Kathleen Freeman’s introduction to show business came very early in life. Her parents were vaudevillians, and she made her debut at age 2 in their act. Later she attended UCLA with intentions of becoming a pianist, but was bitten by the acting bug and never looked back. She gained experience on stage in various stock and repertory companies, and made her film debut in 1948. One of the most memorable character actresses in recent memory, her stocky build, incredibly expressive face and hearty laugh have kept audiences convulsed for decades, playing a variety of neighborhood gossips, busybodies and eccentrics. Memorable as Sister Mary Stigmata (“The Penguin”), Dan Aykroyd’s and John Belushi’s nemesis, in The Blues Brothers (1980). She was used as a comic foil by Jerry Lewis in many of his films, always to great advantage. She did much television work, playing in everything from The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961) to Gomer Pyle: USMC (1964) to Hogan’s Heroes (1965) to Married… with Children (1987), where she was the voice of Peg’s monstrous but never-seen mother, Al Bundy’s nemesis. She was working on Broadway in a production of “The Full Monty” when she died of lung cancer in 2001.
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