Kay Medford

Margaret Kathleen Regan[1] (born September 14, 1919 – April 10, 1980), better known as Kay Medford, was an American actress. For her performance as Rose Brice in the musical Funny Girl and the film adaptation of the same name, she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Kay Medford
Kay Medford 1963.JPG
Kay Medford in 1963
Margaret Kathleen Regan

(1919-09-14)September 14, 1919
New York City, U.S.
DiedApril 10, 1980(1980-04-10) (aged 60)
New York City, U.S.
Years active1942–1980

Early yearsEdit

Medford was born in 1919[2] in New York City to James and Mary Regan, first-generation Irish-American parents.[citation needed] Her mother had been an actress with a Shakesearean stock group in Connecticut.[3] She was orphaned in her teens. She adopted the name Kay Medford professionally, and began her career after graduating from high school and working as a nightclub waitress.


Medford began entertaining professionally by performing at summer resorts in the Catskill Mountains.[4] In 1949, she toured with a nightclub routine in which she did impersonations of Hollywood celebrities.[3]

Medford was the original Mama in Bye Bye Birdie on Broadway, garnering excellent reviews. Medford appeared in the Warner Bros. rock and roll film, Jamboree (1957).[citation needed] She made her Broadway debut in 1951 in the musical Paint Your Wagon.[5]

She was cast in Carousel, then appeared onstage in Funny Girl[5] as the mother of Fanny Brice (played by Barbra Streisand); for this performance she was nominated for a 1964 Tony Award for Featured Actress (Musical),[6] and when she repeated the role in the 1968 film adaptation, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Her many film credits included roles in A Face in the Crowd (1957), The Rat Race (1960), BUtterfield 8 (1960),[7] Girl of the Night (1960), Ensign Pulver (1964), A Fine Madness (1966), The Busy Body (1967), Angel in My Pocket (1969), Twinky (1969), But I Don't Want to Get Married! (1970), Fire Sale (1977), and Windows (1980).[citation needed]

On television, Medford portrayed Harriet Endicott on To Rome with Love,[8]:1089 Gloria's mother on That's Life,[8]:1066-1067 and Maria's mother on On Our Own,[8]:785 and was a member of the cast of The Dean Martin Show.[8] She also guest-starred on series, including Decoy, Marcus Welby, M.D.,The Partridge Family, and Barney Miller.


Medford never married and had no children. She died of cancer in New York City in 1980, aged 60.[9]

Partial filmographyEdit


  1. ^ Bolton, Whitney (June 21, 1957). "Poetry Ends in Practicality". News-Press. Florida, Fort Myers. p. 4. Retrieved July 17, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ Her year of birth had been misreported as 1914 and 1920 for many years.
  3. ^ a b "Actress Here in Film And Also in Person". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. June 16, 1949. p. 10. Retrieved July 17, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Wandering Gypsy Life Wasn't In Her Plans". The Pittsburgh Press. January 18, 1962. p. 21. Retrieved July 17, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ a b Kay Medford at the Internet Broadway Database
  6. ^ Stevenson, Isabelle; Somlyo, Roy A., eds. (2001). The Tony Award (revised ed.). Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. p. 50. ISBN 0-325-00294-0.
  7. ^ "BUTTERFIELD 8 (1960)". TCM.com. Turner Classic Movies (TCM). Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 245. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  9. ^ Obituary, The Sun Journal, April 11, 1980 (archived); accessed October 17, 2014.

External linksEdit