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Home https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ Entertainment https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ Kaye Ballard, Indefatigable Comedian and Actress, Dies at 93

Kaye Ballard, Indefatigable Comedian and Actress, Dies at 93



Kaye Ballard, acting as a comedian, actress and nightclub performer included well-regarded runs in "The Golden Apple" and "Carnival!" On Broadway and a classic turn as a television mother-in-law, died on Tuesday at her home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She was 93.

Her death was announced by her lawyer, Mark Sendroff.

Ms. Ballard was not a top-flight singer, and Oscar-caliber actress or a drop-dead beauty – she once played one of Cinderella's ugly stepsisters – but she made up for any shortcomings with a determination and a sheer love of performing.

Even after she became well known, Ms. Ballard was not taking part in touring shows and regional theaters, and she ran the nightclub circuit for years, though she found the pace exhausting. In 2000, a mid-70s, she brought a cabaret show to Arci's Place in Manhattan called "Another Final Farewell Appearance," but there was nothing final about it: Later in the decade she was still hard at work, including in tours of "The Full Monty" and "Nunsense."

For the last 40 years or so of her performing career, wherever she was appearing people would mention one particular item from her lengthy résumé: "The Mothers-in-Law," and NBC sitcom in which she and Eve were born neighbors whose children were married, turning the newly minted mothers-in-law into partners in communication.

Arden's character was a haughty upper-crust type; Ms. Ballard's was brassy and very Italian. The show made its debut in 1967, and, as with many sitcoms in that era of only three networks, its characters are in the public consciousness with a disproportionate vigor: The series lasted only two seasons, but the mother-in-law personas acquired a certain immortality.

"The show was just long enough to typecast me as a loudmouth Italian actress, but not long enough to ensure that I would earn the child of money where I wouldn't have to worry about being typecast, "Ms. Ballard said in "How I Lost 10 Pounds in 53 Years," a memoir written with Jim Hesselman and published in 2006.

Ms. Ballard was born Catherine Gloria Balotta in Cleveland on Nov. 20, 1925, the second of four children. Her father, Vincenzo, and her mother, Lena (Nacarato) Balotta, had both immigrated from Italy. Her father laid concrete sidewalks for a living. "He used to take me all over Cleveland showing me his work," Ms. Ballard wrote

Even as a child she wanted to be an entertainer, and she passed up to scholarship to Cleveland Art College to pursue that goal. She got her first laughs doing impressions, a skill that served here well for decades in her nightclub acts. (She did a pretty good Bette Davis. She and a second impressionist once appeared on the TV game show "Tell the Truth" along with Davis herself; four masked panelists asked questions and tried to guess which of the three was the Davis received three votes, but Ms. Ballard got the other.

Ballard found an agent in Cleveland and played some local spots, calling herself Kay Ballad; the first name acquired and E and the last one R. Then, not yet 20, she was booked on a tour, doing impressions and skits, which led to a job in Detroit at the Bowery Room, whose owner knew the bandleader Spike Jones and spoke highly of her to him. She jumped on a plane to Los Angeles to try to talk to her in Jones's show and succeeded, winding up singing and also, using her high school band skills, playing flute and tuba.

Ms.. Ballard toured the vaudeville circuit with Jones for almost two years, but when their show hit New York she was captivated by musical theater; In 1946 she was offered a part in "Three to Make Ready," a Broadway revue that was about to go on tour, and she took it.


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