Singing funny girl Kaye Ballard was born to perform. . . and perform shehas in a career now broaching seven decades.
With a strong comedybackground and tunnel mouth to rival 'Martha Raye' , the broad andbouncy trouper has drawn laughs on the musical stage, in night clubs,in recordings and on TV. As the archetypal over-emotive, knuckle-bitingItalian wife and mama, the octogenarian continues to tickle the funnybone with her earthy brand of comedy while alternately touching heartsin song. She was born Catherine Gloria Balotta, in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughterof an Italian immigrant. A deep desire to perform had already struck bythe time she was five years old. A typical class clown during her highschool years, she began to compile a number of star impressions for heract.
In her teens she performed in a Cleveland USO stage production of"Stage Door Canteen" (1941), and soon set out on her own. Earning a job in 1943 touring with 'Spike Jones (I)' and HisOrchestra for two years as his featured vocalist and flute/tubaplayer(!), Kaye eventually set up camp in New York and made herBroadway debut with the revue "Three to Make Ready" (1946). From thereshe showcased in the musicals "Once in a Lifetime," "Touch and Go" (inLondon), "Annie Get Your Gun" and the burlesque show "Top Banana". During this time she built up a strong song-and-comedy reputation forherself on the nightclub circuit, eventually playing the country's bestcabarets/niteries including The Bon Soir, Persian Room and Blue Angelin New York, The Hungry i in San Francisco, and Mr. Kelly's in Chicago.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Kaye graced nearly every talk/variety showthere was including those for 'Ed Sullivan (I)' ,'Jack Paar (I)' , 'Johnny Carson (I)' , 'Steve Allen (I)' ,'Perry Como' , 'Red Skelton' , 'Carol Burnett' ,'Merv Griffin' and 'Mike Douglas (I)' . Two of her classic TVroles were her ugly stepsister Portia (the other sister being fellowscene-stealer 'Alice Ghostley' ) in the 'Julie Andrews (I)' version of Cinderella (1957) (TV) , and as one of "The Mothers-In-Law" (1967) (the other being fellow veteran'Eve Arden' ) in the popular but short-lived sitcom produced by'Desi Arnaz' . Both showcases catered perfectly to Kaye's brashcomedy instincts. She also pitched in as a meddling second banana for'Doris Day (I)' for one season of the star's 70s TV show. On stage Kaye had Broadway audiences rolling in the aisles with herHelen of Troy in the 1954 musical "The Golden Apple" while introducingthe classic song standard "Lazy Afternoon.
" Other raves came in theform of "Wonderful Town" (1958), "Carnival" (1961) and Cole PorterRevisited" (1965). On the flip side of the coin, she played a frumpyLola Delaney in a badly misguided musical version of "Come Back, LittleSheba" (entitled "Sheba") in 1974, and also tried unsuccessfully tobring life to the beloved, indomitable Molly Goldberg radio/TVcharacter in the Broadway musical "Molly" (1973); the show lasted amere two months. Kaye was much more at home sinking her teeth into twoof theater's most impregnable females: Mama Rose in "Gypsy" and DollyLevi in "Hello, Dolly!"With an out-stretched personality on par with 'Carol Channing' and'Ethel Merman' , films never became a suitable medium. AlthoughKaye gave a standout debut performance in The Girl Most Likely (1958) , starring 'Jane Powell (I)' ,she was seldom seen after that. Her sprinkling of supports included A House Is Not a Home (1964) with 'Shelley Winters' , Which Way to the Front? (1970) starring 'Jerry Lewis (I)' , Freaky Friday (1976) with young 'Jodie Foster' , and,perhaps more notably, in The Ritz (1976) starring'Rita Moreno (I)' and 'Jerry Stiller' in which she got toplay her patented haranguing wife.
In later years, Kaye dominated the stage with feisty work in "Nunsense","The Pirates of Penzance" (a Broadway replacement), "High Spirits" (asMadame Arcati), "Funny Girl" (as Mrs. Brice), "The Full Monty" and thefemale version of "The Odd Couple". In recent times, the Rancho Mirage,California resident has performed with the Palm Spring Follies show isout-and-about doing her one-woman cabaret show belting out the good oldsongs and retracing her burlesque-styled comedy roots. A survivor ofbreast cancer, the never-married veteran has shown no signs of slowingdown. .
|1||Avas Magical Adventure||1998||as Leona the Sheriff|
|2||Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age||2012||as Herself|
|3||Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age||2016||as Herself|
|4||Doris Day: A Sentimental Journey||1991||as Herself|
|5||Falling in Love Again||1980||as Mrs. Lewis (1940's)|
|6||The 37th Annual Academy Awards||1965||as Herself - Audience Member|
|7||The Modern Adventures of Tom Sawyer||1998||as Mrs. Grumpy Old Man|
|8||Which Way to the Front?||1970||as Senora Messina|
|9||Love, American Style||1969||as (segment "Love and the Soap Opera")|
|10||The Engelbert Humperdinck Show||1969||as Herself|
|11||The Hollywood Palace||1964||as Herself - Comedian|
|12||The Law and Harry McGraw||1987||as Angela Calucci|
|13||The Mike Douglas Show||1961||as Herself - Co-Host|
|14||The Muppet Show||1976||as Herself/Gretchen Powers|
|15||The NBC Comedy Hour||1956||as Herself - Comedian|
|16||The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson||1962||as Herself - Guest|
|17||A House Is Not a Home||1964||as Sidonia|
|18||A Lovely Night: The Making of Rodgers and Hammersteins Television Classic||2005||as Herself|
|19||American Film Institute Comedy Special||1987||as Mrs. Pagano (segment "Five Corners")|
|20||Baby Geniuses||1999||as Mayor|
|21||Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There||2003||as Herself|
|22||Cinderella||1957||as Stepsister Portia|
|24||Freaky Friday||1976||as Coach Betsy|
|25||Heres Harry: Remembering Gale Gordon||2011||as Herself - Interviewee|
|26||Little Insects||2000||as Queen Palooma|
|27||Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade||1984||as Herself|
|28||Modern Love||1990||as Receptionist|
|29||Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin to Tell You||2013||as Herself|
|30||Musical Comedy Tonight III||1985||as Herself|
|31||Night of 100 Stars||1982||as Herself|
|32||Pandemonium||1982||as Glenn's Mom|
|33||Sonic Boom||1974||as Aggie|
|34||The 37th Annual Thalians Ball||1992||as Herself|
|35||The Desilu Story||2003||as Herself|
|36||The Dream Merchants||1980||as Esther Kessler|
|37||The Girl Most Likely||1958||as Marge|
|38||The Million Dollar Kid||2000||as Mrs. Crabby|
|39||The Outrageous Sophie Tucker||2014||as Herself|
|40||The Pool of Desire||2004||as Herself|