Carol Bruce

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Carol Bruce
Bruce in Keep 'Em Flying (1941)
Shirley Levy

(1919-11-15)November 15, 1919
DiedOctober 9, 2007(2007-10-09) (aged 87)
Occupation(s)Actress, singer
Years active1937–2000
Milton Nathanson
(m. 1945; div. 1963)

Carol Bruce (born Shirley Levy; November 15, 1919 – October 9, 2007) was an American band singer, Broadway star, and film and television actress. She had the recurring part of Mama Lillian Carlson on TV's WKRP in Cincinnati.

Early years[edit]

Bruce was born Shirley Levy in a Jewish family, in Manhattan, to Beatrice and Harry Levy. She had a sister, Marilyn.[1]

Because of her family's moving, she attended Jamaica High School, Girls' High School, and New Utrecht High School before graduating from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, New York. Although she studied violin for eight years, she never took singing lessons.[1]


Bruce began her career as a singer in the late 1930s with Larry Clinton and his band. She sang with Ben Bernie's orchestra in 1940–1941.[2]


Bruce made her Broadway debut in Louisiana Purchase, with songs by Irving Berlin, who discovered her at a nightclub in Newark, New Jersey. She was the first actress to play the role of Julie in a Broadway production of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's Show Boat since the 1932 Broadway revival. Bruce played the role onstage in 1946 and garnered favorable comparisons to Helen Morgan,[2] who had originated the role onstage in 1927 and repeated it in both the 1932 revival and the 1936 film.

Her other Broadway credits include New Priorities of 1943, Along Fifth Avenue (1949), Do I Hear a Waltz?, Henry, Sweet Henry, and A Family Affair.[3]


Bruce's radio debut came on The Horn and Hardart Children's Hour.[2] She sang on Carton of Pleasure and The Henny Youngman Show.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Bruce's only marriage to Milton Nathanson, which ended in divorce, produced a daughter, Julie, an actress, singer and playwright who married jazz guitarist Larry Coryell. Bruce's grandchildren, Murali and Julian Coryell, are both musicians.[5] Bruce was Jewish.[6]

Bruce was a Democrat who supported Adlai Stevenson's campaign in the 1952 presidential election.[7]


Bruce died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, aged 87. She was survived by her sister and two great-grandsons.[8] Upon her death, she was cremated and her ashes given to her cousin.[9]



Year Title Role Notes
1941 This Woman Is Mine Julie Morgan [10]
Keep 'Em Flying Linda Joyce [2]
1942 Behind the Eight Ball Joan Barry
1969 The Girl Who Returned A voice role
1980 American Gigolo Mrs. Solan
1987 Planes, Trains & Automobiles Joy
1996 The Land Before Time IV: Journey Through the Mists Old One (Voice)


Year Title Role Notes
1949 Jazz Concert Self Episode: #1.3
The Lamb's Gambol Episode: #1.5
The Fifty-Fourth Street Revue Episode: #1.1 & #1.2
Cavalcade of Stars Episode: Carol Bruce, Josh White, Alice Pearce
1949–1951 The Ed Sullivan Show Episode: Tony Martin, Carol Bruce, #4.5 & The Oscar Hammerstein Story featuring Lena Horne, Wally Cox, Mimi Benzell, Robert Merrill, Charles Winninger
1950 The Silver Theatre Episode: Happy Marriage
1950–1951 Showtime, U.S.A. Self Episode: #1.5 & #1.38
1951 Musical Comedy Time Maisie Doll Episode: Miss Liberty
Studio One Episode: The King in Yellow
The Sam Levenson Show Self Episode: Carol Bruce and daughter
This Is Show Business Episode: Binnie Barnes, Carol Bruce, Jackie Miles, Teddy Hale
Wonderful Town, U.S.A. Episode: Brooklyn
1952 The Milton Berle Show Episode: #4.35
The Eyes Have It Episode: Carol Bruce, Rudy Vallee
Curtain Call Episode: The Promise
1953 Chance of a Lifetime Self Episode: Carol Bruce
1954–1957 Armstrong Circle Theatre Hurricane Diane Episode: Hit a Blue Note, Lost $2 Billion: The Story of Hurricane Diane & Thief of Diamonds
1959 One Night Stand Self Episode: Lou Holtz
1960 Sounds of Home Vidalia TV Special
1961 The Witness Mildred Hall Episode: Dillinger
1963 General Hospital Jennifer Talbot TV series
Girl Talk Self Episode: Carol Bruce, Marilyn Cantor Baker, Helene Hanff
1965 The Merv Griffin Show Episode: Buddy Hackett, Carol Bruce, Jay Kennedy, Dr. Cleo Dawson
1970 Love of Life Amanda Randolph Episode: Episode dated 13 August 1970
1979–1982 WKRP in Cincinnati Lillian Carlson 10 episodes[11]
1980 Charlie's Angels Mrs. Pattison Episode: Three for the Money
1981 Knots Landing Annette Cunningham Episode: Squeezeplay, Moving In & The Surprise
1984 Diff'rent Strokes Miss Gilbert Episode: The Wedding
Too Close for Comfort Sally Ruth Episode: Home Is Where the Bart Is
1985 The Twilight Zone Mrs. Whitford Episode: Dead Woman's Shoes/Wong's Lost and Found Emporium
1986 Our House Mrs. Findley Episode: Home Again
1987 Rags to Riches Episode: Pilot
1987–1988 Perfect Strangers Mrs. 'Muffy' Endicott& Margaret Episode: Tux for Two & High Society
1988 Marblehead Manor Margaret Stonehill Episode: Pilot
1989 Hooperman Episode: In the Still of My Pants
1990 Doogie Howser, M.D. Mrs. Beatrice Portmeyer Episode: Academia Nuts
1991 The Golden Girls Lucille Episode: Older and Wiser
Jake and the Fatman Mrs. Clark Episode: It Never Entered My Mind
Equal Justice Mrs. Thomason Episode: What Color Are My Eyes?
1991–1992 The New WKRP in Cincinnati Lillian 'Mama' Carlson 5 episodes
1992 Archive footage, episode: Donovan, Don't Leave Us
1995 Live Shot Shirley Episode: What Price Episode?
Party of Five Sarah's Grandmother Episode: Grand Delusions
1997 Diagnosis Murder Constance Lockwood Episode: The Murder of Mark Sloan
Pacific Palisades Mrs. Fitzpatrick Episode: Desperate Measure
Profiler Petra Strauss Episode: Three Carat Crisis

Short film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1937 Koo Koo Korrespondance Skool Singer
1938 Larry Clinton and His Orchestra Self
1942 Swing's the Thing
1946 Headline Bands Archive footage


  1. ^ a b "Carol Bruce a Tasty Dish Never Studied Singing". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. January 27, 1946. p. 23. Retrieved February 23, 2016 – via Open access icon
  2. ^ a b c d DeLong, Thomas A. (1996). Radio Stars: An Illustrated Biographical Dictionary of 953 Performers, 1920 through 1960. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-7864-2834-2.
  3. ^ "Carol Bruce". Playbill. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  4. ^ Sies, Luther F. (2014). Encyclopedia of American Radio, 1920-1960. Vol. 1 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-7864-5149-4.
  5. ^ Sisario, Ben (May 28, 2009). "Julie Coryell, Jazz-Rock Historian, Dies at 61". The New York Times. p. A23.
  6. ^ King, Alan (November 1, 2001). Matzo Balls for Breakfast and Other Memories of Growing Up Jewish. Simon and Schuster. pp. 29–30. ISBN 978-1416585466.
  7. ^ Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
  8. ^ Peterson, Alison J. (October 16, 2007). "Carol Bruce, Actress on Film, Stage and TV, Dies at 87". The New York Times. p. C13.
  9. ^ Wilson, Scott (September 16, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons (3rd ed.). McFarland. p. 96. ISBN 978-1476625997.
  10. ^ "Carol Bruce Signed for First Serious Role in New Film". The Salt Lake Tribune. July 10, 1941. p. 9. Retrieved February 23, 2016 – via Open access icon
  11. ^ "Carol Bruce, 87; singer, actress had role in 'WKRP in Cincinnati'". Los Angeles Times. October 14, 2007.

External links[edit]