Kaye Ballard, the Broadway veteran known for her comedic roles on stage and screen, died at age 93 in Rancho Mirage, California.
Ballard recently attended the opening of a new documentary film about her life, which premiered earlier this month at the Palm Springs Film Festival. Showcasing the career of the musical comedy icon, Kaye Ballard: The Show Goes On features interviews with Ann-Margret, Michael Feinstein, Jerry Stiller, Ballard herself, and more, as well as highlights of archival footage from her decades of stardom.
Ballard was born Catherine Gloria Ballotta November 20, 1925, in Cleveland, Ohio.
In 1951, Ballard made her Broadway debut in Top Banana; in 1954 she starred in The Golden Apple, where she introduced the standard “Lazy Afternoon.” She then starred in the 1961 production of Carnival! before appearing in 1963’s The Beast in Me. She also starred in the title role in Molly in 1973 and last appeared on the Main Stem in 1981’s The Pirates of Penzance. In addition to her Broadway roles, Ballard was also known for her critically acclaimed nightclub acts.
She continued performing around the country as Matron Mama Morton in Chicago, Pauline in No, No, Nanette and her star turn as Hattie Walker in Paper Mill Playhouse’s all-star revival of Follies in 1998.
On television, she appeared in the 1957 television premiere of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, starring Julie Andrews. She was well known for her roles on The Mothers-in-Law and The Doris Day Show, as well as the films of Terrency McNally’s The Ritz and the Jodie Foster version of Freaky Friday. She also made appearances on Love, American Style; The Love Boat; and Alice.
She recorded My Life, in My Own Words, With My Own Mouth!, a four-CD memoir, in 2010.