You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

December 3: Madeline Kahn

December 3, 2015

young-frankenstein_2edActress Madeline Kahn (Wolfson), best know for her comedic roles in a series of Mel Brooks films, including What’s Up, Doc? (1972), Young Frankenstein (1974), Blazing Saddles (1974), High Anxiety (1977), and History of the World, Part I (1981), died at 57 on this date in 1999. Kahn, who acted in over forty films, was twice nominated for Best Supporting Actress Oscars. She was also nominated as a stage actress for four Tony Awards, one of which she won in 1993 for her role in the comedy The Sisters Rosensweig. “I find being funny very hard work,” she said that year. “I am always asked about it and I feel guilty saying that, but it’s the truth. I love my work but it ain’t easy.” Nonetheless, wrote David Richards in the New York Times, “She can make the most innocent of utterances seem like the wildest of non sequiturs. She winds up stealing everybody’s thunder.” To see her Marlene Dietrich send-up in Blazing Saddles, look below.

“I would not particularly wish to be a star. There is something about the willingness to be so out there in a big way that I think I may have subtly attempted to avoid.” —Madeline Kahn