Lainie Kazan (born Lainie Levine; May 15, 1940) is an American actress and singer. She was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for St. Elsewhere and the 1993 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for My Favorite Year. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her role in My Favorite Year (1982). Kazan played Maria Portokalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and its sequel film My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.
May 15, 1940
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||Hofstra University|
Peter H. B. Daniels
Kazan was born Lainie Levine in Brooklyn as the daughter of Carole (née Kazan) and Benjamin Levine. Carole was of Sephardic Jewish extraction from Spain and Turkey; the family moved to Jerusalem. Benjamin, who was of Russian-Jewish descent, worked as a gambling bookmaker. Kazan has described her mother as "neurotic, fragile and artistic." Kazan attended Brooklyn's Erasmus Hall High School with Barbra Streisand, for whom she would later understudy. She graduated in 1956. Kazan studied theatre at HB Studio and graduated from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York in 1960. While at Hofstra, Kazan appeared in school musicals written and directed by a classmate director Francis Ford Coppola as well as actor James Caan.
Kazan made her Broadway debut in 1961 with the musical The Happiest Girl in the World. She appeared the following year in another musical, Bravo Giovanni, and understudied Barbra Streisand for the lead role of Fanny Brice in Funny Girl (1964). When Streisand could not perform due to a throat condition, Kazan took her place in a matinee and evening performance for one day of the show's run. Her popularity increasing, Kazan posed nude for the October 1970 issue of Playboy, which was reused in Pocket Playboy #4, issued in 1974. Her appearance in the magazine opened the door for her to headline and operate two different Playboy Jazz Clubs. Overseen by Hugh Hefner, the clubs were named Lainie's Room West and Lainie's Room East, each on opposite coasts, with the first one located in Los Angeles and the other in Manhattan. Her Playboy photographs inspired the look of Jack Kirby’s superheroine Big Barda.
Along with appearing in numerous supper clubs across the country, Kazan guest-starred on Dean Martin’s variety series 26 times. Other television work includes a recurring role as Aunt Frieda on the Fran Drescher sitcom The Nanny, the mother of Kirstie Alley's character on Veronica's Closet, and various guest roles, including one on St. Elsewhere that resulted in an Emmy nomination. Her other television work has included The Paper Chase, Columbo, Touched by an Angel, and Will & Grace.
Kazan played Maria Portokalos, the mother of Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) in the films My Big Fat Greek Wedding and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. Following the first film in the franchise, Kazan was featured in My Big Fat Greek Life, a short-lived series based on the film. Other recent film work includes the mother of Adam Sandler’s character in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Although the scene was deleted in the feature film, it is included on the DVD in the special features section. Kazan appeared as singer Ava St. Clair with Kevin James in two episodes of The King of Queens.
A life member of The Actors Studio, Kazan returned to Broadway to recreate her film role for the musical adaptation of My Favorite Year, earning a Tony Award nomination for her performance. She completed a stint in The Vagina Monologues. She has appeared in regional productions of A Little Night Music, Man of La Mancha, Gypsy, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Hello, Dolly!, and Fiddler on the Roof. In 1984, she made a guest appearance on the Faerie Tale Theatre episode “Pinocchio” as Sophia the Blue Fairy.
In the Ugly Betty episode "Fire and Nice," Kazan played Dina Talercio, the mother of Bobby (Adam Rodriguez), who becomes the character's brother-in-law. In 2010, Kazan joined the cast of Desperate Housewives for season 7. She played the role of Mrs. Maxine Rosen, a self-employed business owner and neighbor to Susan Delfino.
After meeting musical director-arranger Peter H.B. Daniels on the Broadway musical Funny Girl, in which Kazan was a cast member and he was associate orchestra conductor, the two began a five-year relationship. They married sometime after the 1971 birth of their daughter Jennifer. The marriage did not last, and Kazan was single again by 1976.
Beginning in 2012, Kazan became an adjunct professor at UCLA, teaching acting classes and directing her students in drama-department production. She has served on the boards of the Young Musicians’ Foundation, AIDS Project LA, and B'nai Brith, the California Jazz Foundation, and her alma mater, Hofstra University.
On April 9, 2016, Kazan was injured in a head-on collision. Kazan was driving her car when the collision occurred in front of a Greek restaurant in Sherman Oaks, California, which necessitated that she be hospitalized.
|1968||Dayton's Devils||Leda Martell|
|1968||Lady in Cement||Maria Baretto|
|1971||Romance of a Horsethief||Estusha|
|1982||One from the Heart||Maggie|
|1982||My Favorite Year||Belle Carroca|
|1985||Lust in the Dust||Marguerita Ventura|
|1985||The Journey of Natty Gann||Connie|
|1986||The Delta Force||Sylvia Goldman|
|1987||Harry and the Hendersons||Irene Moffitt|
|1987||Medium Rare||Helga Costas|
|1988||Out of the Dark||Hooker / Nancy|
|1991||29th Street||Mrs. Lainie Pesce|
|1992||I Don't Buy Kisses Anymore||Sarah Fishbine|
|1993||The Cemetery Club||Selma|
|1996||Love Is All There Is||Sadie Capomezzo|
|1996||Movies Money Murder||Sylvia|
|1996||The Associate||Cindy Mason|
|1997||Allie & Me||Camille Alexander|
|1998||The Big Hit||Jeanne Shulman|
|1998||Permanent Midnight||June Stahl||Uncredited|
|1998||The Unknown Cyclist||Rachel|
|1999||Mike & Spike Movie||Estelle Kazan|
|2000||What's Cooking?||Ruth 'Ruthie' Seelig|
|2000||Bruno||Sister Mary Perpetua||Also known as The Dress Code|
|2000||The Crew||Pepper Lowenstein|
|2002||My Big Fat Greek Wedding||Maria Portokalos|
|2002||Eight Crazy Nights||Oda||Singing voice|
|2003||Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There||Documentary|
|2003||A Good Night to Die||Diane|
|2004||Red Riding Hood||Grandma|
|2005||Whiskey School||Hedy Seligman|
|2007||Bratz: The Movie||Bubbie|
|2007||Beau Jest||Miriam Goldman|
|2008||You Don't Mess with the Zohan||Gail|
|2009||Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!!||Shirley Hirsch|
|2010||Expecting Mary||Lillian Littlefeather|
|2012||Divorce Invitation||Elaine Lipnicks|
|2013||Growing Defiant||Leslie||cameo appearance|
|2016||My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2||Maria Portokalos|
|2018||The Amityville Murders||Nona|
|2021||Tango Shalom||Leah Zlotkin|
|1962||Car 54, Where Are You?||Girl at bar||Episode: "Je T'Adore Muldoon"|
|1965||Ben Casey||Della||Episode: "Why Did the Day Go Backwards?"|
|1969||The Dean Martin Show||Ella||11 episodes|
|1977||The Bobby Vinton Show||Edna||19 episodes|
|1978||A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story||Sophie Tucker||TV movie|
|1978||Columbo||Valerie Kirk||Episode: "Make Me a Perfect Murder"|
|1980||A Cry for Love||Tina Weathersby||TV movie|
|1983||Sunset Limousine||Jessie Durning||TV movie|
|1984||The Jerk, Too||Card Player||TV movie|
|1984||Obsessive Love||Margaret Chase||TV movie|
|1985–1986||The Paper Chase||Rose Samuels||15 episodes|
|1986||Tough Cookies||Rita||6 episodes|
|1987||Karen's Song||Claire Steiner||13 episodes|
|1987-1988||St. Elsewhere||Frieda Fiscus||3 episodes|
|1988||The Van Dyke Show||Bunnie||Episode: "Fatal Condo"|
|1989||Hägar the Horrible||Helga (voice)||Television short|
|1990||Earthday Birthday||(voice)||TV movie|
|1992||Beverly Hills 90210||Rose Zuckerman||Episode: "Down and Out of District in Beverly Hills"|
|1993||Tales from the Crypt||Mrs. Grafungar||Episode: "People Who Live in Brass Hearses"|
|1994||Animaniacs||Molly (voice)||Episode: "Miami Mama-Mia/Pigeon on the Roof"|
|1995||Murder, She Wrote||Anna Grimaldi||Episode: "Crimson Harvest"|
|1995||Prince for a Day||Rose||TV movie|
|1995–1998||The Nanny||Aunt Freida||4 episodes|
|1998||Safety Patrol||Mrs. Day||TV movie|
|1998||Touched by an Angel||Doris Bernstein||Episode: "Deconstructing Harry"|
|2001||Will & Grace||Aunt Honey||Episode: "Moveable Feast: Part 1"|
|2002||Touched by an Angel||Aunt Meg||Episode: "The Princeless Bride"|
|2002||Returning Lilly||Dana||TV movie|
|2003||My Big Fat Greek Life||Maria Portokalos||7 episodes|
|2005||The Engagement Ring||Alicia Rosa Anselmi||TV movie|
|2006||Living with Fran||Cookie (Fran's mom)||TV movie|
|2007||The King of Queens||Ava St. Clair||2 episodes|
|2008||Boston Legal||Judge Paula Stern||Episode: "Dances with Wolves"|
|2010||Medium Rare||Helga Costas||Episode: "Episode #1.1"|
|2010||'Til Death||Donna||3 episodes|
|2010||Desperate Housewives||Maxine Rosen||5 episodes|
|2012||Modern Family||Eleanor||Episode: "New Year's Eve"|
|2013||Jessie||Wanda Winkle||Episode: "Throw Momma From the Terrace"|
|2013||Grey's Anatomy||Catherine "C.J." Jackson||Episode: "Two Against One"|
|2014||RuPaul's Drag Race||Herself||Episode: "Glamazon"|
|2018||Young & Hungry||Susie Lowenstein||Episode: "Young and Third Wheel"|
|2018||Fuller House||Irma||Episode: "Angels' Night Out"|
- Leave It to Jane (1959, Off-Broadway)
- Kittiwake Island (1960, Off-Broadway)
- The Happiest Girl in the World (1961, Broadway)
- Bravo Giovanni (1962, Broadway)
- Funny Girl (1964, Broadway, understudy for Barbra Streisand)
- Man of La Mancha (1972, Westbury Music Fair)
- Seesaw (1973, Broadway, replaced by Michele Lee before the opening)
- Show Boat (1979, U.S. tour)
- Gypsy (1992, Westbury Music Fair)
- My Favorite Year (1992, Broadway)
- The Government Inspector (1994, Broadway)
- Rags (2006, World AIDS Day benefit concert)
- Bermuda Avenue Triangle (2006, Los Angeles)
- Lainie Kazan (1966) SE-4385 MGM Records (original studio album)
- Right Now (1966) SE-4340 MGM Records (original studio album; with sleeve notes by Dean Martin)
- Love Is Lainie (1967) SE-4496 MGM Records (original studio album)
- The Love Album (1967) SE 4451 MGM Records (original studio album)
- The Best of Lainie Kazan (1969) SE-4631 MGM Records (compilation album)
- The Chanteuse is Loose (1977) LK515 Lainie & Co. (original studio album)
- Body & Soul (1995) 65126 MusicMasters (original studio album)
- In the Groove (1998) 65168 MusicMasters (original studio album)
As guest vocalistEdit
With Benny Carter
- Benny Carter Songbook Volume II (MusicMasters, 1997)
- "Lainie Kazan: Performer". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
- "Lainie Kazan papers 1960-1998". The New York Public Library.
- Klein, Alvin (May 3, 1992). "Lainie Kazan Goes Back to Her Roots". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 28, 2017. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
Her 21-year-old daughter, Jennifer Daniels...
- Kazan, Lainie. "Lainie Kazan". Actors' Equity Association. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
I had just changed my name from Lainie Levine to Lainie Kazan (Kazan being my mother’s maiden name).
- "Paid Notice: Deaths — Levine, Carole". The New York Times. March 16, 2001. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
- Miller, Gerri (March 23, 2016). "Lainie Kazan happily goes 'Greek' again for comedy sequel". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
- Avasthi, Surabhi (June 16, 1996). "Down Memory Lainie How a Nice Jewish Girl From Brooklyn Bared All For Playboy .. And Survived The Aftermath". New York Daily News. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
- "Q&A with Lainie Kazan". Palm Beach Illustrated. December 1, 2016. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
- Breslauer, Jan (February 2, 1997). "You Can't Pin Her Down". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 9, 2016. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
In 1971, she became pregnant by her companion of five years, Peter Daniels, whom she'd met when he was the associate musical conductor on 'Funny Girl'. Kazan's daughter, Jennifer Bena, who now lives in L.A., was born at the end of 1971. After Jennifer's birth, Kazan and Daniels were married, but the match was only to last a few more years. In 1976, newly single and a mother...
- Pfefferman, Naomi (April 11, 2003). "Lainie Kazan's 'Big Fat' Jewish Life". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
- Pine, Dan (March 31, 2006). "Lainie Kazan bringing cabaret classics to S.F." J. The Jewish News of Northern California. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
- "Alumni". HB Studio. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
- Evanier, Mark. "The Jack F.A.Q." POVonline.com. Archived from the original on December 17, 2010. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
- "Columbo" Make Me a Perfect Murder (TV Episode 1978) - IMDb, retrieved 2022-04-08
- Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan. p. 278. ISBN 978-0025426504.
- Abrams, Natalie (January 22, 2010). "Ugly Betty Casts Bobby's Parents". TV Guide. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
- Abrams, Natalie (August 17, 2010). "Lainie Kazan to Guest-Star on Desperate Housewives". TV Guide. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
- "Peter H.B. Daniels; Musical Director, Arranger". Los Angeles Times. February 11, 1989. Archived from the original on April 2, 2016. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
- "Still Kicking: Lainie Kazan". Ability. August–September 2008. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
- Georgia Thrombosis Forum Members (May 4, 2017). "Spreading Awareness of Blood Clots". Atlanta Jewish Times. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
- Guglielmi, Jodi (April 14, 2016). "My Big Fat Greek Wedding Star Lainie Kazan on the Mend After Car Accident". People. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
- Lovece, Frank (December 27, 2017). "Lainie Kazan arrested for shoplifting, report says". Newsday. Retrieved October 17, 2021.
- "'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' star Lainie Kazan allegedly shoplifted groceries before". Fox News. December 29, 2017.
- "Lainie Kazan gets plea deal in shoplifting case". Hollywood.com. January 28, 2018. Retrieved October 17, 2021.
- Bitette, Nicole. "'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' star Lainie Kazan reaches deal after shoplifting arrest". nydailynews.com.