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Madeline Kahn Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (1)  | Trivia (19)  | Personal Quotes (5)

Overview (4)

Born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, USA
Died in New 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 of Russian Jewish descent on September 29, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts, to Freda Goldberg (later known as Paula Kahn), who was still in her teens, and Bernard B. Wolfson, a garment manufacturer. She 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.

Kahn's best-known work 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). Kahn was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in both movies. In 1998, she lent her voice to the character of "Gypsy" in A Bug's Life (1998).

On December 3, 1999, Madeline Kahn died of ovarian cancer in New York City, after a yearlong or so battle, during part of which time she was a cast member of Cosby (1996), aged 57.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson

Family (3)

Spouse John Hansbury (10 October 1999 - 3 December 1999)  (her death)
Children None
Parents Wolfson, Bernard B
Kahn, Hiller

Trade Mark (1)

Often appeared in Mel Brooks films

Trivia (19)

Operatically trained singer.
Daughter of Paula Kahn (born Freda Goldberg) and Bernard Wolfson (both Ashkenazi Jews). Wife of John Hansbury. Older half-sister of Jeffrey Kahn and Robyn Kahn. Aunt of Eliza Kahn. Madeline Kahn's 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, and divorced when she was two years old.
Graduated 3rd in her class in 1960 from Martin Van Buren High School in Queens, New York (where she was raised) and from Hofstra University (which she attended on a drama scholarship). Held a degree in speech therapy and reportedly initially intended to become a teacher.
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 improvised the now infamous "flames, flames on the side of my face.." speech in Clue (1985).
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.
Moved to New York with her mother, who wanted to pursue a singing career, when she was around 5 years old. Attended the Manumit School in New York from 1948 to 1953.
Kahn was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Trixie Delight in Paper Moon (1973).
She joined a 6-person comedy revue at the nightclub "Upstairs at the Downstairs".
She graduated from Hofstra on a Drama Scholarship and received an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from Boston Conservatory.
Was friends with, among others, Bill Cosby, and Audra McDonald.
She won a People's Choice Award for her television series, "Oh Madeleine", and a 1987 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in Children's Programming for ABC Afterschool Specials: Wanted: The Perfect Guy (1986). She won Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Circle awards in 1993 for her performance in "The Sisters Rosensweig". She had three other Tony nominations: "In the Boom, Boom Room" (1974), "On the Twentieth Century" (1978), and "Born Yesterday" (1989).
She has appeared in three films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein (1974) and The Muppet Movie (1979).
Her last appearance was on a talk show when, having terminal cancer and with no small degree of irony, she sang the number from "Blazing Saddles," "I'm So Tired".

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.
I was petrified of Barbra Streisand when I did What's Up, Doc? (1972). 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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