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Lainie Kazan

Lainie Kazan

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Also Known As: Lanie Levine Died:
Born: May 15, 1940 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: singer, actor, nightclub owner

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Tall, high-energy nightclub chanteuse and actress who in the 1980s concentrated on a successful feature film and TV acting career. A little bit manic, sometimes sultry, typically frizzy-haired, Kazan received her big break, when, as Barbra Streisand's understudy in the Broadway musical "Funny Girl", she got to go on for one matinee and one evening performance. Her forceful singing and performing style received some notice, and within several years, Kazan had an album, a TV special, and several feature roles to her credit. She wasn't typical leading lady material and her films were largely unworthy of her; "Dayton's Devils" (1968), for instance, was distinguished largely by her rendition of "Sunny". For a number of years, she concentrated on her singing, and in the late 1970s, successfully opened cabarets, Lainie's Room and Lainie's Room East, in Los Angeles and New York, respectively.In 1980, Kazan began focusing on acting work. College classmate Francis Ford Coppola cast her in his unsuccessful "One from the Heart" (1982), but she had better luck as a classic Jewish mother in "My Favorite Year" (1982), a role she would dynamically reprise a decade later in the Lincoln Center stage musical version. A...

Tall, high-energy nightclub chanteuse and actress who in the 1980s concentrated on a successful feature film and TV acting career. A little bit manic, sometimes sultry, typically frizzy-haired, Kazan received her big break, when, as Barbra Streisand's understudy in the Broadway musical "Funny Girl", she got to go on for one matinee and one evening performance. Her forceful singing and performing style received some notice, and within several years, Kazan had an album, a TV special, and several feature roles to her credit. She wasn't typical leading lady material and her films were largely unworthy of her; "Dayton's Devils" (1968), for instance, was distinguished largely by her rendition of "Sunny". For a number of years, she concentrated on her singing, and in the late 1970s, successfully opened cabarets, Lainie's Room and Lainie's Room East, in Los Angeles and New York, respectively.

In 1980, Kazan began focusing on acting work. College classmate Francis Ford Coppola cast her in his unsuccessful "One from the Heart" (1982), but she had better luck as a classic Jewish mother in "My Favorite Year" (1982), a role she would dynamically reprise a decade later in the Lincoln Center stage musical version. A spirited camp, Kazan had little success with two tries at TV sitcom ("Tough Cookies" 1986, starring Robbie Benson; "Karen's Song" 1987, as Patty Duke's pal) but has done rather well as supportive chum and boisterous earth mother types in films ranging from the misfire Western spoof "Lust in the Dust" (1984) to the female bonding drama "Beaches" (1988), the Chuck Norris actioner "Delta Force" (1987) and the family comedies "Harry and the Hendersons" (1987) and "29th Street" (1991).

Kazan's career continued in that vein throughout the '90s with a succession of B-level movies and the occasional standout role, but in 2002 she appeared in the film that would likely define her late-life acting career, playing Nia Vardalos' food-pushing, marriage-minded, oh-so-traditional Greek mother Maria Portokalos in the unexpected smash hit comedy "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," a role that made the most of her comedic gifts playing pushy, domineering matriarchs who are nonetheless lovable and often wise. Kazan would reprise the role for the brief, troubled CBS sit-com spin-off "My Big Fat Greek Life" (2003) and appeared briefly as Ben Affleck's (you guessed it) mother in "Gigli" (2003).

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Expecting Mary (2010)
5.
 Bratz: The Movie (2007)
6.
 Whiskey School (2007)
7.
 Beau Jest (2006)
8.
9.
 Broadway: The Golden Age (2004) Herself
10.
 Good Night to Die, A (2003) Debra
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1961:
Made her Broadway debut in "The Happiest Girl in the World"
1964:
Served as understudy to Barbra Streisand in "Funny Girl"
1968:
Made feature film debut in "Lady in Cement"
1968:
Appeared in concert on the syndicated variety special, "The Lainie Kazan Show"
1968:
First leading role in a feature, "Dayton's Devils"
:
Made frequent appearances on "The Dean Martin Show"
1970:
Posed for the October issue of <i>Playboy</i> magazine
1976:
Opened Lainie's Room at the Los Angeles Playboy Club; also opened one in NY the following year
1982:
Returned to films after a decade long absence to co-star in Francis Ford Coppola's "One from the Heart"
1982:
Cast as Benjy's Jewish mother, Belle in "My Favorite Year"
1986:
Played Rita on the short-lived CBS sitcom, "Tough Cookies"
1987:
Earned an Emmy nomination for her guest role on NBC's hospital drama, "St. Elsewhere"
1988:
Cast as Bette Midler's overbearing stage mother in Garry Marshall's "Beaches"
1992:
Returned to Broadway to recreate her film role for the musical adaptation of "My Favorite Year"
1994:
Cast in the Broadway play, "The Government Inspector"
1995:
Had a recurring role on the CBS sitcom "The Nanny" as Fran's Aunt Freida
1997:
Played Veronica's (Kirstie Alley) mother on NBC's "Veronica's Closet"
2002:
Played the matriarch in the run-away box office hit "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"
2003:
Appeared in the box office flop "Gigli"
2008:
Cast in the Adam Sandler comedy "You Don't Mess with the Zohan"
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Education

Hofstra University: Hempstead , New York -

Notes

Received NARAS New Artist of the Year Award for her debut album in the late 1960s

Family close complete family listing

daughter:
Jennifer. Survived her.

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