Madeline Kahn

Madeline Kahn

Actress / Soundtrack

Madeline Kahn was born Madeline Gail Wolfson of Russian Jewish descent on September 29, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts, to Freda Goldberg (later known as Paula Kahn), who was still in her teens, and Bernard B. Wolfson, a garment manufacturer. She began her acting career in high school and went on to university where she trained as an opera singer and starred in several campus productions, ultimately earning a doctorate in her chosen field.

Kahn’s best-known work came in Paper Moon (1973) with Ryan O’Neal, which was followed the next year by Mel Brooks’s outrageous Blazing Saddles (1974) as Lili Von Shtupp, a cabaret singer who was obviously based on Marlene Dietrich’s performance in Destry Rides Again (1939). Kahn was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in both movies. In 1998, she lent her voice to the character of “Gypsy” in A Bug’s Life (1998).

On December 3, 1999, Madeline Kahn died of ovarian cancer in New York City, after a yearlong or so battle, during part of which time she was a cast member of Cosby (1996), aged 57.

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