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Kaye Ballard

Kaye Ballard

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Also Known As: Kay Ballard, Catherine Gloria Balotta Died:
Born: November 20, 1926 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Cleveland, Ohio, USA Profession: actor, comedian, writer, singer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Fleshy, smiling, ethnically-Italian-and-proud-of-it actress, singer and revue performer Kaye Ballard has divided her time between sitcoms, the stage and cabaret. She is particularly remembered as Kaye Buell, foil and compatriot of Eve Arden's Eve Hubbard on "The Mothers-in-Law" (NBC, 1967-69), a sitcom produced by Desi Arnaz in which the two wacky neighbors get into trouble each week a la Lucy and Ethel.Ballard made her performing debut in her native Cleveland at age 12 and three years later was singing at the local Stage Door Canteen. In 1943, Ballard was performing at The Bowery, a Detroit club, when she was "discovered" by bandleader Spike Jones, who took her on tour with his group until 1945. Ballard settled in New York and appeared in the revue "Three to Make Ready" (1946). She went to London in 1950 to perform in the revue "Touch and Go", but it was not until 1954 that she really solidified her status as a stage performer. That came with the musical "The Golden Apple", in which she was a zany Helen of Troy who introduced the song "Lazy Afternoon". More Broadway appearances and better clubs for her cabaret act followed. Eventually, Ballard was featured as the Incomparable Rosalie in "Carnival"...

Fleshy, smiling, ethnically-Italian-and-proud-of-it actress, singer and revue performer Kaye Ballard has divided her time between sitcoms, the stage and cabaret. She is particularly remembered as Kaye Buell, foil and compatriot of Eve Arden's Eve Hubbard on "The Mothers-in-Law" (NBC, 1967-69), a sitcom produced by Desi Arnaz in which the two wacky neighbors get into trouble each week a la Lucy and Ethel.

Ballard made her performing debut in her native Cleveland at age 12 and three years later was singing at the local Stage Door Canteen. In 1943, Ballard was performing at The Bowery, a Detroit club, when she was "discovered" by bandleader Spike Jones, who took her on tour with his group until 1945. Ballard settled in New York and appeared in the revue "Three to Make Ready" (1946). She went to London in 1950 to perform in the revue "Touch and Go", but it was not until 1954 that she really solidified her status as a stage performer. That came with the musical "The Golden Apple", in which she was a zany Helen of Troy who introduced the song "Lazy Afternoon". More Broadway appearances and better clubs for her cabaret act followed. Eventually, Ballard was featured as the Incomparable Rosalie in "Carnival" (1961), adapted from the film "Lili". In the early 70s, she starred as producer-radio/TV star Molly Goldberg in the short-lived musical "Molly" (1973) and played Lola in "Sheba" (1974), the musical version of William Inge's "Come Back, Little Sheba". She later succeeded Estelle Parsons as Ruth in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of "The Pirates of Penzance" (1981).

Hollywood beckoned in 1958 and Ballard made her film debut in "The Girl Most Likely", a weak Jane Powell vehicle at the very end of the reign of the movie musical. Ballard was the heroine's friend, a second lead, a comic addition. With the decline of the musical genre, it became clear that film work would not be her bread and butter. Still, Ballard was in the Polly Adler biographical film "A House Is Not a Home" (1964), teaching star Shelley Winters a thing or two. She was Jack Weston's overbearing wife in "The Ritz" (1976) and Jodie Foster's coach in "Freaky Friday" (1977).

TV work has been more fulfilling, providing Ballard with the chance not just to act, but to sing as well. She broke into the medium on an installment of "The Mel Torme Show" in 1951 and was a regular on "Henry Morgan's Great Talent Hunt" (NBC, 1951), "The Perry Como Show" (NBC, 1961-63) and "The Steve Allen Comedy Hour" (NBC, 1980-81) as a singer/comedienne. As a comic actress, she spent a season as Doris Day's restaurateur/neighbor on "The Doris Day Show" (CBS, 1970-71) and was an off-beat psychic in the syndicated "What a Dummy!" (1990-91). The latter was created by Leslie Eberhard who had written cabaret material for Ballard for many years. Occasionally, Ballard has played in TV dramas, although often as the pepper-up-the-scene character. She was Vincent Gardenia's wife watching him turn into a movie mogul in "The Dream Merchant" (syndicated, 1980) and the owner of an Italian restaurant in the two-hour TV-movie/pilot of "Due South" (CBS, 1994).

Throughout it all, Ballard has continued to perform in cabarets and clubs, headlining some of the most prestigious rooms in the country, including two years (1975-76) at the Persian Room at Manhattan's Plaza Hotel, Mister Kelly's in Chicago, and others. She has also performed her one-person show, "Hey Ma...Kaye Ballard" off-Broadway and in various venues around the country and has been a frequent guest on talk shows with more than 150 appearances on "The Tonight Show" alone.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Broadway: The Golden Age (2004) Herself
3.
 Baby Geniuses (1999) Mayor
4.
 Due South (1994) Mrs Vecchio
5.
 Joey Takes a Cab (1991) Gina
6.
 Modern Love (1990) Receptionist
7.
 Eternity (1990) Selma/Sabrina
8.
 Fate (1989) Judy
9.
 Tiger Warsaw (1988) Aunt Thelma
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1941:
Made stage debut in "Stage Door Canteen" in Cleveland, OH
:
Appeared on vaudeville circuit with Spike Jones
1946:
Made Broadway debut in revue "Three to Make Ready"
1950:
Made London debut in revue "Touch and Go"
1951:
Appeared on TV for first time on "The Mel Torme Show" (CBS)
1954:
Regularly appeared on "The Colgate Comedy Hour" (NBC)
1958:
Made film debut in "The Girl Most Likely"
1967:
Starred with Eve Arden as "The Mothers-in-Law" (NBC)
1970:
Joined the cast of "The Doris Day Show" (CBS)
1973:
Played title role of Molly Goldberg in "Molly" on Broadway
1974:
Had lead role in the stage musical "Sheba", based on "Come Back, Little Sheba"
1980:
Appeared on "The Steve Allen Comedy Hour"
1980:
Appeared in miniseries "The Dream Merchants"
1984:
First performed one-woman show, "Hey Ma ... Kaye Ballard"
1990:
Cast as a regular on syndicated sitcom "What a Dummy"
1998:
Appeared in an all-star revival of the Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman musical "Follies" at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey
1999:
Acted in the off-Broadway play "Over the River and Through the Woods"
1999:
Cast as the Mayor in "Baby Geniuses"
2000:
Cast in the family feature "The Million Dollar Kid"
2001:
Played the pianist in the national tour of the stage musical "The Full Monty"
2003:
Featured in the documentary "Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There"
2011:
Appeared in the documentary feature "Troupers"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

In the 1950s, Ballard was involved with the development of a musical based on the life of Fanny Brice. Eventually it was developed as "Funny Girl". Ballard even recorded an album of songs made famous by Brice.

"I'm not going to retire. I don't believe in retiring. I do take more time off now to enjoy life and my three dogs and house. But if something wonderful comes up, I'm ready." --Kay Ballared quoted by the Associated Press, June 30, 1999

Family close complete family listing

father:
Vincent Balotta.
mother:
Lena Balotta.

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