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Carol Kane
Carol Kane (2018) (cropped).jpg
Kane in 2018
Born (1952-06-18) June 18, 1952 (age 72)
Occupation Actress, comedian
Years active 1966–present

Carolyn Laurie Kane (born June 18, 1952) is an American actress. She gained recognition for her role in Hester Street (1975), for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. She became known in the 1970s and 1980s in films such as Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Annie Hall (1977), When a Stranger Calls (1979), The Princess Bride (1987), and Scrooged (1988).

Kane appeared on the television series Taxi in the early 1980s, as Simka Gravas, the wife of Latka, the character played by Andy Kaufman, winning two Emmy Awards for her work. She has played the character of Madame Morrible in the musical Wicked, both in touring productions and on Broadway from 2005 to 2014. From 2015 to 2020, she was a main cast member on the Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, in which she played Lillian Kaushtupper. She currently plays the recurring role of Pelia in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (2023–present).

Early life

Kane was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of Joy, a jazz singer, teacher, dancer, and pianist, and Michael Kane. Her family is Jewish, and her grandparents emigrated from Russia, Austria, and Poland. Her parents divorced when she was 12 years old. She attended the Cherry Lawn School, a boarding school in Darien, Connecticut, until 1965. She studied theater at HB Studio and also went to the Professional Children's School in New York City. Kane made her professional theater debut in a 1966 production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, starring Tammy Grimes.


1971–1979: Career beginnings and early recognition

Kane's on-screen career began while she was still a teenager, when she appeared in minor roles in films such as Desperate Characters and Mike Nichols's Carnal Knowledge in 1971, the latter of which led her to befriend lead actor Jack Nicholson. .....

Hester Street (1975 poster)
Theatrical release poster for Hester Street (1975)

In 1975, Kane was cast in Joan Micklin Silver's feature-length debut Hester Street, in which she played a Russian-Jewish immigrant who struggles with her husband to assimilate in early 20th-century New York. For her performance in the film, Kane garnered her sole Academy Award nomination for Best Actress at the 48th Academy Awards, and it remains her favorite of all her roles. Additionally, 1975 saw her appear as a bank teller in Sidney Lumet's crime drama Dog Day Afternoon, which received numerous Academy Award nominations in other categories that same year. This also marked her first on-screen collaboration with Al Pacino, whom she had known prior to the film thanks to their shared background in theater.

Despite this recognition, however, Kane has recounted waiting for approximately a year before being cast in her next role, which she has attributed to the trend of actors being typecast after receiving awards attention. Her return to the screen would come with Gene Wilder's 1977 comedy The World's Greatest Lover, which she has credited for identifying the comedic talents that would become her staple in later years. During the same year, she was cast in Woody Allen's romantic comedy Annie Hall, where she played Allison Portchnik, the first wife of Allen's character Alvy Singer. She also appeared in Ken Russell's film Valentino, which, like The World's Greatest Lover, takes inspiration from the silent film era, as it is a biographical drama loosely inspired by the life of Rudolph Valentino.

Carol Kane Gene Wilder 1977
Kane and Gene Wilder in a publicity photo for The World's Greatest Lover, 1977

After this, Kane appeared in the horror films The Mafu Cage (1978) and When a Stranger Calls (1979); ironically, Kane herself is largely averse to horror, and she admits to being unable to watch the latter. In 1979, she also appeared in a cameo role in The Muppet Movie.

1980–1990: Taxi and transition into comedy

From 1980 to 1983, Kane portrayed Simka Dahblitz-Gravas, the wife of Andy Kaufman's character Latka Gravas, on the American television series Taxi. Kane has attributed the on-screen rapport she shared with Kaufman to their different work ethics: where she was trained in the theater and enjoyed rehearsal time, Kaufman was rooted more in stand-up comedy and did not care for rehearsals, a contrast that she believes enhanced their believability as a married couple. However, she maintains that she and Kaufman had a loving relationship on set, and she has spoken fondly of him in retrospective interviews. Kane received two Emmy Awards for her work on Taxi. Her role on the series has largely been credited as the beginning of her pivot towards more comedic roles, as she began to regularly appear in sitcoms and comedy films after the series ended.

In 1984, Kane appeared in episode 12, season 3 of Cheers as Amanda, an acquaintance of Diane Chambers from her time spent in a mental institution. She was also a regular on the 1986 series All Is Forgiven.

In 1987, Kane appeared in Ishtar, Elaine May's notorious box-office flop turned cult classic, playing the frustrated girlfriend of Dustin Hoffman's character. That year also saw her make one of her most recognizable film appearances in Rob Reiner's fantasy romance The Princess Bride, where she played a witch opposite Billy Crystal. In 1988, Kane appeared in the Cinemax Comedy Experiment Rap Master Ronnie: A Report Card alongside Jon Cryer and the Smothers Brothers. During the same year, she was also featured in the Bill Murray vehicle Scrooged, where she portrayed a contemporary version of the Ghost of Christmas Present, depicted in the film as a fairy. For this performance, Variety called her "unquestionably [the] pic's comic highlight". Additionally, she played a potential love interest for Steve Martin's character in the 1990 film My Blue Heaven.

1990–2004: Television and film regularity

Kane became a regular on the NBC series American Dreamer, which ran from 1990 to 1991. In 1993, she appeared in Addams Family Values where she replaced Judith Malina as Grandmama Addams; this role saw her reunite with her Taxi castmate Christopher Lloyd. She also guest starred on a 1994 episode of Seinfeld, as well as a 1996 episode of Ellen. In 1996, she was given a supporting role in the short-lived sitcom Pearl. From there, she continued to appear in a number of film roles throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, including The Pallbearer (1996), Office Killer (1997), Jawbreaker (1999), and My First Mister (2001). In 1998, she voiced Mother Duck in the American version of the animated television film The First Snow of Winter.

In 1999, she made a cameo in the Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon as her Taxi character.

2005–2014: Wicked and career expansion

Kane is also known for her portrayal of the evil headmistress Madame Morrible in the Broadway musical Wicked, whom she played in various productions from 2005 to 2014. Kane made her Wicked debut on the 1st National Tour, playing the role from March 9 through December 19, 2005. She then reprised the role in the Broadway production from January 10 through November 12, 2006. She again played the role for the Los Angeles production which began performances on February 7, 2007. She left the production on December 30, 2007, and later returned on August 26, 2008, until the production closed on January 11, 2009.

In January 2009, she guest starred in the television series Two and a Half Men as the mother of Alan Harper's receptionist.

She then transferred with the Los Angeles company of Wicked to reprise her role once again, this time in the San Francisco production, which began performances January 27, 2009. She ended her limited engagement on March 22, 2009.

In March 2010, Kane appeared in the ABC series Ugly Betty as Justin Suarez's acting teacher.

Kane starred in the off-Broadway play Love, Loss, and What I Wore in February 2010. She made her West End debut in January 2011 in a major revival of Lillian Hellman's drama The Children's Hour at London's Comedy Theatre, where she starred alongside Keira Knightley, Elisabeth Moss and Ellen Burstyn. In May 2012, Kane appeared on Broadway as Betty Chumley in a revival of the play Harvey.

Kane returned to the Broadway company of Wicked from July 1, 2013, through February 22, 2014, a period that included the show's 10th anniversary.

In 2014, she was cast in a recurring role on the television series Gotham as Gertrude Kapelput, the mother of Oswald Cobblepot, also known as Penguin.

2015–present: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and legacy roles

In 2015, Kane was cast in the recurring role of Lillian Kaushtupper, the landlord to the title character of the Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Kane joined the cast due in part to her admiration of showrunner Tina Fey, with whom she had previously wanted to collaborate on the NBC series 30 Rock. She was promoted to a series regular for the show's second season. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ran for four seasons, making it one of Kane's longest television roles to date. She reprised the role in the "interactive" television special Kimmy vs the Reverend.

In 2018, Kane was cast in Jacques Audiard's Western film The Sisters Brothers. In 2019, she appeared in Jim Jarmusch's horror comedy The Dead Don't Die, marking another collaboration with Bill Murray. That same year, she was featured in the recurring role of Bianca Nova in season one of the HBO series Los Espookys, where she reunited with her Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt castmate Fred Armisen.

In 2020, Kane was featured in the ensemble cast of the Amazon series Hunters, which also includes her longtime acquaintance Al Pacino. Additionally, during the same year, she participated in two cast reunion fundraisers, one with the cast of Taxi for the Actors Fund, the other with the cast of The Princess Bride for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

It was announced on Star Trek Day 2022 that Kane would join the cast of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds for season two as Chief Engineer Pelia. Prior to her casting, Kane had never seen an episode of the original Star Trek series, though she has said the show's writers thought this oversight improved her performance.

In 2023, Kane was announced as one of the leads in Nathan Silver's upcoming comedy film Between the Temples.

Personal life

Kane was in a relationship with actor Woody Harrelson from 1986 to 1988. The two have remained friends since their break-up, and Harrelson was seen attending Kane's 60th birthday party in 2012.

She has never been married, nor has she had any children. Regarding the latter decision, she has said, "I never felt that I would be calm and stable enough to be the kind of mother I'd like to be. I don't think everyone randomly is mother material."

Kane is often noted for her high, breathy, slow voice, though her vocal timbre has grown raspier with age. .....



Year Title Role Notes
1971 Desperate Characters Young Girl
Carnal Knowledge Jennifer
1972 Wedding in White Jeannie Dougall
...and Hope to Die (aka. La course du lièvre à travers les champs) Scenes cut from finished film
1973 The Last Detail Young ...
1975 Hester Street Gitl Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Dog Day Afternoon Jenny
1976 Harry and Walter Go to New York Florence
1977 Annie Hall Allison Portchnik
Valentino Starlet
The World's Greatest Lover Annie Hickman
1978 The Mafu Cage Cissy
1979 The Muppet Movie Myth
When a Stranger Calls Jill Johnson
La Sabina Daisy
1981 The Games of Countess Dolingen Louise Haines-Pearson
Strong Medicine
1982 Pandemonium Candy
Norman Loves Rose Rose Nominated — AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
1983 Can She Bake a Cherry Pie? Customer at Cafe
1984 Over the Brooklyn Bridge Cheryl
Racing with the Moon Annie the Hooker
The Secret Diary of Sigmund Freud Martha Bernays
Terror in the Aisles Jill Johnson (archival footage) Documentary
1985 Transylvania 6-5000 Lupi
1986 Jumpin' Jack Flash Cynthia
1987 Ishtar Carol
The Princess Bride Valerie
1988 Sticky Fingers Kitty
License to Drive Mrs. Anderson
Scrooged Ghost of Christmas Present
1990 The Lemon Sisters Franki D'Angelo
Flashback Maggie
Joe Versus the Volcano Hairdresser cameo
My Blue Heaven Shaldeen
1991 Ted & Venus Colette
1992 In the Soup Barbara
Baby on Board Maria
The Real Story of Here Comes the Bride Margaret Mouse (voice)
1993 Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Carla
Addams Family Values Grandmama
1994 The Crazysitter Treva Van Arsdale
1995 Theodore Rex Molly Rex (voice) Direct-to-video film
1996 Big Bully Faith
American Strays Helen
Sunset Park Mona
The Pallbearer Mrs. Thompson
Trees Lounge Connie
1997 Gone Fishin' Donna Waters
Office Killer Dorine Douglas
1998 The Tic Code Miss Gimpole
1999 Jawbreaker Principal Sherwood
Man on the Moon Herself/Simka Dahblitz
The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald Org's mother (voice) Short subject
2000 The Office Party Linda Short subject
2001 D.C. Smalls Mother Short subject
My First Mister Mrs. Benson
The Shrink Is In Dr. Louise Rosenberg
Tomorrow by Midnight Officer Garfield
2002 Love in the Time of Money Joey
2003 Cosmopolitan Mrs. Shaw
2004 Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen Miss Baggoli
2005 The Pacifier Helga
The Civilization of Maxwell Bright Temple
The Happy Elf Gilda (voice)
2008 Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five Sheep (voice)
Four Christmases Aunt Sarah (uncredited)
2010 The Bounty Hunter Dawn
My Girlfriend's Boyfriend Barbara
Pete Smalls Is Dead Landlady
2011 The Key Man Marsha
2012 Sleepwalk with Me Linda Pandamiglio
Should've Been Romeo Ruth
Thanks for Sharing Roberta
2013 Clutter Linda Bradford
2014 Emoticon ;) Hannah Song
2015 Ava's Possessions Talia
2018 The Sisters Brothers Mrs. Sisters
Ghost Light Madeline Styne
2019 The Dead Don't Die Mallory O'Brien
2022 iMordecai Fela
2023 Migration Erin (voice)
2024 Between the Temples Carla O'Connor Post-production; also executive producer


Year Title Role Notes
1974 We, the Woman Susannah White Television film
1978 Visions Episode: "Fans of the Kosko Show"
1978–1981 Great Performances Eliza Southgate; Frances Loomis Episodes: "Out of Our Father's House"; "The Girls in Their Summer Dresses and Other Stories"
1980 The Greatest Man in the World April Television film
1980–1983 Taxi Simka Dahblitz-Gravas 17 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1982)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy, Variety or Music Series (1983)
Medallion Award (2007)
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1983)
Nominated — TV Land Award for Most Wonderful Wedding (2006)
1982 Laverne & Shirley Olga Episode: "Jinxed"
1983 An Invasion of Privacy Ilene Cohen Television film
American Playhouse Lavinia Episode: "Keeping On"
Faerie Tale Theatre The "Good" Fairy Episode: "Sleeping Beauty"
1984 Burning Rage Mary Harwood Television film
Cheers Amanda Boyer Episode: "A Ditch in Time"
1985 Tales from the Darkside Anne MacColl Episode: "Snip, Snip"
Crazy Like a Fox Episode: "Bum Tip"
1986 Tall Tales & Legends Barbara Episode: "Casey at the Bat"
All Is Forgiven Nicolette Bingham 9 episodes
1987 Paul Reiser Out on a Whim Fortune Teller Television film
1988 Drop-Out Mother Maxine Television film
Rap Master Ronnie: A Report Card Television film
1989–1994 Sesame Street Nina the Nice Episode 2648: "Bob accompanies Oscar to Grouchytown"; archival footage
1990 Tales from the Crypt Judy Episode: "Judy, You're Not Yourself Today"
Tiny Toon Adventures Ollie (voice) Episode: "A Quack in the Quarks"
1990–1991 American Dreamer Lillian Abernathy 17 episodes
1991–1992 Brooklyn Bridge Aunt Sylvia 5 episodes
1992 Sibs Sally Episodes: "The Crash: Part 1", "The Crash: Part 2"
The Ray Bradbury Theater Polly Episode: "Tomorrow's Child"
1993 When a Stranger Calls Back Jill Johnson Television film
TriBeCa Amanda Episode: "Stepping Back"
Eligible Dentist Television film
1994 Seinfeld Corinne Episode: "The Marine Biologist"
Aladdin Brawnhilda (voice) Episodes: "Stinkerbelle", "Smells Like Trouble"
Empty Nest Shelby Episode: "The Courtship of Carol's Father"
1995 A.J.'s Time Travelers Emily Roebling Episode: "Brooklyn Bridge"
Dad, the Angel & Me The Angel Television film
Napoleon Spider (voice) English version
Freaky Friday Leanne Futterman Television film
1996 Chicago Hope Marguerite Birch Episode: "Stand"
Nominated – Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (1996)
Ellen Lily Penney Episode: "A Penney Saved"
1996–1997 Pearl Annie Caraldo 22 episodes
1997 Hey Arnold! Emily Dickinson Trophy (voice) Episode: "Freeze Frame/Phoebe Cheats"
The Tony Danza Show Simka Gravaas Episode: "The Milk Run"
Homicide: Life on the Street Gwen Munch Episode: "All Is Bright"
Merry Christmas, George Bailey Cousin Tilly/Mrs. Hatch Television film
1998 The First Seven Years Mrs. Feld Television short
Adventures from the Book of Virtues The Beetle (voice) Episode: "Patience"
Noddy Tooth Fairy Episode: "The Tooth Fairy"
1999 Noah's Ark Sarah Television film
Blue's Clues Little Miss Muffet (voice) Episode: "Blue's Big Treasure Hunt"
1999–2000 Beggars and Choosers Lydia Luddin 3 episodes
2000 As Told by Ginger Maude (voice) Episodes: "I Spy a Witch"; "Carl and Maude"
2001 Family Guy Carol (voice) Episode: "Emission Impossible"
2002 That's Life Gloria Episode: "Baum's Thesis"
The Grubbs Sophie Grubb Episode: "Pilot"
2003 Audrey's Rain Missy Flanders Television film
2004 Hope & Faith Cornelia Rackett Episode: "Faith Scare-Field"
2005 The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy Mrs. Claus (voice) Episode: "Billy and Mandy Save Christmas"
2006 The Year Without a Santa Claus Mother Nature Television film; cameo
2009 Two and a Half Men Shelly Episodes: "Thank God for Scoliosis"; "David Copperfield Slipped Me a Roofie"
Monk Joy Episode: "Mr. Monk Is the Best Man"
2009, 2013 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Gwen Munch Episodes: "Zebras", "Wonderland Story"
2010 Ugly Betty Lena Korvinka Episode: "All the World's a Stage"
2011 Dora the Explorer Grandma Troll (voice) Episode: "The Grumpy Old Troll Gets Married"
2011–2012 Jake and the Never Land Pirates Sea Witch (voice) 2 episodes
2011–2014 Phineas and Ferb Nana Shapiro (voice) 2 episodes
2013 Girls Cloris Episode: "It's Back"
Anger Management Carol Episode: "Charlie and His New Friend with Benefits"
2014–2016 Gotham Gertrud Kapelput Recurring guest; 10 episodes
2015–2020 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Lillian Kaushtupper Main role; 42 episodes (seasons 1-4 and Kimmy vs the Reverend)
2016 Crowded Linda Episode: "Given to Fly"
2017 Halt and Catch Fire Denise Episode: "Ten of Swords"
Star vs. the Forces of Evil Dr. Jelly Goodwell (voice) Episode: "Princess Turdina/Starfari"
2017–2019 OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes Ginger (voice) 2 episodes
2018 Pinkalicious & Peterrific Edna (voice) 3 episodes
Animals Chompy (voice) 2 episodes
2018–2021 F Is for Family Marilyn Chilson (voice) 5 episodes
Vampirina Madame Spook (voice) 2 episodes
2018–2019 Rapunzel's Tangled Adventure Madam Canardist (voice) 3 episodes
2019 Los Espookys Bianca Nova 4 episodes
Bubble Guppies The Sea Witch (voice) Episode: "The New Guppy!"
Big Mouth The Menopause Banshee (voice) Episode: "Florida"
Summer Camp Island Barb Junior (voice) Episode: "The Great Elf Invention Convention"
2020–2023 Hunters Mindy Markowitz 18 episodes
2022 Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience Grand-Mah (voice) Television film
The Simpsons Blythe (voice) Episode: "Step Brother from the Same Planet"
2023 Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Pelia Recurring
2024 Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur Bube Bina (voice) Episode: "Ride or Die"
2024 Dinner with the Parents Nana Main


Year Title Role Venue Notes
1972 Ring Around the Bathtub Esme Train Broadway; Martin Beck Theatre
1978 The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds Tillie Broadway; Biltmore Theatre
1987 A Woman of Mystery Un Named Woman Los Angeles; Court Theatre Directed by John Cassavetes
2003 The Exonerated Sunny Jacobs Touring Replacement
2004 Sly Fox Miss Fancy Broadway; Ethel Barrymore Theatre Replacement
2005; 2007;
2008; 2009
Wicked Madame Morrible Touring
2006; 2013 Broadway; Gershwin Theatre Replacement
2012 Harvey Betty Chumley Broadway; Studio 54

Music videos

Year Title Artist(s)
1985 "This Is My Night" Chaka Khan

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
1976 Academy Awards Best Actress Hester Street Nominated
1978 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds Nominated
1982 AACTA Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role Norman Loves Rose Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Taxi Won
1983 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy, Variety or Music Series Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
1996 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Chicago Hope Nominated
2006 TV Land Award Most Wonderful Wedding Taxi Nominated
2007 Medallion Award Won

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Carol Kane para niños

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