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Remembering Madeline Kahn | Village Voice


Remembering Madeline Kahn


One of the most inspired comic entertainers in modern history, Madeline Kahn (1942-1999) was a joy in everything from Mel Brooks and Peter Bogdanovich films to Broadway plays (Sisters Rosenzweig, Born Yesterday) to The Muppet Show, for Chrissake.

Madeline had a wry way with a line reading that was unparalleled, and when you mixed that with a vampy sex appeal and a wanton willingness to mock it, you had an unbeatable package of sardonic delight.

She could play a floozie, a dominatrix, or a femme fatale, always with rat-tat-tat delivery and wit that made her characters way more textured than they seemed.

And she could segue from a flitty speaking voice to a powerhouse soprano at the drop of a false eyelash! The woman could sing!

Madeline also had a very healthy sense of her own talent.

I once saw her saying in a TV interview that she’d always been able to make even the worst material soar, and that’s why she got good reviews even in lousy movies.

I thought that was incredibly nervy until realizing, “She’s right! She can elevate anything! If I were a director, I’d beg this woman to play any part just to guarantee there’d be SOMETHING extraordinary in my production.”

By the way, there was no particular hook to this post, but I feel it’s important to remember the greats every once in a while before going back to Taylor Lautner dish.

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