Lydia Cornell

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Lydia Cornell
LydiaCornell white 2007.JPG
Born Lydia Korniloff
(1953-07-23) July 23, 1953 (age 61)
El Paso, Texas, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and Arts
University of Colorado Boulder
Occupation Actress
Years active 1980–present
Spouse(s) Paul Hayeland (2002-2010, divorced)

Lydia Cornell (born July 23, 1953) is an American actress, writer, novelist, comedienne, blogger, and talk-radio host.

Early life and family[edit]

Cornell was born as Lydia Korniloff in El Paso, Texas, the eldest daughter of concert violinists Irma Jean Stowe, a great granddaughter of Harriet Beecher Stowe,[1][2] and Gregory Jacob Korniloff,[3] (born 30 January 1917 in Vladivostok; died May 1977), a graduate of the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and Arts, who was later assistant concertmaster of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra,[4] Cornell is the oldest sister of Paul Korniloff, a piano prodigy who died of an overdose of narcotics, and Kathryn "Kathy" Korniloff, co-founder of the band Two Nice Girls,[5][6] and since 1995 a sound designer and composer.[7]

While a nine-year old fourth grade student at Mesita Elementary School, Cornell was chosen as El Paso's Little Miss Cotton in March 1963.[3][8][9] In 1966 Cornell and her family moved to Scarsdale, New York, where she attended both Scarsdale Junior High School[3][10] and Scarsdale High School, graduating in 1971.[11] Her class mates included Dan Biederman and Eve Ensler.

About 1972 Cornell enrolled at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she eventually studied drama, English, Russian, and Spanish and Anthropology.[12][13] During the summer between Sophomore and Junior year in college, she worked at the famed recording studio Caribou Ranch in Nederland, Colorado[citation needed]. She met Billy Joel, Dennis Wilson, Carol King, Joni Mitchell, David Cassidy, photographer Henry Diltz. As a Caribou Ranch photographer and "kitchen girl" she brought food to cabins (Ooray, Running Bear, the Grizzle Bear Lodge) of the rock stars including The Beach Boys, America, Chicago and Billy Joel. The Ozark Mountain Daredevils gave her a credit on their album "Men From Home." Before graduation, Cornell was the road manager for musician Michael Murphy.[3] These adventures will be described in an upcoming humor book series Cornell is writing[citation needed]. In May 1976 Cornell graduated from UC Boulder with a Bachelor of Science in Business, with majors in both advertising and English/drama.[3][12][13]

By the time of her father's death in May 1977, Cornell had joined the rest of the Korniloff family, who had been living in The Hague, the Netherlands since mid-1975.[2][14][15] Soon after her mother and siblings moved back to El Paso, Texas.

By 1978 Cornell had moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career and had a job for three months at a recording studio,[13] before being employed by Jack Webb Productions as a secretary-production assistant.[16] Still known as Lydia Korniloff, Cornell worked as an assistant to the producer on the television movie Little Mo, a biography of tennis star Maureen Connolly.[17] During production as an office girl and assistant to director George Sherman, she worked with Mark Harmon, Lana Turner, and Leslie Nielsen. The office copy boy who did deliveries for the company was Linwood Boomer who later gained fame as the creator of the TV show Malcolm in the Middle. Mark Harmon and Lydia Cornell both had the same godparent: Gail Patrick Jackson, producer of "The Perry Mason Show".

Acting career[edit]

Cornell's first screen appearance was as Lydia Kornillof in a walk-on as a girl in a car in the 1979 film Steel, produced by and starring Lee Majors. Her first professional speaking part was two lines in an episode of The Love Boat.[18] In the summer of 1980, Cornell spent nine weeks filming in the Greek Isles for her appearance the mythological horror film Blood Tide,[13][19] which featured Oscar winners James Earl Jones, Jose Ferrer and Lila Kedrova and was produced by Nico Mastorakis and Donald Langdon.[2][20] It was not released until 1982.[21][22]

Cornell's first major role was as Sara Rush, "a ditzy big-breasted blond",[23] on the ABC television situation comedy Too Close for Comfort which screened from November 11, 1980 to 1986.[24] In 1982, at the height of this show's popularity, Cornell was described by sexologist Robert T. Francoeur as providing a modern example of "classic female stereotypes in the mold of Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield.[25]

Cornell has also appeared on numerous television programs over the years, including The Love Boat (5 episodes), Charlie's Angels,[26] Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Drew Carey Show, the pilot episode of Quantum Leap,[27] Full House, Knight Rider,[28] The Dukes of Hazzard,[29] The A-Team,[30] T. J. Hooker, Simon & Simon, Hunter,[31] Hardball,[32] Black Scorpion,[33] Hotel (2 episodes), Fantasy Island, Battle of the Network Stars, Super Password (1985-1987),[34] TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes, and Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve as co-host with Anson Williams.

In 1982, as part of a USO tour, Cornell went to Beirut, Lebanon to visit American troops in the Multinational Peacekeeping Force on Christmas Eve[citation needed]. Soon after their departure from Beirut, over 250 Marines of the 24th MAU were killed there in one of the first suicide bombings. When she returned she appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America."

In 1989 Cornell provided the voice for Honi, the sixteen-year old daughter of Hägar the Horrible, in the 1989 CBS television special Hägar the Horrible: Hagar Knows Best[citation needed].

In 1999, Cornell was a Best Actress nominee at Method Fest[citation needed], which honors outstanding acting performances, for her leading role in the AFI indie "Miss Supreme Queen." Fellow nominees included Tippi Hedren (who won for "Mulligans") and Sally Kirkland.

In 2005, she wrote, produced and starred in Venus Conspiracy[citation needed], co-starring with Deborah Van Valkenburgh, who played her sister Jackie on Too Close for Comfort.

In the spring of 2010, she appeared in the Kelsey Grammer Bill Zucker Comedy Hour[citation needed], a series of improvisational vignettes.

On December 4, 2010, Cornell hosted the live stream for Variety's Power of Comedy event at The Nokia Center[citation needed], honoring Russell Brand, and benefiting the Noreen Fraser Foundation.

In 2011, she appeared in the feature film "Cats Dancing on Jupiter"[citation needed]. Upcoming films listed in IMDB include: "Thug in Love", "Way of the Urban Soul", and "The Awesome Adventures of Frankie Stargazer."

Literary and journalistic career[edit]

Cornell's self-titled blog was a 2006 and 2005 Koufax Award double nominee for best writing[citation needed], and has been called "a consistently thought-provoking firecracker of pointed socio-political commentary and observant, caustic wit." (Shotgun Reviews.)[citation needed]John Conley, a Marine combat vet, sent her his Purple Heart for her courage in standing up to Ann Coulter's "extermination speak", and about the war in Iraq.[citation needed]

Cornell's articles have appeared in The Huffington Post; Editor & Publisher; The Lone Star Iconoclast; CNN; Crooks and Liars; Sitcoms Online; Retroality; Good Housekeeping; TV Guide; Femmes Fatales; Macon Area Online;[35] and several newspapers across the nation. Her December 2005 article "Death is Sexier than Ann Coulter" [36] caused an uproar when Coulter published Cornell's home phone number and private email on the front page of her website, Subsequently, Cornell received death threats, and hate mail, but also hundreds of letters and calls in support of her statements[citation needed]. The story was subsequently picked up by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann; Editor & Publisher, Huffington Post, Crooks and Liars, CannonFire, and numerous online news sources[citation needed].

Comedy and live performances[edit]

Cornell is a humorist and comedienne, and performs stand-up comedy with Destiny (The Tonight Show, MTV, VH-1.)[citation needed] The duo did 14 shows at the Riviera Las Vegas in June 2006[citation needed]. In November, they opened for Paul Rodriguez at Pechanga, and for The Amazing Johnathan at The Sahara in Las Vegas[citation needed].

Cornell recently starred in an original comedy show in Hollywood with Destiny and Stephanie Hodge titled "Pain is Inevitable, Sex Optional"[citation needed]. It is an ongoing comedy about marriage, sex, men, love, death and politics as told by three women.

Since 2007, Cornell has been the co-host on Basham Radio with Doug Basham.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Lydia Cornell Biography.
  2. ^ a b c Dick Kleiner, "Lydia Cornell In New Series", Waycross Journal-Herald (November 22, 1980):P-39.
  3. ^ a b c d e El Paso Actress' Success Not Too Close for Comfort, Daily Leader, (Frederick, OK: August 15, 1982):10.
  4. ^ Loretta Overton, "Kiwanis Club Urged to Back Symphony Artists of the Symphony; EP Couple Keeps in Tune; No One In Family Plays Second Fiddle", El Paso Herald-Record (April 22, 1965):17.
  5. ^ Colin Larkin, ed., The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Vol. 7, 3rd ed. (Macmillan, 1998).
  6. ^ "Where Are They Now? Two Nice Girls", AfterEllen, (August 22, 2007).
  7. ^ Bio.
  8. ^ "El Paso Areas Miss Cotton Is Happy Nine Year Old Girl", El Paso Herald Post(April 1, 1963):4.
  9. ^ El Paso Herald-Post (May 11, 1963).
  10. ^ Joan Crosby, "Tony Orlando Fan Requests Information About Singer", St. Joseph News-Press (July 11, 1981):11A.
  11. ^ Celebrity High - The Cast of "Too Close For Comfort", (September 4, 2011). Photographs of Lydia Korniloff from her school yearbook.
  12. ^ a b Stacy Jenel Smith, "Lydia Cornell: 'Too Close for Comfort' star is close to stardom", The Spokesman-Review (June 27, 1982):3.
  13. ^ a b c d Randy Waage, "If You Can Read This You are Too Close!", ca. 2005.
  14. ^ "Former EP man is dead", El Paso Herald-Post (June 3, 1977):8.
  15. ^ Kathryn (Kathy) Korniloff, Scarsdale Class of 1978.
  16. ^ Stacy Jenel Smith, "Lydia Cornell: 'Too Close for Comfort' star is close to stardom", The Spokesman-Review (June 27, 1982):4.
  17. ^ Lydia Cornell
  18. ^ Donna Wasiczko, "A Blonde, She Is; Dumb, She Is Not", Milwaukee Sentinel (April 4, 1985):1, Part 3.
  19. ^ Donald C. Willis, Horror and Science Fiction Films III (Scarecrow Press, 1984):29.
  20. ^ John Kenneth Muir, Horror Films of The 1980s (McFarland, 2007):148-149.
  21. ^ James J. Mulay, The Horror Film (CineBooks, 1989):24.
  22. ^ "Blood Tide Review". TV Guide. Retrieved 2013-12-21. 
  23. ^ Elana Levine, Wallowing in Sex: The New Sexual Culture of 1970s American Television (Duke University Press, 2006).
  24. ^ Marla Brooks, The American Family on Television: A Chronology of 121 Shows, 1948-2004 (McFarland & Co., 2005):132.
  25. ^ Robert T. Francoeur, Becoming a Sexual Person (Macmillan Publishing Company, 1982):474.
  26. ^ David Hofstede and Jack Condon, Charlie's Angels Casebook (Pomegranate Press, 2000).
  27. ^ Cornell Quantum Leap 20th Anniversary: The Leap Back 2009.
  28. ^ Joe F. Huth and Richie F. Levine, Knight Rider Legacy: The Unofficial Guide to the Knight Rider Universe (iUniverse, 2004):200.
  29. ^ David Hofstede, The Dukes of Hazzard: The Unofficial Companion (St. Martin's Press, 2005).
  30. ^ Jon Abbott, Stephen J. Cannell Television Productions: A History of All Series and Pilots (McFarland, 2009):153.
  31. ^ Jon Abbott, Stephen J. Cannell Television Productions: A History of All Series and Pilots (McFarland, 2009):212.
  32. ^ Vincent Terrace, Television Character and Story Facts: Over 110,000 Details from 1,008 Shows, 1945-1992 (McFarland & Co., 1993):193.
  33. ^ John Kenneth Muir, The Encyclopedia of Superheroes on Film and Television, 2nd ed. (McFarland & Co., 2008):155.
  34. ^ Norman Chance, Who Was Who on Tv, Vol. 3 (Xlibris Corporation, 2011):281.
  35. ^ "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". 2006-04-14. Archived from the original on 2006-04-14. Retrieved 2012-04-29. 
  36. ^ Brad Friedman. "Death Is Sexier Than Sex (to Ann Coulter)". The Brad Blog. Retrieved 2012-04-29. 

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