Madeline Kahn Poster


Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (28) | Personal Quotes (5)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 29 September 1942Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Date of Death 3 December 1999New York City, New York, USA  (ovarian cancer)
Birth NameMadeline Gail Wolfson
Height 5' 3" (1.6 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Madeline Kahn was born Madeline Gail Wolfson on September 29, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts, to Freda (Goldberg) and Bernard B. Wolfson, a garment manufacturer. She was of Russian Jewish descent. Madeline began her acting career in high school and went on to university where she trained as an opera singer and starred in several campus productions, ultimately earning a doctorate in her chosen field. Her finest years came in Paper Moon (1973) with Ryan O'Neal, which was followed the next year by Mel Brooks's outrageous Blazing Saddles (1974) as Lili Von Shtupp, a cabaret singer who was obviously based on Marlene Dietrich's performance in Destry Rides Again (1939). She was so delightful in both that Madeline was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in both movies. In 1998, Madeline lent her voice to Gypsy in the wildly popular animated film A Bug's Life (1998). Tragically, on December 3, 1999, Madeline died of ovarian cancer in New York City, a disease from which she suffered for about a year while she was a cast member of Cosby (1996). The accomplished stage and screen actress was only 57 years old.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson

Spouse (1)

John Hansbury (10 October 1999 - 3 December 1999) (her death)

Trade Mark (4)

Often appeared in Mel Brooks films
Red hair and brown eyes
Voluptuous figure
Deep sultry voice

Trivia (28)

Operatically trained singer.
Daughter of Paula Kahn.
Sister of Jeffrey Kahn.
Aunt of Eliza Kahn.
Father's name is Bernard Wolfson.
Has a half sister named Robyn.
Graduated from Hofstra University on a drama scholarship.
Graduated from Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village, New York (1960).
Her performance as Lili von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles (1974) is ranked #74 on Premiere magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
According to Mel Brooks, she was--contrary to her screen image--quite shy and reserved in real life.
Nominated for the 1974 Tony Award (New York City) for Actress in a Drama for "Boom Boom Room".
Nominated for the 1978 Tony Award (New York City) for Actress in a Musical for "On the Twentieth Century".
Nominated for the 1989 Tony Award (New York City) for Actress in a Play/Comedy for "Born Yesterday".
Won the 1993 Tony Award (New York City) for Actress in a Drama for "The Sisters Rosensweig".
She was from an Ashkenazi Jewish family.
She improvised the now infamous "flames, flames on the side of my face.." speech in Clue.
Starred in the original Broadway production of 'On the Twentieth Century' in 1978 but departed from the show after 9 weeks due to damage to her vocal cords.
Her mother was 18 and her father was 20 when she was born. The couple had been married for a little over a year before she was born.
Her parents divorced when she was two years old.
Held a degree in speech therapy and intended to become a teacher.
Went to the Manumit school in New York from 1948 to 1953.
Graduate 3rd in her class at Martin Van Buren High School in 1960.
Moved to New York with her mother, who wanted to pursue a singing career, when she was around 5 years old.
Remained skeptical about the idea of marriage due to her parent's divorce.
She was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Trixie Delight in Paper Moon (1973).
Was an intensely private woman in real life.
Grew up in Queens, New York.
She joined a 6-person comedy revue at the nightclub "Upstairs at the Downstairs".

Personal Quotes (5)

Actually, I hold a degree in speech therapy. I was going to get my doctorate but acting got in the way. Pity, I always thought I'd like to do something dignified.
Mel Brooks is sensual with me. He treats me like an uncle - a dirty uncle. He's an earthly man and very moral underneath. He has traditional values.
It's acceptable for men to act the fool. When women try, they're considered aggressive and opinionated.
[on What's Up, Doc? (1972)] I was petrified of Barbra Streisand when I did "What's Up, Doc?". It was my first movie and every single thing about it was new. I was petrified of the palm trees!
In Hollywood I thought I was large and klutzy, like the characters I played. I never acted kooky, but I did fill a time slot slated for a woman who was expected to display interesting neurotic behavior.

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