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July 1, 1924
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||October 3, 2003
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Stroke|
|Spouse(s)||Martin Newman (1951–2003; her death; 2 children)|
Florence Stanley (July 1, 1924 – October 3, 2003) was an American actress of stage, film, and television.
Early life and career
Florence Stanley was born as Florence Schwartz in Chicago, the daughter of Hanna (née Weil) and Jack Schwartz. She began a long career on stage, film and TV starting in the 1940s. Her earliest theatrical performances include The Importance of Being Earnest with the Touring Players, Bury The Dead at New York's Cherry Lane Theatre, and Machinal.
During the 1950s, Stanley appeared in numerous live TV shows, and gave an acclaimed performance as Clytemnestra in the New York Shakespeare Festival's 1964 production of Electra, opposite Lee Grant, who played the title role. Stanley began her long career on Broadway as Maureen Stapleton's understudy in a 1965 revival of The Glass Menagerie.
In 1966, she took over the role of Yente in Broadway's Fiddler On The Roof from Bea Arthur, leaving in 1971 (after more than 2,000 performances) to open in Neil Simon's The Prisoner of Second Avenue, directed by Mike Nichols. In 1972 she went on to tap dance in the Broadway production of The Secret Affairs Of Mildred Wild, and in 1981 went back to work for Neil Simon in the Broadway production of Fools.
Her film roles began in 1967 with Up the Down Staircase starring Sandy Dennis. In 1973, she was asked by director Mike Nichols to play a small role in his film The Day of the Dolphin starring George C. Scott. She recreated her role in the film version of Prisoner (1975), was again cast by Nichols for The Fortune (1975), starring Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson and Stockard Channing. She then went on to appear in the television series Joe and Sons for CBS in 1975; that same year Barney Miller producer Danny Arnold cast Stanley as Bernice Fish, the wife of Detective Fish (played by Abe Vigoda). After Barney Miller, Stanley recreated her role as Bernice Fish on the spinoff, Fish. She also appeared in the 1994 film Trapped in Paradise starring Nicolas Cage, Jon Lovitz and Dana Carvey. Stanley played Edna "Ma" Firpo in the movie.
She starred as Margaret Wilbur, a family court judge who assigned custody of a twelve-year-old girl to two former boyfriends of the girl's late mother on the TV series My Two Dads, and directed three episodes of the series. She made two guest appearances on the TV series Night Court: an uncredited one in the season 4 episode "Murder" in which she plays a woman who cheerfully confesses to her husband's murder but may be hiding something, and another, credited, role in the season 6 episode "The Game Show" where she played Judge Wilbur. She later played Dr. Amanda Riskin on Nurses, provided the voice for Grandma Ethyl Phillips on Dinosaurs and made guest appearances on such television series as Mad About You (which reunited her with her former My Two Dads co-star, Paul Reiser), Malcolm in the Middle, Mr. Belvedere and Cybill. Later film roles include Trouble Bound (1993), The Odd Couple II and Bulworth (both in 1998) and Down With Love (2003). Stanley also played Thelma Griffin on Family Guy, but was replaced by Phyllis Diller after her death.
On October 3, 2003, Stanley died of complications from a stroke at age 79. She was survived by her husband, Martin Newman, and their two children, as well as her two grandchildren. Her interment was at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery.
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