Kay Medford

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Kay Medford
Kay Medford 1963.JPG
Medford in 1963.
Born Margaret Kathleen O'Regan (or Kathleen Patricia O'Regan)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died April 10, 1980
New York City, New York, U.S.
Years active 1942-1980 (her death)

Kay Medford (September 14, 1914 (disputed; some sources cite 1919 or 1920)  – April 10, 1980) was an American character actress and comedienne.

Life and career[edit]

She was born either Margaret Kathleen O'Regan[1] or Kathleen Patricia O'Regan[2] in New York City to James and Mary (née Kelly) O'Regan, first-generation Irish-American parents. She was orphaned in her teens. She adopted the name "Kay Medford" professionally, and began her career after graduating from high school and working as a nightclub waitress.

She was the original "Mama" in Bye Bye Birdie, starring opposite Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera on Broadway, garnering excellent reviews, but lost the film role to Maureen Stapleton. Medford appeared in the Warner Bros. rock and roll film, Jamboree (1957), in which she played the manager of singer Pete Porter, played by Paul Carr. Medford made her Broadway debut in 1951 in the musical Paint Your Wagon.

She was cast in Carousel, before she appeared on stage in Funny Girl as the mother of Fanny Brice (played by Barbra Streisand); for this performance she was nominated for a 1964 Tony Award for Featured Actress (Musical),[3] and when she repeated the role in the 1968 film adaptation, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.[4]

Medford was cast in guest-starring role on various television series, including the 1958 Beverly Garland syndicated crime drama, Decoy. From 1969-1970, she co-starred opposite John Forsythe in the CBS sitcom, To Rome With Love. Medford also had a leading role on NBC's The Dean Martin Show for several years.


Kay Medford never married. She died from cervical cancer in New York City in 1980.


  1. ^ Name of birth as per Medford's file clippings, 3rd floor, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center
  2. ^ Obituary, The Sun Journal, April 11, 1980 (archived); accessed October 17, 2014.
  3. ^ Stevenson, Isabelle; Somlyo, Roy A., eds. (2001). The Tony Award (revised ed.). Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. p. 50. ISBN 0-325-00294-0. 
  4. ^ Kay Medford IMDb profile

External links[edit]