Actress/singer/comedienne Talk show guest Kaye Ballard Dies at 93


Courtesy of Photofest
Kaye Ballard

A whiskey-voiced singer who was the first to record ‘Fly Me to the Moon,’ the Cleveland native also starred in the movies, on Broadway and in nightclubs.

Kaye Ballard, the singer, actress and comedienne best known for starring as one of the meddling title characters on the 1960s NBC sitcom The Mothers-in-Law, has died. She was 93.

Ballard, a popular nightclub entertainer and star on Broadway who was the first to record the popular tune “Fly Me to the Moon,” died Monday at her home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., The Desert Sun reported.

Just this month, she appeared at a Palm Springs International Film Festival screening of the documentary Kaye Ballard: The Show Goes On.

On The Mothers-in-Law, created by famed I Love Lucy writers Bob Carroll and Madelyn Pugh Davis and produced by Desi Arnaz, Ballard starred as Kaye Buell, the big-mouth wife of a TV writer (played by Roger C. Carmel in the first season and Richard Deacon in the second).

Eve Arden and Herbert Rudley played their married neighbors, and when the couples’ kids (Jerry Fogel, Deborah Walley) elope, the mothers-in-law can’t help but get in the way. The show ran from 1967 to 1969.

Ballard’s turn as the bored housewife Helen in the 1954 Broadway mock-musical comedy The Golden Apple, directed by Norman Lloyd, was a career highlight, as was her performance of the song “Lazy Afternoon” in the production.

The whiskey-voiced singer also stirred audiences on the Great White Way with her rendition of “Always, Always You” as the Incomparable Rosalie in Carnival!, which won the 1961 Dramatic Critics Circle Award as best musical.

Ballard made her movie debut in the musical The Girl Most Likely (1958), starring Jane Powell (that was the last film produced by RKO Radio Pictures). She also appeared opposite Shelley Winters in the drama A House Is Not a Home (1964); with Jerry Lewis in the comedy Which Way to the Front? (1970); as Coach Betsy in Jodie Foster’s Freaky Friday (1976); and as Jack Weston’s wife in The Ritz (1976), directed by Richard Lester.

She was born Catherine Gloria Balotta in Cleveland on Nov. 20, 1925, to first-generation Italian-American parents. She was the second of four children, and her father was a cement finisher who put down sidewalks. As a teen, she worked as an usherette at the RKO Palace Theatre and perfected imitations of Bette Davis, Judy Garland and Martha Raye. She took her skills of mimicry into burlesque and vaudeville.



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