New Madeline Kahn Biography in the Works

Stage and film actress MADELINE KAHN is the subject of a new biography, MADELINE KAHN: Being the Music • A Life (University Press of Mississippi), by William V. Madison. The biography explores both the career & personal life of the award-winning actress.

Born in Boston in 1942, Madeline Kahn "was one of the most popular comedians of her time & one of the least understood," Madison writes, "as reserved & refined as her characters were bold & bawdy." She was often ambivalent about a performing career & she complained of typecasting, beginning when she was a college student. Trained as an opera singer, she made her New York debut in nightclub revues before going on to Broadway & Hollywood. Best known for her work with directors Mel Brooks & Peter Bogdanovich, she was nominated for Oscars for best supporting actress in 1973 & 1974 for Paper Moon & Blazing Saddles, won a Daytime Emmy in 1987 & received a Tony Award in 1993, for her performance as Gorgeous Teitelbaum in Wendy Wasserstein's The Sisters Rosensweig.

Almost a Method actor in her approach, Kahn took her work seriously. When crewmembers and audiences laughed, she asked why, as if they were laughing at her & all her life she remained unsure of her gifts. Madison examines Kahn's film career, including not only her triumphs with Mel Brooks & Peter Bogdanovich, but also her overlooked performances in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother & Judy Berlin (her final film) & her work in television. Madison explores the paramount importance of music in Kahn's life. A talented singer, she entertained offers for operatic engagements long after she was an established Hollywood star & treated each script as a score. As Kahn told a friend, her ambition was "to be the music." Kahn died of ovarian cancer in New York City, on December 3, 1999.

William V. Madison is a former producer at CBS News & a former Associate Editor of Opera News. He was also the lone production assistant on the Broadway musical Rags in 1986. A native Texan, Madison is a graduate of Brown University & the Creative Writing Program at Columbia University's School of the Arts. He resides in New York City.

Related Articles

More Hot Stories For You

Before you go...

Like Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Instagram instagram
   
popup