Actress, singer, and comedian Kaye Ballard — best known for her role on the NBC sitcom The Mothers-in-Law opposite Eve Arden — died Monday in Rancho Mirage, California, according to the Associated Press. She was 93.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Ballard got her start in vaudeville before making her way to Broadway, where she appeared in the 1946 musical Three To Make Ready opposite The Wizard of Oz star Ray Bolger. After a stint in cabaret, she moved to the small screen, first by playing one of the two wicked stepsisters in the live telecast of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella featuring Julie Andrews in 1957. She was a regular on NBC’s The Perry Como Show and appeared on The Patty Duke Show before becoming a household name as Kaye Buell, a live wire whose son married her next-door neighbor’s daughter in The Mothers-in-Law. It aired from 1967 to 1969.
Her other TV credits included stints on Love, American Style; Fantasy Island; Trapper John, M.D.; and The Love Boat.
Earlier this month, the Palm Springs International Film Festival screened her documentary Kaye Ballard: The Show Goes On. “I loved that she was at the theater the night the film opened at the festival,” festival chairman Harold Matzner told The Desert Sun. “She received a serenade of applause from all the people who gathered from a sold-out performance. I’m sure she loved that. I’m glad it was finished in time for her to see it and enjoy it.”
Ballard was a longtime resident of the Coachella Valley in Southern California, and the city of Rancho Mirage renamed the street she lived on to Kaye Ballard Lane in 2003.
“When self-interest and ego satisfaction were being dished out to humans, Kaye was still in the line waiting for a second helping of awe and wonder,” Hal Wingo, who executive-produced Ballard’s documentary, told The Desert Sun. “Those traits were her constant companions throughout a career of comedic brilliance and stunning vocal competence in every arena of show business, from vaudeville to Broadway, television, and films. But, what must be remembered now is that none of those achievements were any match for the grandeur and strength of her own generous heart. That’s the great loss we all experience in losing her.”
Ballard never married or had children.