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Boom Boom Room Boom Boom Room
Nov. 8, 1973 - Dec. 9, 1973
Chrissy Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Two by Two Two by Two
Nov. 10, 1970 - Sep. 11, 1971
Goldie Performer
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1968 Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1968
May 2, 1968 - Jun. 15, 1968
Performer
(Original)
 
 

Inside the Playbill (4)

See more Who's Who

Awards


Drama Desk Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1993 Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play The Sisters Rosensweig Winner
1974 Outstanding Performance Boom Boom Room Winner

Outer Critics Circle

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1993 Outstanding Actress in a Play The Sisters Rosensweig Winner

Tony Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1993 Actress in a Play The Sisters Rosensweig Winner
1989 Actress in a Play Born Yesterday Nominee
1978 Actress in a Musical On the Twentieth Century Nominee
1974 Actress in a Play Boom Boom Room Nominee
 
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