Kaye Ballard, Star of Stage and Screen, Dies at 93
Actress, Singer and Comedienne Kaye Ballard died today, January 22, 2019, peacefully at home in Rancho Mirage, CA at age 93 after a brief illness.
Her death was confirmed by her longtime attorney, Mark Sendroff. Kaye was born Catherine Gloria Ballota in Cleveland, one of 4 children of Vincent and Lena Ballota and raised by her beloved Nana, Gabriella.
She graduated from West Tech High School in Cleveland with a scholarship in Fine Arts, but instead chose to pursue a career in show business, starting in vaudeville, which lead to her "big break" when Spike Jones invited her to play a "trick tuba" (as opposed to the flute, on which she was proficient) with his touring band. Her touring days lead to an enduring career as a concert and nightclub star (at the Blue Angel, The Bon Soir and Michael's Pub in New York, Mr. Kelly's in Chicago, The Hungry I and The Purple Onion in San Francisco and numerous clubs and concert halls across America and Europe), recording artist (having introduced three standards, "Maybe This Time," "Fly Me To The Moon" and "Lazy Afternoon"), television star (CINDERELLA, THE MEL TORME SHOW, THE PERRY COMO SHOW, THE DORIS DAY SHOW, countless talk and game show appearances, but best known for co-starring with Eve Arden in THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW, directed and produced by Desi Arnaz) and Broadway star (THE GOLDEN APPLE, CARNIVAL, MOLLY, PIRATES OF PENZANCE).
A super-fan of the movies from the time she first ushered at the Palace Theatre in Cleveland, Kaye was seen on the big screen in such films as FREAKY FRIDAY, THE GIRL MOST LIKELY, WHICH WAY TO THE FRONT and THE RITZ, among others. She lived her final years happily in the house she bought from Desi Arnaz on a street which was ultimately named for her-Kaye Ballard Lane. She knew and worked with every legend of 20th Century entertainment and was devoted to the encouragement of rising talent and the protection and well-being of pets.
Ironically, her passing coincides with the initial exhibition last week at the Palm Springs Film Festival of a documentary about her life and career entitled THE SHOW GOES ON!, which she proudly attended. When told of the Audience Favorite Award the film was given, she responded by saying that she can now die a happy woman.