Frances Bay in 1999
|Born||Frances Evelyn Goffman
January 23, 1919
Mannville, Alberta, Canada
|Died||September 15, 2011
Tarzana, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Pneumonia|
|Resting place||Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Residence||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Employer||Canadian Broadcasting Corporation|
|Home town||Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada|
|Spouse(s)||Charles Bay (m. 1946; his death 2002)|
|Children||Josh Bay (deceased)|
Frances Evelyn Goffman was born January 23, 1919 in Mannville, Alberta, to Ukrainian Jewish immigrant parents, Ann (née Averbach) and Max Goffman, and was raised in Dauphin, Manitoba. Her younger brother was the noted sociologist Erving Goffman. Before World War II she acted professionally in Winnipeg and spent the war hosting the Canadian Broadcasting Company's radio show, Everybody's Program, aimed at service members overseas.
She married Charles Irwin Bay (born December 15, 1918 – died June 18, 2002) in 1946, and moved to Cape Town, South Africa, living in the Constantia and Camps Bay areas. She studied with Uta Hagen at this time. Charles and Frances Bay had one son, Josh (Eli Joshua; March 14, 1947 – June 6, 1970), who died at the age of 23.
Bay started her career in the 1930s as a radio actress.
Bay returned to acting in the 1970s, appearing in television and film roles until 1976 while in her mid-50s, beginning with a small part in Foul Play, a 1978 comedy starring Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. A year earlier, she appeared as Mrs. Hamilton in the Christmas television special Christmastime with Mister Rogers.
Bay's first major television appearance occurred playing the grandmother to the character of Fonzie on Happy Days. She described Henry Winkler, who played Fonzie, as "just a sweet guy. He lost his own grandmother in the Holocaust, and he wrote me a letter saying I was his virtual grandmother". In 1983, she played the grandmother in Little Red Riding Hood in Faerie Tale Theatre for Showtime. She appeared in the final episodes of three long-running sitcom series: Happy Days, Who's the Boss? and Seinfeld. Bay played Cousin Winifred in the fourth to last episode of Road to Avonlea, a role for which she won a Gemini Award.
In 1986, Bay appeared as the doddery aunt of Kyle MacLachlan's character in David Lynch's Blue Velvet. Lynch, recast her in several subsequent works, including as a foul-mouthed madam in Wild at Heart, and as Mrs. Tremond on Twin Peaks and its feature film spin-off, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.
In 1994, she played Mrs. Pickman in John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness. 1996 she played Adam Sandler's grandmother in the feature film Happy Gilmore. In 1999 Bay played Thelma, the head security guard at the Bradford robotics laboratory in the film Inspector Gadget.
Bay was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame on September 6, 2008, in large part thanks to a petition with 10,000 names which was submitted on her behalf. The selection committee also received personal letters from Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, David Lynch, Henry Winkler, Monty Hall and other celebrities.
Personal life and death
- Cavan, Sherri (July 2011). "When Erving Goffman was a Boy". University of Nevada, Las Vegas. p. 4.
- Noland, Claire (September 16, 2011). "Character actress Frances Bay dies at 92". Los Angeles Times.
- Michael Posner, "Seinfeld's marble rye lady honoured", Toronto Globe and Mail, September 6, 2008, pg. R4
- Zakarin, Jordan (September 18, 2011). "Frances Bay Dead: 'Happy Gilmore', 'Seinfeld' Actress Passes Away At 92". Huffington Post. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
- Oliver, Myrna (September 17, 2011). "Frances Bay dies at 92; veteran character actress". Los Angeles Times.
- Maslin Nir, Sarah (September 18, 2011). "Frances Bay, Actress Known for ‘Old Lady’ Roles, Dies at 92". The New York Times.
- "Canada's Walk of Fame Inducts Frances Bay". Canada's Walk of Fame. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
- "Steve Nash, kd lang among new Walk of Fame inductees". CTV News. June 3, 2008. Archived from the original on June 4, 2008. Retrieved April 5, 2016.