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Lainie Kazan (born May 15, 1940) is an Americanmarker actress and singer.

Personal life

Kazan was born Lanie Levine in Brooklynmarker, New York Citymarker to an Ashkenazi Jewish father who worked as a bookie and a Sephardic Jewish mother, Carole, whom Kazan has described as "neurotic, fragile and artistic". She serves on the boards of the Young Musician's Foundation, AIDS Project LA, and B'nai Brith.


Kazan made her Broadwaymarker debut in The Happiest Girl in the World in 1961, followed by Bravo Giovanni (1962). She served as understudy to Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl, finally getting to go on eighteen months into the run when the star was felled by a serious throat problem. Coincidentally, both had attended the same high school, Erasmus Hall High Schoolmarker in Brooklyn, New Yorkmarker. Kazan's mother alerted the press and, encouraged by rave reviews for her performance, she quit the show and set out to establish herself in a singing career.

As her popularity increased, Kazan posed for a spread in the October 1970 issue of Playboy, which was reused in Pocket Playboy #4, issued in 1974. Lainie's appearance in the magazine opened the door for her to headline and operate two different Playboy Jazz Clubs under Hugh Hefner's oversight called Lainie's Lounge East and West on opposite coasts, one in Los Angelesmarker and the other in Manhattanmarker. Her Playboy photographs also inspired the look of Jack Kirby's DC Comics superheroine Big Barda.

Kazan appeared in numerous supper clubs across the country, and she guested on Dean Martin's variety series twenty-six times. Other television work includes a recurring role as Aunt Freida on the Fran Drescher sitcom The Nanny and as Kirstie Alley's mother on Veronica's Closet, and guest shots on St. Elsewhere (resulting in an Emmy nomination), The Paper Chase, Touched by an Angel, and Will & Grace. She also was featured in My Big Fat Greek Life, a short-lived series based on the Nia Vardalos hit film My Big Fat Greek Wedding which she also starred in. She appeared in a scene as the mother of Adam Sandler's character in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, but it was deleted in the feature film. It is however, included in the special features on disc.

Kazan returned to Broadway to recreate her film role for the musical adaptation of My Favorite Year, earning a Tony Award nomination for her performance. More recently she completed a stint in The Vagina Monologues. She has also appeared in regional productions of A Little Night Music, Man of La Mancha, Gypsy, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Hello, Dolly!, and Fiddler on the Roof, among others. In 1984, she made a guest appearance on Faerie Tale Theatre episode Pinocchio as Sophia the Blue Fairy.

In recent years, Kazan has kept busy performing on concert stages and in Las Vegasmarker and Atlantic Citymarker showrooms.



  1. Lainie Kazan Goes Back to Her Roots - New York Times
  3. j. - Lainie Kazan bringing cabaret classics to S.F

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