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Kathleen Freeman

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Kathleen Freeman (born February 17, 1919 - died August 23, 2001) provided the voice for Peg's Mom on Married with Children. A talented, funny comedic film, television, and stage actress, Kathleen, in a career that spanned more than fifty years, portrayed tart maids, secretaries, teachers, busybodies, nurses, and battle-axe neighbors, almost invariably to comic effect.

Early life and careerEdit

Born and raised in Chicago, young Kathleen began her career as a child, dancing in her parents' vaudeville act. After a stint studying music at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), she went into acting full time, working on the stage, and finally entering films in 1948. She was a founding member, in 1946, of the Circle Players at The Circle Theatre, now known as El Centro Theatre.

Kathleen's most notable early role was an uncredited part in the 1952 musical Singin' in the Rain, as Jean Hagen's articulate diction coach Phoebe Dinsmore. In 1954, Freeman played receptionist Miss Seely for lawyer Adam Calhorn Shaw (Edmund Purdom) in Athena. Beginning with the 1955 film Artists and Models, Freeman became a favorite foil of Jerry Lewis, playing opposite him in 11 films.[1] These included most of Lewis's better known comedies, including The Disorderly Orderly as Nurse Higgins, The Errand Boy as the studio boss's wife, and especially The Nutty Professor as Millie Lemon. Over 30 years later, she made a small cameo appearance in Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, a sequel to the remake of the Lewis film.

Freeman appeared from the 1950s until her death in regular or recurring roles on many sitcoms, including six episodes of The Bob Cummings Show (as Bertha Krause), Topper] (as Katie the maid), and The Donna Reed Show (as Mrs. Celia Wilgus, the Stone's busybody next-door neighbor, with Howard McNear as her husband, Wilbur). She was cast on Hogan's Heroes (as Frau Gertrude Linkmeyer, General Burkhalter's sister, who longed to wed Colonel Klink), The Sandy Duncan Show/Funny Face (as Mrs. Kate Harwell, Sandy's landlady and friend), I Dream of Jeannie (as a grouchy supervisor in a false preview of Maj. Nelson's future), and the short-lived prehistoric sitcom It's About Time (as Mrs. Boss).

Voice workEdit

In later years, Kathleen also worked extensively as a voice actress, playing Ma Crackshell on DuckTales, a Theban woman in Disney's Hercules, and fortune teller Madame Xima in the video game Curse of Monkey Island, and as the voice of Peg Bundy's mom, an unseen character on MWC; Kathleen was tapped to provide her voice several years after the producers' original choice to play Peg's mother in live action, during the show's second season, female impersonator/drag queen Divine, died shortly before production began on the episode which he was scheduled to appear in.

Freeman remained active in her last two years, with a regular voice role on As Told By Ginger, a voice bit in the animated feature film Shrek, a guest appearance on the CBS-TV sitcom Becker and, most notably, scoring a Tony Award nomination and a Theater World Award for her role of accompanist Jeannette Burmeister in the Broadway musical version of The Full Monty.

In her final episode of As Told By Ginger, Season 2's "No Hope For Courtney", Freeman's character, Mrs. Gordon, retires from her teaching job though two of her students try convincing her to return to work. The script was originally written to have Mrs. Gordon come back to work, but Freeman died before the episode was finished. The script was then re-written to make her character die as well. The episode was dedicated in her memory.

DeathEdit

Weakened by illness, Kathleen reluctantly left Broadway's Full Monty cast on August 18, 2001. Five days later, she died of lung cancer at age 82. Her ashes are preserved in an urn in a niche at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, CA.

ReferencesEdit

  1. "Jerry Lewis tells it like it is — and was", USA Today, 29 August 2002. retrieved 6 March 2009.

External linksEdit

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