Frances Evelyn Bay (née Goffman; January 23, 1919 – September 15, 2011) was a Canadian-American character actress and comedian.[2] In a career that spanned 35 years, she acted in a variety of roles both in film and television. Bay was inducted in Canada's Walk of Fame in 2008.

Frances Bay
Frances bay.jpg
Frances Bay in 1999
Frances Evelyn Goffman

(1919-01-23)January 23, 1919
DiedSeptember 15, 2011(2011-09-15) (aged 92)
Resting placeMount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery
Occupation(s)Actress, comedian
Years active1930s–2011
EmployerCanadian Broadcasting Corporation
Charles Bay
(m. 1946; died 2002)

Early lifeEdit

Frances Evelyn Goffman was born January 23, 1919, in Mannville, Alberta, to Ukrainian Jewish immigrant parents, Ann (née Averbach) and Max Goffman, and was raised in Dauphin, Manitoba. Her younger brother was the noted sociologist Erving Goffman. Before World War II she acted professionally in Winnipeg and spent the war hosting the Canadian Broadcasting Company's radio show, Everybody's Program, aimed at service members overseas.[1]

She married Charles Irwin Bay (December 15, 1918 – June 18, 2002) in 1946, and moved to Cape Town, South Africa, living in the Constantia and Camps Bay areas. She studied with Uta Hagen at this time.[3] Charles and Frances Bay had one son, Josh (Eli Joshua; March 14, 1947 – June 6, 1970), who died at the age of 23.[citation needed]


Bay started her career in the 1930s as a radio actress.[4]

Bay returned to acting in the 1970s,[4] appearing in television and film roles until 1976 while in her mid-50s, beginning with a small part in Foul Play, a 1978 comedy starring Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. A year earlier, she appeared as Mrs. Hamilton in the Christmas television special Christmastime with Mister Rogers. In 1990, she appeared in the episode "When I'm 64" of the TV series ALF as the faded movie star Louise Beaumont residing in a retirement home.

Bay's first major television appearance occurred playing the grandmother to the character of Fonzie on Happy Days. She described Henry Winkler, who played Fonzie, as "just a sweet guy. He lost his own grandmother in the Holocaust, and he wrote me a letter saying I was his virtual grandmother".[3]

In 1983, she played the grandmother in Little Red Riding Hood in Faerie Tale Theatre for Showtime. She appeared in the final episodes of two long-running sitcom series: Happy Days, and Who's the Boss?[5] Bay played Cousin Winifred in the fourth to last episode of Road to Avonlea, a role for which she won a Gemini Award. Bay's feature film work includes small roles in films like The Karate Kid (1984), Movers & Shakers (1985), Big Top Pee-wee (1988), Twins (1988), The Grifters (1990), The Pit and the Pendulum (1991).[5]

In 1986, Bay appeared as the doddery aunt of Kyle MacLachlan's character in David Lynch's Blue Velvet. Lynch cast her in several subsequent works, including as a foul-mouthed madam in Wild at Heart, and as Mrs. Tremond on Twin Peaks and its feature film prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.[5]

In 1994, she played Mrs. Pickman in John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness. In 1996, she played Adam Sandler's grandmother in the feature film Happy Gilmore. In 1999, she played Thelma, the head security guard at the Bradford robotics laboratory in the film Inspector Gadget. Bay's other roles included a supporting role in "The Rye", a notable 1996 episode of Seinfeld in which she played a woman who got into a physical altercation with Jerry over a loaf of marble rye bread.[5]

Bay appeared in the 2002 music video for Jimmy Fallon's comedy song "Idiot Boyfriend".[6] In 2005, she reunited with her The Pit and the Pendulum director Stuart Gordon to play a fortune teller in Edmond. From 2009 to 2011, Bay had a recurring role as "Aunt Ginny" on the television series The Middle. Her character was subsequently written out of the show after her death in September 2011, and the death was addressed in the episode "The Map".[5][citation needed] She also worked in theatre, winning both the Drama-Logue Award and Gemini Award.[4][2]

Bay was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame on September 6, 2008,[7] in large part thanks to a petition with 10,000 names which was submitted on her behalf. The selection committee also received personal letters from Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, David Lynch, Henry Winkler, Monty Hall, and other celebrities.[8][3]

Personal life and deathEdit

In 2002, Bay was involved in an auto accident in Glendale, California, which required her to have her leg amputated below the knee.[5]

Bay died in Tarzana, California, on September 15, 2011, of complications from pneumonia at the age of 92.[citation needed]



Year Title Role Notes
1978 Foul Play Mrs. Russel
1979 Chilly Scenes of Winter Mrs. Delillo
1980 The Attic The Librarian
1981 Amy Mrs. Lindey
1981 Honky Tonk Freeway Mrs. Lewenowski
1983 Private School Birdie Fallmouth
1984 The Karate Kid Mrs. Milo
1985 Movers & Shakers Betty Gritz
1986 Nomads Bertril
1986 Blue Velvet Aunt Barbara
1987 Medium Rare Gertrude
1988 Twins Mother Superior
1988 Big Top Pee-wee Mrs. Haynes
1989 The Karate Kid Part III Mrs. Milo
1990 Arachnophobia Evelyn Metcalf
1991 The Pit and the Pendulum Esmeralda
1991 Critters 3 Mrs. Menges
1992 Single White Female Elderly Neighbor
1992 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me Mrs. Tremond / Mrs. Chalfont
1993 The Neighbor Aunt Sylvia
1994 The Paperboy Mrs. Rosemont
1994 In the Mouth of Madness Mrs. Pickman
1996 Happy Gilmore Grandma Gilmore
1996 Never Too Late Elisabeth Kronner
1997 Changing Habits Midge
1997 Sparkler Raspy
1997 Mitzi & Joe Mitzi
1998 Krippendorf's Tribe Edith Proxmire
1999 Inspector Gadget Thelma
2000 The Operator Mrs. Sloan
2000 Stranger Than Fiction Mrs. Steiner
2000 A Day in the Life Rosa
2001 The Wedding Planner Dottie
2001 Finder's Fee Mrs. Damsetter
2002 Kiss the Bride Grandma Julia
2004 In the Land of Milk and Money Grandma Shallot
2009 Repo Chick Grandma De La Chasse
2010 Pickin' & Grinnin Grandma Johnson
2010 Bare Knuckles Rosie Mcintyre


Year Title Role Notes
1977 CHiPs Ruth Episode: "Name Your Price"
1979 ABC Weekend Special Madame Zarona Episode: "The Big Hex of Little Lulu"
1979 Topper Mrs. Quincy TV film
1981 The Jeffersons Mrs. Watson Episode: "My Hero"
1981 The Dukes of Hazzard Aunt Hortense Episode: "The Return of Hughie Hogg"
1981 Murder in Texas Myra Hill TV film
1981 Callie & Son Mabel Simpson TV film
1982 Father Murphy Alma Hubbard Episode: "88 Keys to Happiness"
1982, 1984 Happy Days Grandma Nussbaum Episodes: "Grandma Nussbaum", "Going Steady", "Passages: Part 2"
1983 American Playhouse Mrs. Timmins Episode: "Wings"
1983 Faerie Tale Theatre Granny Episode: "Little Red Riding Hood"
1983 Remington Steele Mother Trust Episode: "Scene Steelers"
1984 Alice Granny Annie Episode: "Mel Spins His Wheels"
1984 Family Ties Florence Menlo Episode: "Keaton and Son"
1984 E/R Mrs. Gordon Episode: "A Cold Night in Chicago"
1984 The President of Love Herbina Plum TV film
1985 Cagney & Lacey Edna Kiss Episode: "Violation"
1985 Fame Grandma George Episode: "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?"
1985 Amos Lydia TV film
1985 Amazing Stories Mrs. Santa Claus Episode: "Santa '85"
1985, 1990 Santa Barbara Mrs. McRae, Sister Gabriella Episodes: "1.357", "1.359", "1.1405"
1986 Cheers Mrs. Brubaker Episode: "Take My Shirt... Please?"
1986 T. J. Hooker Mrs. Greene Episode: "Taps for Officer Remy"
1986 Hill Street Blues Elizabeth Mies Episode: "Larry of Arabia"
1986 Easy Street Mrs. Walker Episode: "Pride Goeth Before a Cheap Hotel"
1986 Simon & Simon Agnes Rich Episode: "The Case of Don Diablo"
1986 Sidekicks Sarah Episode: "Grey Belts"
1987 LBJ: The Early Years Effie Pattilo TV film
1987 Convicted: A Mother's Story Ma Barker TV film
1987 St. Elsewhere Mrs. Renninger Episode: "Ewe Can't Go Home Again"
1987 The Oldest Rookie Mrs. Zimmer Episode: "Ike and Son"
1988 The Golden Girls Claire Episode: "The Days and Nights of Sophia Petrillo"
1988 Police Story: Monster Manor Mary TV film
1988, 1991 Hunter Emma Parsons, Mrs. Laskey Episodes: "The Bogota Million", "Fatal Obsession: Parts 1 & 2"
1989 The Cavanaughs Widow Kelsey Episode: "The Cavanaugh Curse"
1989 Newhart Mrs. Henderson Episode: "Don't Worry Be Pregnant"
1989 Class Cruise Grandma TV film
1989 Dragnet Sadie McGuire Episode: "Where's Sadie?"
1989 Generations Emily Fober Episodes: "1.175", "1.176", "1.178"
1990 Alien Nation Mrs. Gillirue Episode: "Spirit of '95"
1990 ALF Louise Beaumont Episode: "When I'm 64"
1990 Equal Justice Florence Evans Episode: "Sugar Blues"
1990 Twin Peaks Mrs. Tremond Episode: "Coma"
1990 Over My Dead Body Sister Dempsey Episode: "Pilot"
1990 True Colors Aunt Sylvia Episode: "Occasional Wife"
1990 Tales from the Crypt Witch Episode: "Judy, You're Not Yourself Today"
1991 Pacific Station Celia Linder Episode: "A Man's Best Friend"
1991 Matlock Samantha Bergstrom, Rose Hayes Episodes: "The Trial: Part 2", "The Defense"
1991–1992 Life Goes On Eleanor, Sarah Episodes: "Arthur", "Love Letters"
1992 Grave Secrets: The Legacy of Hilltop Drive Iva Ruth McKinney TV film
1992 Quantum Leap Millie Reynolds Episode: "Moments to Live"
1992 Who's the Boss? Candy Episodes: "Savor the Veal: Parts 2 & 3"
1992 L.A. Law Marian McConnell Episode: "Silence of the Lambskins"
1992 Down the Shore Miss Suzette Episode: "My Left Feet"
1992–1993 By Way of the Stars Annie Pyle TV miniseries
1992–1993 Empty Nest Sylvia, Agnes Episodes: "Charley for President", "The Fracas in Vegas"
1993 Street Legal Patricia Peters Episode: "Pride and Prejudice"
1994 Phenom Mrs. Long Episode: "What's in a Vow?"
1994 Dave's World Daisy Episode: "Lost Weekend"
1994 The 5 Mrs. Buchanans Aunt Francine Episode: "Alex, Then and N.O.W."
1994 The X-Files Dorothy Episode: "Excelsis Dei"
1995 Platypus Man Bella Episode: "Sweet Denial"
1995 The Commish Ardith Cannon Episode: "Off Broadway: Part 2"
1995 The Ben Stiller Show Gertude Episode: "ZooTV at Night"
1995 The Crew Mrs. Henderson Episode: "The Sugar Shack"
1995 Murder, She Wrote Sarah McCoy Episode: "Home Care"
1995 Courthouse Kate Downey Episode: "Injustice for All"
1996 Road to Avonlea Winifred Ward Episode: "After the Ball Is Over"
1996 Rossini's Ghost Rosalie (elder) TV film
1996, 1998 Seinfeld Mabel, Mrs. Choate Episodes: "The Rye", "The Cadillac", "The Finale"
1997 Suddenly Susan Mrs. Tidgely Episode: "What a Card"
1997 Life with Roger Aunt Charlotte Episode: "The Boxer Rebellion"
1997 Players Mrs. Davis Episode: "Three of a Con"
1998 Clueless Opal Episode: "Friends"
1998 C-16: FBI Miss Wilson Episode: "The Art of War"
1998 Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Mildred Grayson Episode: "The Gift"
1998 Style & Substance Elizabeth Episode: "Chelsea's Ex"
1998 Forever Love Martha Craddock TV film
1998–2000 The Hughleys Mrs. Fitch Recurring role (seasons 1–2)
1999 The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn Mrs. Lewis TV film
1999 Da Vinci's Inquest Viola McKnight Episode: "A Nice Home in the Country"
2000 Port Charles Leah Cochrane Guest role
2001 ER Georgia Episode: "Witch Hunt"
2001 Bob Patterson Laurie Evans Episode: "Awards Bob"
2001 Bratty Babies Maggie Winchester TV film
2002 Charmed Phoebe Halliwell (old) Episode: "The Three Faces of Phoebe"
2002 Presidio Med Joan Hart Episode: "This Baby's Gonna Fly"
2006 Hannah Montana Cathy Episode: "Debt It Be"
2007 Cavemen Mrs. Winston Episode: "Pilot"
2009 Grey's Anatomy Aunt Joyce Episode: "Elevator Love Letter"
2009–2011 The Middle Ginny Freehold Recurring role (seasons 1–2)


  1. ^ a b Cavan, Sherri (July 2011). "When Erving Goffman was a Boy". University of Nevada, Las Vegas. p. 4.
  2. ^ a b Noland, Claire (September 16, 2011). "Character actress Frances Bay dies at 92". Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ a b c Michael Posner, "Seinfeld's marble rye lady honoured", Toronto Globe and Mail, September 6, 2008, pg. R4
  4. ^ a b c Zakarin, Jordan (September 18, 2011). "Frances Bay Dead: 'Happy Gilmore', 'Seinfeld' Actress Passes Away At 92". Huffington Post. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Oliver, Myrna (September 17, 2011). "Frances Bay dies at 92; veteran character actress", Los Angeles Times; accessed June 27, 2017.
  6. ^ Maslin Nir, Sarah (September 18, 2011). "Frances Bay, Actress Known for ‘Old Lady’ Roles, Dies at 92". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "Canada's Walk of Fame Inducts Frances Bay". Canada's Walk of Fame. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  8. ^ "Steve Nash, kd lang among new Walk of Fame inductees". CTV News. June 3, 2008. Archived from the original on June 4, 2008. Retrieved April 5, 2016.

External linksEdit