Grandma Lee

Frances Lee Strong[1] (née Myers; May 29, 1934[2] – April 24, 2020), better known by her stage name Grandma Lee, was an American stand-up comedian who was a talent show contestant on America's Got Talent in 2009. She began performing when she was in her 60s and became known for her off-color humor.[3]

Grandma Lee
Grandma Lee America's Got Talent.jpg
Grandma Lee performing in 2009
Birth nameFrances Lee Myers
Born(1934-05-29)May 29, 1934
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
DiedApril 24, 2020(2020-04-24) (aged 85)
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
MediumStand-up comedy
Alma materOtterbein University
Years active1997–2020
Spouse
Ben Strong
(m. 1958; his death 1995)
Children4

Early lifeEdit

Frances Lee Myers was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma,[4][5][6] and grew up in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where her father was a college dean. After he died when she was 12, the family fell apart, and she eventually landed in a children's home in Kentucky.[7] In 1956, she graduated with a degree in English education from Otterbein University in Ohio.[8][9]

CareerEdit

After college in 1958, Myers married a career U.S. Marine, Ben Strong.[8] The couple moved around the world as he fulfilled his military duties, raising four children.[10] She taught for a semester before realizing the profession was not for her.[4] While living in Cleveland in the late 1950s, she worked as a newspaper reporter at the Cleveland Press.[6][9]

Lee Strong and her husband were living in Homestead, Florida, in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew destroyed their home. They moved to Jacksonville, where Ben died of cancer in 1995. They had been married for 37 years. Strong later took a buyout from BellSouth, where she was working as a phone operator.[10]

Strong began doing stand-up comedy in 1997,[9] performing at open mic nights at The Comedy Zone in Jacksonville.[11] In Tampa in 2004, she reached the final rounds of auditions for Last Comic Standing.[12][13]

In 2009, Strong rose to prominence as a contestant on the fourth season of the reality series America's Got Talent, when she advanced to the final round.[14][15] She amused audiences with her distinctive raunchy Southern humor. She also flirted with judges Piers Morgan and David Hasselhoff.[15] One of ten finalists, Strong was not selected for the final five during the two-hour finale.[16] She told People, "[My] material is based on the truth. I go up there and wing it… but I had to clean it up for the show. I won’t say a cuss word or anything to jeopardize [myself]. I can do clean or edgy."[17]

DeathEdit

Strong died at age 85 on April 24, 2020, at an assisted living facility in Jacksonville.[18][19]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^
    • "Senior Moments". Tampa Bay Times. June 3, 2010. Retrieved April 25, 2020. Potty-mouthed Frances Lee Strong made a name for herself on America's Got Talent last year zinging raunchy jokes about judge Piers Morgan and has since done standup comedy around the nation.
    • "Obituary for Kevin Ray Strong at Teahen Funeral Home". www.teahenfuneralhome.com. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  2. ^ Katsilometes, John (May 4, 2010). "Closing in on 76, Grandma Lee is speaking the universal language". Las Vegas Sun. Archived from the original on March 21, 2018. Retrieved April 21, 2011.
  3. ^ Nunez, Mike (November 16, 2016). "Like the reality show, Grandma Lee's 'Got Talent'". Florida Today. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Kennedy, Patti (Winter 1998). "Frances Lee Myers Strong '56 comes to the comedy spotlight late in life". Towers. Office of College Relation of Otterbein College. pp. 10–11. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  5. ^ "Grandma Lee". NBC.com. Archived from the original on September 8, 2009.
  6. ^ a b Silverman, Sandy (May 10, 2010). "It is Never Too Late to Live Your Dream!". VegasNewsChannel.com. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  7. ^ Sickler, Linda (October 1, 2015). "Forget baking cookies or watching the kids, Grandma Lee is here to make you laugh". Savannah Morning News. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  8. ^ a b Harrington, Jeana (Fall 2009). "This Grandma's Wit and Verve has taken her to the Big Time". Towers. Office of Marketing & Communications of Otterbein College. p. 27. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Maile, Kelly (July 2, 2015). "Grandma Lee to bring the humor". Kent Record-Courier. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Bull, Roger (September 1, 2009). "Jacksonville's Grandma Lee shows she's 'Got Talent' — tonight on NBC". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  11. ^ Crumpler, David (November 20, 2012). "Jacksonville comedian Grandma Lee to perform at The Comedy Zone". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  12. ^ "Princess Superstar, The Audition, Jay Anthony and more". Orlando Weekly. December 15, 2005. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  13. ^ Belcher, Walter. "Comics Wait Hours For Shot at 15 Minutes". The Tampa Tribune. METRO-6. Retrieved April 25, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ Harris, Vincent (March 7, 2018). "At 83, Grandma Lee Keeps Her Comedy Sharp". Free Times. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  15. ^ a b Davis, Dillon (March 30, 2015). "'America's Got Talent' finalist Grandma Lee draws hearty laughs during Muskegon performance". MLive.com. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  16. ^ Bull, Roger (September 17, 2009). "Grandma Lee loses on 'America's Got Talent'". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  17. ^ "Will comedian Grandma Lee win America's Got Talent?". Punchline. September 3, 2009. Archived from the original on January 25, 2010. Retrieved August 14, 2010.
  18. ^ "'AGT' Star and Comedian Grandma Lee Dead at 85". TMZ. April 24, 2020. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  19. ^ Mier, Tomas (April 24, 2020). "America's Got Talent Finalist Grandma Lee Dies at 85: 'Heaven Just Got a Whole Lot Funnier'". People. Retrieved April 25, 2020.