Kay Ballard-Celebrity history.
Actress Kay Ballard was a frequent visitor to Fire Island. Both in Cherry Grove and the Pines. She performed in the Pines in both the 1980’s and 90’s.
Catherine Gloria Balotta also known as Kay Ballard was born in Cleveland. She began her career as a musical comedienne as a member of Spike Jones’ touring revue in the 1940s. Her mother had often made use of the refrain”Good luck with your mouth!” when Ballard was as child, and it became her catchphrase in live performance and on television.
She made her Broadway debut in the original musical comedy “The Golden Apple” in 1954. She starred with Anna Maria Alberghetti and Jerry Orbach in the puppet-oriented musical comedy “Carnival!” in 1962-63. In 1963 she starred in the musical revue “The Beast in Me” with Bert Convy, among others.
Her next Broadway role, in 1961, was also in an atypical musical: “Carnival!,” with music and lyrics by Bob Merrill and a book by Michael Stewart. Unlike “The Golden Apple,” though, this one enjoyed a sustained Broadway run, lasting almost two years. Ms. Ballard was the Incomparable Rosalie, a magician’s assistant. For one song, “Always, Always You,” she was in a basket into which her boss, Marco the Magnificent (James Mitchell), kept thrusting swords.
She made her screen debut in the early days of television, with appearances on “The Mel Torme Show” and “Henry Morgan’s Great Talent Hunt” in 1951. She guested repeatedly on “The Colgate Comedy Hour,” “The Gary Moore Show,” “The Jack Paar Tonight Show” and “The Ed Sullivan Show”
She was in one television special with a noteworthy theatrical pedigree: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” created for CBS. It featured Julie Andrews in the lead; Ms. Ballard and Alice Ghostleyy played the stepsisters. Its one broadcast, on March 31, 1957, drew an estimated audience of 107 million, a record at the time.
Ballard’s career spanned stage and screen, and she was a star on Broadway when she was paired with Arden as neighbors whose kids get married on “The Mothers-in-Law,” which ran on NBC from 1967-69 and later in syndication.
On the show Ballard played Katherine “Kaye” Josephina Buell, the overly emotional wife of Roger Buell (played by Roger C. Carmel) and overprotective mother of Jerry Buell (Jerry Fogel). She was an unenthusiastic housewife, frequently spoke in Italian, and smacked her spouse when she got annoyed with him. Kaye’s catch phrases included “Oh, Reeeeally?,” “Good luck with your mouth!” (a phrase Ballard had long used in live performance and on TV), “This, this, is the thanks I get!” and “Yes, yes, I am!”
After “The Mothers-in-Law,” she continued doing television work but also worked in theater and did cabaret.
From 1970-72 Ballard recurred on “The Doris Day Show” as Angie Pallucci who, with her husband (played by Bernie Kopell), ran the Italian restaurant below Doris’ apartment.
In 1973, after her TV work had helped raise her profile, Ballard played the title character in the original musical “Molly,” which was based on the seminal radio and TV series “The Goldbergs,” but its run was brief.
In Richard Lester’s 1976 feature adaptation of McNally’s Broadway hit “The Ritz,” about a man fleeing Mafia assassins who hides in a gay bathhouse, Ballard played Vivian Proclo, starring along with Jack Weston, Jerry Stiller and Rita Moreno.
Also in 1976 she played Coach Betsy in the Jodie Foster version of “Freaky Friday.” TV work during this time included guesting repeatedly on “Love, American Style” and later “The Love Boat” and appearing on “Alice.” In 1983 Ballard appeared as the Duchess in a PBS “Great Performances” adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland.”
Despite her name recognition, Ms. Ballard knew that she was never an A-list star. Instead, she viewed herself as being in the honorable second tier of performers who work hard but might not achieve lasting fame.
The Rancho Mirage, California resident performed with the Palm Spring Follies show, and was out-and-about doing her one-woman cabaret show belting out the good old songs and retracing her burlesque-styled comedy roots. A survivor of breast cancer, the never-married veteran showed no signs of slowing down. She died in her Rancho Mirage home on January 21, 2019.
A new documentary about her career by Dan Wingate, “Kaye Ballard — The Show Goes On!,” was screened at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.