Full Name at Birth
Jane Sperry Bennett
Berkeley, California, USA
Claim to Fame
Jane Sperry Connell (née Bennett; October 27, 1925 – September 22, 2013) was an American character actress. She was born in Berkeley, California to Louis Wesley and Mary (née Sperry) Bennett.
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Profile Bio Text
Jane Connell (October 27, 1925 – September 23, 2013) was an American character actress. She was born as Jane Sperry Bennett in Berkeley, California to Louis Wesley and Mary (née Sperry) Bennett.
Connell began her career with her husband, Gordon, entertaining in San Francisco night clubs such as the 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 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 originated in New York.
Connell had a big success 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 the film's star, Lucille Ball, became dissatisfied with Madeline Kahn, who had been signed originally to play Gooch.
Jane Connell was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in Me and My Girl (1986). 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 starring Lansbury; Lend Me a Tenor (1989); Crazy for You (1992); and Moon Over Buffalo (1995), starring Carol Burnett. Her last Broadway appearance was in the role of pianist Jeannette Burmeister in The Full Monty, succeeding Kathleen Freeman, who died during her run in show.
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 Kotch and House Calls. Her television appearances included Bewitched, Green Acres, All in the Family, Love, American Style, M*A*S*H, Maude, Good Times and Law & Order.
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