From Simka Gravas on Taxi to Lillian on the Netflix original series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, American actress and comedian Carol Kane has continued to rack up tons of acting credits. She set out on stage as a teenager in the 60s before transitioning to the screen where she has always played interesting characters.
Some of her most iconic works include Hester Street (for which she received an Academy Award nomination), Annie Hall, The World Greatest Lover, The Princess Bride, and the TV series Taxi for which she earned two Emmy Awards for her performance.
Carol Kane – Bio
The comedienne was given the birth name, Carolyn Laurie Kane after her birth on the 18th of June 1952 in Cleveland, Ohio, the United States. She was born to a Jewish family headed by Michael Myron Kane, an architect, and his wife, Elaine Joy (née Fetterman) who is a jazz singer, teacher, dancer, and pianist. Unfortunately, they divorced when Carol was only 12. Her grandparents were Russian immigrants and she also has Poland and Austrian heritage.
Carol Kane studied at Cherry Lawn School in Darien, Connecticut, until 1965. After that, she studied theatre at HB Studio, as well as attended the Professional Children’s School in New York City. At the age of 14, in 1966, Kane made her professional acting debut in a theatre production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
Since her acting debut, Kane has gone on to appear in both films and on television shows. She has also recorded other interesting works in theatre including the off-Broadway play Love, Loss, and What I Wore in February 2010. The following year, she made her West End debut in January. It was in a major revival of Lillian Hellman’s drama The Children’s Hour, at Comedy Theatre, London. Keira Knightley, Elisabeth Moss, and Ellen Burstyn also starred in the drama.
Kane appeared on Broadway in 2012 where she featured as Betty Chumlee in a revival of the play Harvey. In 2005, she went on the road, starring in the musical Wicked as the evil headmistress Madame Morrible. She has reprised the role in various productions including Los Angeles production and the San Francisco production from 2005 to 2014.
Movies and TV Shows
While Carol Kane rates Wedding in White (1972) and Hester Street (1975) as her two best films over the years, she has amassed a wide range of works on TV and film in addition to her experience on the stage.
She made her TV debut in 1974 with the television film, We, the Woman as Susannah White after which she appeared in a number of other roles both in TV films and shows. They include Visions, Great Performances, The Greatest Man in the World, Laverne & Shirley, An Invasion of Privacy, and American Playhouse.
Kane’s breakthrough came in 1981 when she landed one of her most notable television roles. She played the role of Simka Dahblitz-Gravas, wife of Latka Gravas on the series Taxi until 1983. Her performance earned her two Emmy Awards, among other awards and nominations. While she was on the show, she starred in five films including The Games of Countess Dolingen and Strong Medicine both in 1981, Pandemonium (1982), Norman Loves Rose (1982) for which she was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role in AFI Award. In 1983, she also acted in the comedy film Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?
Her first film role was as Jennifer in the 70s in Carnal Knowledge in 1971. Before the year ran out, she had another role in Desperate Characters. In 1972, Carol Kane played the role of a raped teenager, Jeannie Dougall who became pregnant and was married off to an older man in the acclaimed Canadian film, Wedding in White. The next year, she starred in The Last Detail before playing her Oscar-nominated role as Giti, in Hester Street in 1975. She also appeared in Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976).
In 1977, she starred in the Woody Allen-directed Oscar-winning film Annie Hall, co-starring Diane Keaton in the titular role. She also featured in Valentino, The World’s Greatest Lover, The Mafu Cage in 1978, The Muppet Movie, When a Stranger Calls, and La Sabina all in 1979.
Carol Kane has remained active on the acting scene with more interesting roles. She had regular roles on the NBC series’ All Is Forgiven and American Dreamer, a recurring role on Gotham, and a supporting role in the short-lived sitcom Pearl. From 2015 to 2019, she portrayed Lillian Kaushtupper, the landlord to the title character of Netflix’s original series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She has also had voice roles in animated series such as F is for Family, Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, and Star vs. the Forces of Evil and is set to appear as Mindy Markowitz in the upcoming drama web TV series The Hunt.
Her other film credits include My First Mister (2001), The Pacifier (2005), co-starring Vin Diesel, The Bounty Hunter (2010) with Jennifer Aniston, the 2012 indie film, Sleepwalk with Me, Ava’s Possession (2015), The Sisters Brothers and the upcoming movie, The Dead Don’t Die (2019). Carol Kane starred as Mimi in the music video for Chaka Khan‘s song This is My Night (1985).
Carol Kane Husband
Carol Kane has never been married. Besides Woody Harrelson who she dated in 1986, she has not been linked to any other man, past or present. Nevertheless, sometime in 2015, she was rumored to be married after a ring was spotted on her ring finger. She neither confirmed nor denied the speculation but has managed to keep her private life out of the prying eyes of the media.
She enjoys spending time with her dog, Johnny, and her mom who she describes as wonderful, brilliant, and creative.
Facts You Should Know About The Actress
1. She is 1.58 meters tall.
2. Apart from her stage and screen performances, Kane is also known for her small raspy voice, curly hair, and wide-eyed expression.
3. She is fluent in the French language
4. Tina Fey coached her personally for her role as Lillian on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Moreover, she was Fey’s first and only choice for the role.
5. Before fame, Carol Kane worked for Backstage magazine, putting mailers in envelopes, licking them close, and putting stamps on them.
6. Five of the films she has acted in have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. They include Hester Street (1975), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Annie Hall (1977), The Muppet Movie (1979), and The Princess Bride (1987).