The Illustrious Career of Madeline Kahn

Here it is, in all of its glory: my complete compilation of everything I know of that Madeline was in. Films, television programs, stage work, even an early radio program, it's all here. As far as I know, it is complete; but if I have left anything out, feel free to contact me and let me know. I'm still working on it right now, but when it is finished, each item will have either a brief description of what it is or a link to its own page.

CHILDREN'S HOUR (date unknown) -- A New York amateur radio show Madeline was on as a child. She and a young friend named Jimmy sang the song "Cool Water."

KISS ME KATE (1965) -- This City Center revival of the well-known Cole Porter musical earned Madeline her entrance into Actors' Equity; she was a chorus girl.

NEW FACES OF 1968 (1968) -- This was Madeline's first Broadway break, and critics called her "extremely funny," with "a strong voice and incisive personality." One of the highlights was a Brecht-Weill parody called "Das Chicago Song."

CANDIDE (1968) -- A special performance of this Leonard Bernstein musical was given at Lincoln Center on Bernstein's fiftieth birthday. Madeline played Cunegonde, the female lead.

THE DOVE (1968) -- This was Madeline's film debut, but it isn't a full-length feature film; her first "movie" would not arrive until four years later. This was a short film, and a terrific one at that -- a foreign film spoof in a hilarious mock Swedish dialect. George Coe stars, and Madeline plays his character's introverted cousin Sigfrid. This is hysterically funny, but very hard to find, if not impossible.

PROMENADE (1969) -- An off-Broadway musical Madeline was in. Her performance of the Gershwin-flavored "Listen, I Feel" reportedly received more applause than any of the show's other songs. The cast recording has recently been reissued on CD, but unfortunately, by the time the show was recorded, Madeline and costar George S. Irving had already left the cast. However, the booklet does contain a few pictures of Madeline performing this early role in her career.

COMEDY TONIGHT (1970) -- This was apparently a television variety series Madeline was in. Beyond that, I know nothing.

TWO BY TWO (1970)

WHAT'S UP, DOC? (1972)

MAN OF LA MANCHA (1972) -- A studio cast recording of the musical "Man of La Mancha," starring Jim Nabors as Don Quixote De La Mancha, Marilyn Horne as Aldonza, and the late, great Jack Gilford as Sancho Panza. Madeline Kahn sings the role of Don's niece Antonia, and performs the song "I'm Only Thinking of Him" with Richard Tucker and Irene Clark.

THE HIDEAWAYS (1973) -- Personally, I think this film kind of drags... but that's probably because Madeline is only in it for about two minutes. They are two hilarious minutes, of course. Madeline plays a schoolteacher harriedly escorting her class through a museum, and she has all the mannerisms down. Her scene is fabulous; the rest of the film could use some work.

PAPER MOON (1973) -- Madeline's second film for director Peter Bogdanovich; it also reunites her with "What's Up Doc?" costar Ryan O'Neal. Here, she plays Trixie Delight, who becomes involved with Moses Pray (Ryan O'Neal), much to the disdain of his young companion Addie (O'Neal's real-life daughter Tatum). Madeline absolutely steals the show the entire time she's on. She got her first Oscar nomination for this film, but lost to her costar Tatum O'Neal.



BOOM BOOM ROOM (1974) -- This was another Broadway play of Madeline's; she played the role of Chrissy and got her very first Tony nomination for it.




WON TON TON, THE DOG WHO SAVED HOLLYWOOD (1976) -- This is a comical movie about a fictional dog star and his rise to fame and fortune. Madeline plays the actress who finds him, and Bruce Dern plays the would-be filmmaker who discovers them both. Also starring Art Carney, Teri Garr, Ron Leibman, and a TON of celebrity cameos.

MARCO POLO SINGS A SOLO (1977) -- This was a stage comedy at Manhattan's Public Theater. Madeline starred as an unfaithful wife in the year 1999.

SHE LOVES ME (1977) -- A concert performance of this musical was given at Town Hall, with Madeline in the role of the shopgirl who finally finds her love.

THE MUPPET SHOW (1977) -- A delightful episode. Madeline sings a funny little song about feet, and performs in a hilarious sketch with a very inconsiderate monster. Meanwhile, backstage, Gonzo falls in love with Madeline. (Who can blame him?)


HIGH ANXIETY (1977) -- This hilarious spoof of Alfred Hitchcock movies was Madeline's third film for director Mel Brooks. In this one Mel also takes the lead role as Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke, and Madeline costars as Victoria Brisbane. Very funny. Also present are frequent Brooks associates Cloris Leachman and Harvey Korman.

ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY (1978) -- A Broadway musical about the tempestuous relationship between actress Lily Garland (Madeline) Broadway producer Oscar Jaffee (John Cullum). Madeline got a Tony nomination for her performance, and costars Cullum and Kevin Kline got Tonys. I have the CD of this show, and it is very good. The music is by Cy Coleman, and the lyrics are by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

THE CHEAP DETECTIVE (1978) -- A Humphrey Bogart spoof starring Peter Falk and written by Neil Simon. Madeline plays one of the many women Falk's character Lou Peckinpaugh encounters in the film, a mysterious woman known by a vast array of aliases that only a Madeline Kahn fanatic would list in their entirety. So here they are: Carmen Montenegro, Denise Manderley, Natasha Oublenskaya, Sophie DeVega, Wanda Coleman, Chloe LaMarr, Alma Chalmers, Alma Palmers, Vivien Purcell, Mary Jones, Lady Edwina Morgan St. Paul, Gilda Dabney, Diane Glucksman, Norma Shearer, and Barbara Stanwyck.

THE MUPPET MOVIE (1979) -- The Muppets' first of three big screen outings featured a host of celebrity cameos. Madeline was one of them, playing a bar patron.

WHOLLY MOSES! (1980) -- A Biblical spoof starring Dudley Moore and Laraine Newman. Madeline has a cameo as an old merchant who gives Moore's character a ride on her cart.

SIMON (1980) -- A satire about a man, Simon (Alan Arkin), who is brainwashed into thinking he is from another planet. Clever movie; Madeline has a small but pivotal role as one of the scientists working on Simon.








CITY HEAT (1984)

CLUE (1985)




IRVING BERLIN'S 100th BIRTHDAY PARTY (1988) -- A televised gala at Carnegie Hall celebrating the music of Irving Berlin. This was Madeline's first appearance at Carnegie Hall. Also performing at the concert were Nell Carter, Tommy Tune, Willie Nelson, Bea Arthur, and Michael Feinstein.

BORN YESTERDAY (1989) -- this Broadway revival of the classic Garson Kanin comedy snagged Madeline her third Best Actress Tony nomination.


ROAD TO AVONLEA (1991) -- Well, apparently, Madeline guest-starred on this series as Pigeon Plumtree. I myself never caught it.



THE SISTERS ROSENSWEIG (1993) -- After three unsuccessful Tony nominations, Madeline finally won a Best Actress Tony for playing Gorgeous in "The Sisters Rosensweig." Starring opposite her were Jane Alexander, who was nominated alongside Madeline, and Robert Klein.

DR. SEUSS' SLEEP BOOK (1993) -- Video version of the Dr. Seuss classic, narrated by Madeline.

MIXED NUTS (1994) -- Nora Ephron's critically lambasted Christmas comedy, featuring the all-star cast of Steve Martin, Madeline, Robert Klein, Anthony LaPaglia, Juliette Lewis, Rob Reiner, Adam Sandler, Jon Stewart, Parker Posey, and Garry Shandling. I will never understand what so many people disliked about this movie; at my house, it is a Christmas staple. Madeline has never been funnier than she is in the seemingly improvised elevator scene, which alone is worth seeing the movie for.

SESAME STREET: PUT DOWN THE DUCKIE (1994) -- An all-star Sesame Street special. The title comes from a sequence in which Ernie has trouble mastering playing the saxophone and he is given the sage musical advice Put Down the Duckie by Hoots the Owl and a bevy of celebrities in cameos: Madeline, Paul Simon, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Jane Curtin, Wynton Marsalis, Jeremy Irons, Pee-Wee Herman and many more. Celebrity guests in other scenes include Gladys Knight and the Pips, Patti LaBelle, Barbara Walters, and James Taylor.


NEW YORK NEWS (1995) -- An intriguing CBS newspaper drama that unfortunately didn't have much of a chance -- CBS scheduled it opposite "Seinfeld" and left it there. Most people probably never knew it existed, which is a shame: Madeline provided more than her share of comic relief as gossip columnist Nan Chase, and Mary Tyler Moore was great, playing against type as editor Louise Felcott, aka "The Dragon Lady."

NIXON (1995) -- Oliver Stone's latest political epic, the story of President Richard M. Nixon. Madeline turns up all too briefly as Martha Mitchell.


LONDON SUITE (1996) -- I managed to get this on tape, and it is really funny. It is based on Neil Simon's off-Broadway play, a series of vignettes following various unrelated characters around London. Madeline's is about an American named Sharon Semple (Madeline) traveling with her daughter and eventually meeting a man (Richard Mulligan). It's very entertaining.

FOR LOVE ALONE (1996) -- The TV movie based on Ivana Trump's book. I did not see this one... I heard it was coming on, but I did not read ANYTHING about Madeline being in it until recently on the Internet. Maybe it will be rerun someday.

DANNY KAYE: A LEGACY OF LAUGHTER (1996) -- The Internet Movie Database said Madeline was in this, so I have it listed... I certainly don't know what it is... well, obviously it is some sort of tribute to the late Danny Kaye. Madeline probably offered some commentary on the experience of costarring with Mr. Kaye in "Two by Two."

COSBY (1996)

CLASSICAL ACTION: PERFORMING ARTS AGAINST AIDS (1998) -- Madeline and Nathan Lane co-hosted this benefit concert at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on January 10. This concert marked the fifth anniversary of Classical Action as well as the organization's new collaboration with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The evening included performances by violinst Johsua Bell, pianist Fred Hersch, dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones, bassist Edgar Meyer, pianist Ursula Oppens, clarinetist David Shifrin, the Orion String Quartet, the sendup troupe Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and the soprano Dawn Upshaw.

DOIN' WHAT COMES NATUR'LLY (1998) -- In February 1998, Madeline joined Patti LuPone, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, Bette Midler, Debra Monk and Elaine Stritch -- what a lineup!! -- in a concert tribute to Ethel Merman. Madeline, who was introduced as the woman who won a Tony for being Gorgeous, performed Cole Porter's "Down in the Depths, on the 90th Floor," which she had previously performed in the film AT LONG LAST LOVE. (The song was originally from "Red, Hot and Blue!")

A BUG'S LIFE (1998) -- This came out theatrically last November and was released on video and DVD April 20. It is a computer-animated film done in the same style as the very successful "Toy Story." Madeline voices the character of Gypsy Moth; other voices in this amazing cast are provided by Denis Leary, Kevin Spacey, Bonnie Hunt, Dave Foley, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Phyllis Diller, and David Hyde Pierce. This film was a box office success, and reportedly the geniuses at Pixar are already working on a sequel.

JUDY BERLIN (1999) -- Madeline's latest film, a black-and-white independent picture also starring Bob Dishy, Barbara Barrie, Edie Falco, Julie Kavner and Anne Meara. According to the film's director, Eric Mendelsohn, Madeline agreed to do the picture on the condition that she be allowed to do something other than broad comedy. Though there is not yet a general release date for the film, it made quite a splash at the Sundance Film Festival in January, where Mendelsohn won the "Best Director" prize.

FRANK LOESSER REVISITED (date unknown) -- This was a CD release on which Madeline performed the song Rumble Rumble Rumble.

SESAME STREET (date unknown) -- Special guest Madeline sings Be My Echo with Grover.

HELLO, DOLLY! (date unknown) -- At some point, Madeline toured onstage as Dolly Levi in this well-known musical. Unfortunately, this is all I know about it. Sadly, I don't think it was on Broadway -- I would most certainly love to have been able to hear it.

DEAR WORLD (?) -- A 30th anniversary revival of Jerry Herman's musical is in the planning stages for the 1999-2000 season by the Roundabout Theater Company. Chita Rivera has been pegged to star; Madeline, Debra Monk, Audra MacDonald, and Alfred Molina are scheduled to take supporting roles. I was able to speak to someone fortunate enough to see the workshop of this performance, and they informed me that Madeline was terrific in the role of Gabrielle the madwoman.

Ben Phillips