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Jane Sperry Connell (pronounced con-NELL, née Bennett; October 27, 1925 – September 22, 2013)[1] was an American actress and singer.

Jane Connell
Jane Connell Cesar Romero Bewitched 1971.JPG
Connell as Hepzibah with Cesar Romero in Bewitched, 1971.
Born
Jane Sperry Bennett

(1925-10-27)October 27, 1925
DiedSeptember 22, 2013(2013-09-22) (aged 87)
OccupationActress, singer
Spouse(s)William Gordon Connell (1948-2013; her death); 2 children

Contents

Early yearsEdit

Connell was born in Berkeley, California,[1] to Louis Wesley and Mary (née Sperry) Bennett.[citation needed] She majored in drama at the University of California, where she met her future husband.[2]

CareerEdit

Connell began her career with her husband Gordon, entertaining in San Francisco night clubs such as The Purple Onion and The Hungry I. Eventually the couple moved to New York City, where Connell made her Off-Broadway debut in the 1955 revival of The Threepenny Opera, a long-running hit at the Theatre de Lys. In the London production of Once Upon a Mattress, Connell starred as Winifred, the role that Carol Burnett had originated in New York.[citation needed] Her Broadway debut came in the role of Mrs. Peachum in Threepenny Opera (1955).[1]

Connell's most prominent success came in 1966 when she was cast as Agnes Gooch in the original Broadway production of Jerry Herman's Mame. She recreated the role in the 1974 screen adaptation after Lucille Ball, the film's star, became dissatisfied with Madeline Kahn, who originally had been signed to play Gooch.[3]

Only four-foot-eleven, Connell was described as a master of the large comic gesture in The Oxford Companion to American Theatre, which described her as "a tiny woman with a giant, squeaking voice".[4]

Connell was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in Me and My Girl (1986).[5] Additional Broadway credits include New Faces of 1956 (1956); Drat! The Cat! (1965); Dear World (1969), once again supporting Angela Lansbury; the short-lived 1983 revival of Mame, in which Lansbury reprised her 1966 lead role; Lend Me a Tenor (1989); Crazy for You (1992); and Moon Over Buffalo (1995), starring Carol Burnett; The Full Monty (2000), succeeding Kathleen Freeman, who died during her run in show, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (2001).[1]

Jane and Gordon Connell enjoyed extensive theatre careers. They appeared together on Broadway in Lysistrata (November 1972), starring Melina Mercouri in the title role. She appeared in New York City Center Encores! production of Call Me Madam (February 1995), and the Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall concert presentation of Noël Coward's Sail Away (November 1999).

Jane Connell's film roles included Ladybug Ladybug (1963), Kotch (1971), Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976), House Calls (1978), Rabbit Test (1978), and Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde (1995). Her television appearances included Bewitched in a memorable turn imitating Queen Victoria (as Queen Hepzibah often uttering the phrase, "We are not amused." to comic effect), Green Acres, All in the Family, Love, American Style, M*A*S*H, Maude, Good Times and Law & Order.[citation needed]

Connell portrayed Jane in the comedy series Stanley (1956).[6]:1009 She was a regular on the children's series Mr. Mayor (1964)[6]:701 and the situation comedy The Dumplings.[6]:292 From 1991 to 1994, she had the recurring role of social worker Roberta Domedian on the sitcom Big Brother Jake.[6]

FamilyEdit

She married Gordon Connell, an actor and musician, in 1948. They remained married until her death in 2013. The couple had two daughters.[7]

DeathEdit

Jane Connell died on September 22, 2013, aged 87, at the Lillian Booth Actors Home of the Actors Fund in Englewood, New Jersey, from undisclosed causes.[8] She was survived by her husband (who died in 2016) and two daughters, Melissa and Maggie.[7]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d "Jane Connell". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  2. ^ Lewis, Emory (January 19, 1975). "The petite clown is a big success". The Record. New Jersey, Hackensack. p. B-17. Retrieved 19 April 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ Michael Karol (2004), Lucy A to Z: The Lucille Ball Encyclopedia, iUniverse, ISBN 978-0-595-29761-0
  4. ^ Jane Connell obituary in playbill.com Archived 2014-02-23 at the Wayback Machine; accessed December 11, 2013.
  5. ^ Albrecht, Ernest (May 31, 1987). "Nomination surprises Jane Connell, who'd like to go home with 'Tony'". The Central New Jersey Home News. New Jersey, New Brunswick. p. G 5. Retrieved 19 April 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ a b c d Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  7. ^ a b Jane Connell obituary, New York Times, September 26, 2013; accessed December 11, 2013.
  8. ^ Notice of death of Jane Connell, broadwayworld.com, September 23, 2013.

External linksEdit