|Marriage between 2 actors CAN work, as the|
Connells proved. Theirs was one of the most
enduring matches in the theatre, lasting 65 years.
After meeting and marrying her husband, Gordon Connell, in San Francisco, the couple moved to New York, where Jane made her Off-Broadway debut in the prestigious revival of The Threepenny Opera at Theatre de Lys (now the Lucille Lortel).
|Jane's Broadway debut was with the auspicious cast|
of New Faces of 1956. Maggie Smith, Eartha Kitt,
Inga Swenson, Paul Lynde, Alice Ghostly, and
Carol Lawrence were also in the company.
Our Jane was to play very few leading roles, though she snagged one of the best early in her career. She took Once upon A Mattress, playing the role Carol Burnett originated, to London, where she apparently received good notices. Alas and Alack, the Brits did not appreciate the show itself, and it only lasted a month.
Connell was to appear frequently on Broadway, lending support in such pieces as Drat! The Cat!, Dear World, Crazy For You, Lend Me A Tenor, and more.
|In Dear World, Jerry Herman's musical|
adaptation of The Madwoman of
Chaillot, Jane was in support to
Angela Lansbury. The show failed, but
the partnership of
Connell/Herman/Lansbury must be
deemed a success due to their
She played opposite her husband in Lysistrata (starring Melina Mercouri) and The Good Doctor, and when original star Kathleen Freeman suddenly died, Jane took over her role in The Full Monty. Surely, though, Jane is best remembered for her performance as mousy secretary/nanny Agnes Gooch in the original production of Mame.
|They needed a little Christmas, and they got it. While Mame, Gooch, Ito, and Patrick longed for some holiday cheer, the show elevated Jane Connell to the top tier of musical comedy supporting players.|
Among many others, she guest starred in the two-parter from season 8 of All in the Family; "Edith's 50th Birthday" is remembered as "the rape episode," in which Edith is attacked in her own house while the family is next door planning a surprise party. Connell played a grouchy neighbor in this and a few other episodes.
Connell's lone Tony nomination came in 1986, twenty years after she first made a splash in Mame (she lost the award to one of those Les Miz gals, who can tell them apart?).
|Lindsay's London leading lady was not allowed|
to play her role on Broadway, as Equity did not
consider her a big enough star to rob an
American actress of the role. Recognize her?
She's Emma Thompson.
This week's Dance Party is plucked from Me And My Girl, and it certainly illustrates how star Robert Lindsay charmed the audience. Unfortunately, Jane Connell can only be glimpsed briefly in this clip, doing her "disapproving society matron" bit. But it's still a fun number.
|Jane's signature role in Mame was preserved, sort of, in the lousy film version. Though both she and her costar Bea Arthur recreated their stage successes, nothing could save Mame from Lucy (I wrote about the film Mame here).|