Fran Brill

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Fran Brill
Born Frances Joan Brill
(1946-09-30) September 30, 1946 (age 70)
Chester, Pennsylvania, United States
Occupation Actress, puppeteer
Years active 1969–2014
Spouse(s) Clint Ramsden (m. 1979; div. 1983)
Francis Robert Kelly (m. 1988)

Frances Joan "Fran" Brill (born September 30, 1946) is a retired American actress and puppeteer, best known for her roles on Sesame Street as well as playing Sally Hayes in the Hal Ashby film Being There (1979) and Lily Marvin in the Frank Oz film What About Bob? (1991).

Life and career[edit]

Brill was born in Chester, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Linette and Joseph M. Brill. Her father was a physician.[1] She is a graduate of Boston University College of Fine Arts.

She began her career in theater, making her Broadway debut in the 1969 play Red, White and Maddox. Her other theatrical roles include leads at the Roundabout Theatre, Manhattan Theater Club, Playwrights Horizons and many regional theaters including the Long Wharf, Yale Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, the Mark Taper Forum and the Actors Theatre of Louisville. She has been nominated twice for a Drama Desk Award, for What Every Woman Knows (1976) and for Knuckle (1981), respectively.

From 1974-1975, Brill played Fran Bachman on NBC's daytime drama How to Survive a Marriage. Her character struggled with sudden widowhood, and Brill received over a thousand condolence letters. Brill was also featured in episodes of The Guiding Light, All My Children, The Edge of Night, Hyde in Hollywood, Lip Service and Kate and Allie. She has also guest-starred on nighttime dramas such as Third Watch, Against the Law, Law & Order, and Law & Order: SVU.

On Sesame Street, for which she has won an Emmy Award, she has created and puppeteered the Muppets called Zoe, Little Bird, Betty Lou, and Prairie Dawn, among others. Playing Zoe, Brill appeared on the TV-series The West Wing as well as many home videos including Zoe's Dance Moves. With the Muppets she also did Saturday Night Live, The Muppet Show, The Jim Henson Hour, Dog City, and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.

She has also been seen and heard in hundreds of commercials and has appeared in such films as Being There, What About Bob?, Midnight Run, and City Hall.


On October 2, 2014, Brill announced that she was retiring from puppeteering on Sesame Street. In 2016, Stephanie D'Abruzzo and Jennifer Barnhart replaced Fran as the performers of Prairie Dawn and Zoe.[2]

Personal life[edit]

On July 14, 1979, Brill married Clint Ramsden; they divorced in 1983. She is currently married to writer Francis Robert Kelly since June 17, 1988.[1]


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Performer of Janice
1975 – 1976
Succeeded by
Eren Ozker
Preceded by
Prairie Dawn
1971 – 2015
Succeeded by
Stephanie D'Abruzzo
Preceded by
1993 – 2015
Succeeded by
Jennifer Barnhart
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