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Melanie Chartoff in 1980
December 15, 1950 |
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
|Alma mater||Adelphi University|
Melanie Chartoff (born December 15, 1950) is an American actress and voice-over artist. She first became famous for her comedy work on the ABC series Fridays from 1980 to 1982, and on the early 1990s Fox sitcom Parker Lewis Can't Lose. She is also best known for her voice role as Didi Pickles and her mother Minka on the animated series Rugrats.
Chartoff first became a nationally known figure on ABC's Fridays; that network's attempt to create its own version of Saturday Night Live. She immediately stood out on the series, partly thanks to her regular role as the anchor on the show's fake newscasts, but also due to her comedic skills (particularly a devastatingly sharp impression of Nancy Reagan) and her remarkably good looks. On one sketch, she was cold-cocked on live TV when guest host Mac Davis failed to pull his punch during a skit and chipped a tooth.
Between the demise of Fridays in 1982 and her return to a regular series in 1990 with Parker Lewis Can't Lose (in which she co-starred for three seasons as the high-strung Principal Grace Musso), Chartoff continued to work steadily on television throughout the 1980s, including appearances on Mr. Belvedere, Wiseguy, and St. Elsewhere, as well as a recurring role on Newhart as Dr. Mary Kaiser.
She also appeared on stage in the La Jolla Playhouse production of Big River. In addition, she made two appearances on Seinfeld, including one in the 1998 series finale in which four of her former Fridays co-stars were also involved, making it the closest thing to a Fridays cast reunion to date.
She appeared in the October 1981 issue of Playboy magazine as the "Breast of The Month."
In 1991, Melanie Chartoff and fellow voice actor Michael Bell conceived the Grayway Rotating Drain, a graywater recycling device for domestic reuse of shower and sink water. Inventor Ronald K. Ford was hired to complete the final product. She was recognized as one of the 50 most beautiful female inventors of all time by Inventors Weekly magazine.
From 1991 to 2008, Chartoff's Rugrats characters include Didi Pickles, the mother of Tommy Pickles and his younger brother Dil and Didi's mother, Minka. She continued to voice Didi on Rugrats' spin-off series, All Grown Up!.
Voice acting and current projects
Her first voice over work was a guest role on Challenge of the Super Friends.
Chartoff has continued her work as an in-demand voice actress, and also takes occasional TV and stage roles. In addition, she works as an acting coach. In 2005 she interviewed Laraine Newman (who has joked that the two of them frequently compete for the same roles) for Autograph Collector magazine. Melanie Chartoff has also appeared in the 2006 season finale of Desperate Housewives.
Currently, she is appearing in what has been dubbed a "a musical memoir" Taught 2 Dance a work-in-progress which concerns her life as a performer "growing up to become a real person."
Films and television
- Search for Tomorrow TV (1976)
- Challenge of the Super Friends TV (1978)
- Fridays (1980–82) TV (Various characters)
- Super Friends TV (1980–1982)
- Doin' Time (1985)
- Mr. Belvedere (1985)
- Stoogemania (1986)
- Newhart TV (1987–1990)
- Take Five TV (1987)
- Wiseguy (1988)
- Parker Lewis Can't Lose (1990–93) TV "Grace Musso"
- Rugrats (1991–2004) TV "Didi Pickles" (voice)
- Seinfeld (1994) TV "Robin" (2 episodes)
- Weird Science TV (1996–1998)
- Jumanji (1996) TV "Aunt Nora Shepherd"
- The Rugrats Movie (1998) film "Didi Pickles" (voice)
- Madeline: Lost in Paris (1999) film "Madeline's Mother" (voice uncredited)
- Rugrats in Paris: The Movie (2000) film "Didi Pickles" (voice)
- All Grown Up (2003–08) TV "Didi Pickles" (voice)
- No Ordinary Family (2010) TV "Iris Mitchell"
- Asleep at the Wheel (2012) (voice) pre-production
- TheaterMania page with summary of Taught 2 Dance
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