Oct. 27th, 1925
Berkeley, California, USA
Jane Connell's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Jane was born as Jane Sperry Bennett in Berkeley, California, the daughter of Louis Wesley Bennett and Mary Sperry Bennett. She married William Gordon Connell (an actor and musician), and they have two daughters, Melissa Connell and Margaret Connell.
She began her career with her husband, who is known professionally as Gordon Connell, working in such San Francisco night clubs as 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 made Carol Burnett a Broadway star. Connell had a big success in 1966 when she was cast as Agnes Gooch in Jerry Herman's Mame. She recreated the role in the 1974 screen adaptation when the film's star, Lucille Ball, became dissatisfied with Madeline Kahn, who had been signed to play Gooch.
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.
Connell and her husband enjoyed extensive theatre careers. They appeared together on Broadway in Lysistrata (November 1972), starring Melina Mercouri in the title role; and Off Broadway in the City Center Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert production of Call Me Madam (February 1995), and the Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall concert presentation of Noel Coward's Sail Away (November 1999) starring Elaine Stritch.
Connell's film roles include Kotch and House Calls. Her television appearances include Bewitched, Green Acres, All in the Family, Love, American Style, Maude, Good Times and Law & Order.
- Jane was interviewed by author Craig Hamrick for his book "Big Lou," the biography of actor Louis Edmonds. Many of her comments, plus a mini-bio at the end, appear in the book. Jane and Louis costarred in a lively 1960s musical that died on its way to Broadway and starred Kaye Ballard. It was called "Royal Flush," and Hamrick devotes several pages to coverage of this otherwise fairly obscure musical.
- Nominated for the 1987 Tony Award (New York City) for Supporting or Features Actress in a Musical for "Me and My Girl".
- Jane and Gordon started their careers working in San Francisco night clubs such as The Purple Onion and the hungry "i"
- Born and raised in Berkeley, California, she married college sweetheart and fellow performer 'Gordon Connell' (qv). One of their first billings together was at San Francisco's Purple Onion on a billing with 'Maya Angelou' (qv) who was at that time a calypso singer.
- Was the dubbed voice of Aunt Beru in Star Wars A New Hope.
- Assumed the role of feisty accompanist Jeannette in the Broadway production of "The Full Monty" in 2001 when its originator, 'Kathleen Freeman (I)' (qv), became ill with cancer. After Freeman's death, Connell played it for a year on Broadway, then toured for more than a year.
- Was cast in the Lucy film version of _Mame (1974)_ (qv) after 'Madeline Kahn' (qv) was fired as Agnes Gooch. It seems Lucy did not understand Madeline's style of comedy.
- For nearly 50 years, she has been a New York theater fixture, which includes Broadway musicals, summer stock, national tours, and cabaret. Best known on stage for her Mrs. Peachum in "The Threepenny Opera" and Agnes Gooch in "Mame", which she also played on film in the 'Lucille Ball' (qv) version. In addition she played 'Carol Burnett' (qv)'s famed role of Princess Winifred in the original London version of "Once Upon a Mattress".
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