Born in Portland, Maine to a musically-inclined family (her mother was once an opera singer) and on stage from the age of 5, singer/actress Linda Lavin graduated from The College of William and Mary with a theatre degree. She pounded the New York pavements in the early 1960s searching for work following some stock roles in New Jersey, and gradually made a dent within the New York musical comedy scene with roles in "Oh, Kay!" (1960), "A Family Affair," (1962), "It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman" (1966) (her standout number was "You've Got Possibilities") and "On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever" (1966). She also won kudos for her straight acting roles in "Little Murders" (1969 Drama Desk award) and "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" (1969 Tony nomination). A one-time member of Paul Sills' Compass Players comedy troupe back in the late 1950s, she served as a replacement in Sills' "Story Theatre" Broadway production in 1971.
Television beckoned in the 1970s and utilized her singing talents in a small-screen version of Damn Yankees! (1967) (TV) starring Phil Silvers and Lee Remick. After a one-season false start as Detective Janice Wentworth on the sitcom "Barney Miller" (1974), it did not take long for the talented lady to become a household name in another. As the titular waitress/mother in the sitcom "Alice" (1976), based on the award-winning film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) starring Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn, Lavin won deserved stardom. During the nine seasons (1976-1985) the show was on the air, she nabbed two Golden Globe awards and an Emmy nomination. Ever the singer, she even warbled "There's a New Girl in Town" over the opening credits of the show to the delight of her fans.
Following this success, Linda lavished her attentions once again on the stage. She earned renewed respect, in addition to several critic's awards, for her diversified Broadway work in "Broadway Bound" (1987 Tony award), "Death Defying Acts" (1995 Obie award), "The Diary of Anne Frank" (1998 Tony nomination: as the high-strung Mrs. Van Daan) and "Tales of the Allergist Wife" (2000 Tony nomination). More recently, she appeared in Carol Burnett's autobiographical play "Hollywood Arms" (2002) portraying Burnett's grandmother. The piece was co-written by Burnett's late daughter, Carrie Hamilton. Linda received excellent reviews the first time around for her stage work in "Collected Stories" (2000). She later appeared in a PBS-TV version of Collected Stories (2002) (TV) and in 2010 revived it on Broadway, earning a Tony nomination for her efforts. She has also occasionally directed for the stage.
Linda was married and divorced twice to actors -- Ron Leibman and Kip Niven -- and in 2005 married her third husband, actor Steve Bakunas, who is also an artist and musician. Since her "Alice" heyday, the actress has again found series work, albeit the short-lived "Room for Two" (1992) and "Conrad Bloom" (1998). She has also been seen in penetrating guest parts on such established series as "The Sopranos", "Law & Order" and "The O.C." (recurring).
|Steve Bakunas||(14 February 2005 - present)|
|Kip Niven||(22 August 1982 - 2 July 1992) (divorced)|
|Ron Leibman||(7 September 1969 - 4 August 1981) (divorced)|
Awarded a 1987 Tony for lead actress in the play "Broadway Bound."
Teaches master classes at NYU's Undergraduate Performing Arts Division.
Won Broadway's 1987 Tony Award as Best Actress (Play) for "Broadway Bound." She was also nominated for Tonys three other times: in 1970, as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic) for "Last of the Red Hot Lovers;" in1998, as Best Actress (Featured Role - Play) for a revival of "The Diary of Anne Frank," and in 2001, as Best Actress (Play) for "The Tale of an Allergist's Wife."
Best remembered by the public for her starring role in "Alice" (1976).
Graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1959.
Married actor/drummer Steve Bakunas in 2005 after they met during the 2002 run of the Broadway play "Hollywood Arms". They established a residence in Wilmington, North Carolina, and there converted a garage into the Red Barn Theatre which they co-run. She has appeared there in such productions as "Doubt," "Collected Stories," "Driving Miss Daisy" and "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife".
You must tap into your own fears and pains and anxieties. And you remember. Dreams come up and nightmares come up. Once you get the understanding of the feelings, you describe them with behavior. That's how I work. I don't speak for anyone else.
I discovered that the character of 'Alice' represented 80% of the working women in this country, the blue collar and pink collar women. Hundreds of women have come up to me and said, 'It was because of watching "Alice" that I could get through another day with the baby in a high chair. I knew if SHE could do it, I could do it. I could go back to school, I could get off welfare, I could change my life.'
Bea Arthur is the only true artist of the 20th century.
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