Lainie Kazan


Actor, Singer

About

Also Known As
Lanie Levine
Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
May 15, 1940

Biography

Tall, high-energy nightclub chanteuse and actress who in the 1980s concentrated on a successful feature film and TV acting career. A little bit manic, sometimes sultry, typically frizzy-haired, Kazan received her big break, when, as Barbra Streisand's understudy in the Broadway musical "Funny Girl," she got to go on for one matinee and one evening performance. Her forceful singing and pe...

Notes

Received NARAS New Artist of the Year Award for her debut album in the late 1960s

Biography

Tall, high-energy nightclub chanteuse and actress who in the 1980s concentrated on a successful feature film and TV acting career. A little bit manic, sometimes sultry, typically frizzy-haired, Kazan received her big break, when, as Barbra Streisand's understudy in the Broadway musical "Funny Girl," she got to go on for one matinee and one evening performance. Her forceful singing and performing style received some notice, and within several years, Kazan had an album, a TV special, and several feature roles to her credit. She wasn't typical leading lady material and her films were largely unworthy of her; "Dayton's Devils" (1968), for instance, was distinguished largely by her rendition of "Sunny." For a number of years, she concentrated on her singing, and in the late 1970s, successfully opened cabarets, Lainie's Room and Lainie's Room East, in Los Angeles and New York, respectively.

In 1980, Kazan began focusing on acting work. College classmate Francis Ford Coppola cast her in his unsuccessful "One from the Heart" (1982), but she had better luck as a classic Jewish mother in "My Favorite Year" (1982), a role she would dynamically reprise a decade later in the Lincoln Center stage musical version. A spirited camp, Kazan had little success with two tries at TV sitcom ("Tough Cookies" 1986, starring Robbie Benson; "Karen's Song" 1987, as Patty Duke's pal) but has done rather well as supportive chum and boisterous earth mother types in films ranging from the misfire Western spoof "Lust in the Dust" (1984) to the female bonding drama "Beaches" (1988), the Chuck Norris actioner "Delta Force" (1987) and the family comedies "Harry and the Hendersons" (1987) and "29th Street" (1991).

Kazan's career continued in that vein throughout the '90s with a succession of B-level movies and the occasional standout role, but in 2002 she appeared in the film that would likely define her late-life acting career, playing Nia Vardalos' food-pushing, marriage-minded, oh-so-traditional Greek mother Maria Portokalos in the unexpected smash hit comedy "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," a role that made the most of her comedic gifts playing pushy, domineering matriarchs who are nonetheless lovable and often wise. Kazan would reprise the role for the brief, troubled CBS sit-com spin-off "My Big Fat Greek Life" (2003) and appeared briefly as Ben Affleck's (you guessed it) mother in "Gigli" (2003).

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016)
Pixels (2015)
Divorce Invitation (2013)
Expecting Mary (2010)
Oy Vey! My Son is Gay! (2009)
You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008)
Bratz: The Movie (2007)
Whiskey School (2007)
Beau Jest (2006)
The Engagement Ring (2005)
Broadway: The Golden Age (2004)
Herself
A Good Night to Die (2003)
Gigli (2003)
Tempted (2003)
Julia
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights (2002)
If You Only Knew (2000)
The Crew (2000)
What's Cooking? (2000)
Bruno (2000)
The Big Hit (1998)
The Unknown Cyclist (1998)
Rachel
Safety Patrol (1998)
Allie & Me (1997)
Camille Alexander
The Associate (1996)
Love Is All There Is (1996)
Prince For a Day (1995)
Rose Bitondo
The Cemetery Club (1993)
I Don't Buy Kisses Anymore (1992)
29th Street (1991)
The Life and Times of Charlie Putz (1991)
Eternity (1990)
Bernice/Mother
Out of the Dark (1989)
Medium Rare (1989)
Beaches (1988)
Harry And The Hendersons (1987)
The Delta Force (1986)
Sylvia Goldman
The Journey of Natty Gann (1985)
Lust In The Dust (1984)
Marguerita Ventura
The Jerk, Too (1984)
Obsessive Love (1984)
Margaret Chase
Hotel (1983)
Sunset Limousine (1983)
My Favorite Year (1982)
One From the Heart (1982)
A Cry for Love (1980)
Tina Weathersby
A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story (1978)
Romance of a Horsethief (1971)
Estusha
Dayton's Devils (1968)
Leda Martell
Lady in Cement (1968)
Maria Baretto

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Broadway: The Golden Age (2004)
Other

Cast (Special)

The Engagement Ring (2005)
Las Vegas Live! (2004)
Interviewee
Shelley Winters: Full Disclosure (2001)
Interviewee
People Who Live in Brass Hearses (1993)
Street Scenes: New York on Film (1992)
Hanukkah: Let There Be Lights (1989)
The Adventures of a Two-Minute Werewolf (1985)
Madame Zola
Come With Me -- Lainie Kazan (1971)
Host

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

To Serve and Protect (1999)
Kimberly (1999)
The Earthday Birthday (1990)
Voice
Hagar the Horrible (1990)
Voice

Life Events

1961

Made her Broadway debut in "The Happiest Girl in the World"

1964

Served as understudy to Barbra Streisand in "Funny Girl"

1968

Appeared in concert on the syndicated variety special, "The Lainie Kazan Show"

1968

Made feature film debut in "Lady in Cement"

1968

First leading role in a feature, "Dayton's Devils"

1970

Posed for the October issue of <i>Playboy</i> magazine

1976

Opened Lainie's Room at the Los Angeles Playboy Club; also opened one in NY the following year

1982

Returned to films after a decade long absence to co-star in Francis Ford Coppola's "One from the Heart"

1982

Cast as Benjy's Jewish mother, Belle in "My Favorite Year"

1986

Played Rita on the short-lived CBS sitcom, "Tough Cookies"

1987

Earned an Emmy nomination for her guest role on NBC's hospital drama, "St. Elsewhere"

1988

Cast as Bette Midler's overbearing stage mother in Garry Marshall's "Beaches"

1992

Returned to Broadway to recreate her film role for the musical adaptation of "My Favorite Year"

1994

Cast in the Broadway play, "The Government Inspector"

1995

Had a recurring role on the CBS sitcom "The Nanny" as Fran's Aunt Freida

1997

Played Veronica's (Kirstie Alley) mother on NBC's "Veronica's Closet"

2002

Played the matriarch in the run-away box office hit "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"

2003

Appeared in the box office flop "Gigli"

2008

Cast in the Adam Sandler comedy "You Don't Mess with the Zohan"

Family

Jennifer
Daughter
Survived her.

Bibliography

Notes

Received NARAS New Artist of the Year Award for her debut album in the late 1960s