Lydia Cornell

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Lydia Cornell
LydiaCornell white 2007.JPG
BornLydia Korniloff
(1953-07-23) July 23, 1953 (age 65)
El Paso, Texas, U.S.
Alma materLos Angeles Conservatory of Music and Arts
University of Colorado Boulder
Years active1980–present
Known forToo Close for Comfort
Paul Hayeland
(m. 2002; div. 2010)

Lydia Cornell (born July 23, 1953)[1][2] is an American actress best known for her role as Sara Rush on the ABC situation comedy Too Close for Comfort.

Early life and family[edit]

Cornell was born Lydia Korniloff in El Paso, Texas on July 23, 1953.[3] She is the eldest daughter of concert violinist Irma Jean Stowe, the great granddaughter of Harriet Beecher Stowe,[4][5] and Gregory Jacob Korniloff,[6] a graduate of the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and Arts, who was later assistant concertmaster of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra.[7] Cornell is the elder sister of the late Paul Korniloff, a piano prodigy, and Kathryn Korniloff, co-founder of the band Two Nice Girls[8][9] and a sound designer and composer since 1995.[10]

While a nine-year-old fourth grade student at Mesita Elementary School, Cornell was chosen as El Paso's "Little Miss Cotton" in March 1963.[3][6][11]

In 1966, Cornell and her family moved to Scarsdale, New York. She attended both Scarsdale Junior High School[6][12] and Scarsdale High School, from which she graduated in 1971.[13]

After graduation, Cornell enrolled at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she studied business, drama, English, Russian, Spanish and Anthropology.[14][15] During the summer between her sophomore and junior year in college, she worked at the recording studio Caribou Ranch in Nederland, Colorado[citation needed]. There she met Billy Joel, Dennis Wilson, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, David Cassidy, and photographer Henry Diltz. As a Caribou Ranch photographer and "kitchen girl" she brought food to the cabins (Ooray, Running Bear, the Grizzle Bear Lodge) of such rock stars as The Beach Boys, America, Chicago and Billy Joel. The Ozark Mountain Daredevils gave her a credit on their album "Men From Home." Before graduation, Cornell was the road manager for musician Michael Murphy.[6] In May 1976 Cornell graduated from UC Boulder with a Bachelor of Science in Business, with majors in both advertising and English/drama.[6][14][15]

By the time of her father's death in May 1977, Cornell had joined the rest of the Korniloff family, who had been living in The Hague, the Netherlands since mid-1975.[5][16][17] Soon after, her mother and siblings moved back to El Paso, Texas. By 1978 Cornell had moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. While there she had a job for three months working at a recording studio and modeling for album covers,[15] before being employed by Jack Webb Productions as a secretary-production assistant.[18] Still known as Lydia Korniloff, Cornell also worked as an assistant to the producer on the television movie Little Mo, a biography of tennis star Maureen Connolly.[citation needed]

Acting career[edit]

Cornell's first screen appearance was as Lydia Korniloff in a walk-on as a girl in a car in the film Steel (1979), produced by and starring Lee Majors. Her first professional speaking part was in an episode of The Love Boat, for which she had two lines.[19] In the summer of 1980, Cornell spent nine weeks filming in the Greek Isles for her appearance in the mythological horror film Blood Tide,[15][20] which was not released until 1982.[21][22]

Cornell's first major role was as Sara Rush, "a ditzy, big-breasted blonde",[23] on Too Close for Comfort from 1980–86.[24] In 1982, at the height of the sitcom's popularity, Cornell was described by sexologist Robert T. Francoeur as providing a modern example of "classic female stereotypes in the mold of Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield".[25]

Cornell appeared on numerous television programs over the years, including The Love Boat, Charlie's Angels,[26] The Drew Carey Show, Quantum Leap (the pilot episode)[27] Full House, Knight Rider,[28] The Dukes of Hazzard,[29] The A-Team,[30] T. J. Hooker, Simon & Simon, Hunter,[31] Hardball,[32] Black Scorpion,[33] Hotel, Fantasy Island, Battle of the Network Stars, Super Password, and, most recently, Curb Your Enthusiasm.


  1. ^ El Paso County birth records citing Lydia Korniloff's birthdate as July 23; accessed January 21, 2016.
  2. ^ Today in History: Singer Amy Winehouse, 27, found dead (July 23, 2014). The Associated Press. The Gaston Gazette. Accessed January 16, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "El Paso Areas Miss Cotton Is Happy Nine Year Old Girl", El Paso Herald Post(April 1, 1963): 4.[dead link]
  4. ^ Lydia Cornell Biography.
  5. ^ a b Dick Kleiner, "Lydia Cornell in New Series", Waycross Journal-Herald (November 22, 1980): 39.
  6. ^ a b c d e "El Paso Actress's Success Not Too Close for Comfort", Daily Leader,(Frederick, OK: August 15, 1982): 10.
  7. ^ Loretta Overton, "Kiwanis Club Urged to Back Symphony Artists of the Symphony; EP Couple Keeps in Tune; No One in Family Plays Second Fiddle", El Paso Herald-Record (April 22, 1965): 17.
  8. ^ Colin Larkin, ed., The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Vol. 7, 3rd ed. (Macmillan, 1998).
  9. ^ "Where Are They Now? Two Nice Girls", AfterEllen, (August 22, 2007). Archived August 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Biodata,; accessed January 19, 2016. Archived July 15, 2012, at
  11. ^ El Paso Herald-Post (May 11, 1963).
  12. ^ Joan Crosby, "Tony Orlando Fan Requests Information About Singer", St. Joseph News-Press (July 11, 1981): 11A.
  13. ^ Celebrity High – The Cast of "Too Close For Comfort", (September 4, 2011). Photographs of Lydia Korniloff from her school yearbook.[dead link]
  14. ^ a b Stacy Jenel Smith, "Lydia Cornell: 'Too Close for Comfort' star is close to stardom", The Spokesman-Review (June 27, 1982):3.
  15. ^ a b c d Randy Waage, "If You Can Read This You are Too Close!", ca. 2005.
  16. ^ "Former EP man is dead", El Paso Herald-Post (June 3, 1977): 8.
  17. ^ Kathryn (Kathy) Korniloff, Scarsdale Class of 1978.
  18. ^ Stacy Jenel Smith, "Lydia Cornell: 'Too Close for Comfort' star is close to stardom", The Spokesman-Review (June 27, 1982): 4.
  19. ^ Donna Wasiczko, "A Blonde, She Is; Dumb, She Is Not", Milwaukee Sentinel (April 4, 1985): 1, Part 3.
  20. ^ Donald C. Willis, Horror and Science Fiction Films III (Scarecrow Press, 1984): 29.
  21. ^ James J. Mulay, The Horror Film, CineBooks, 1989): 24.
  22. ^ "Blood Tide Review". TV Guide. Retrieved 2013-12-21.
  23. ^ Elana Levine, Wallowing in Sex: The New Sexual Culture of 1970s American Television (Duke University Press, 2006).
  24. ^ Marla Brooks, The American Family on Television: A Chronology of 121 Shows, 1948–2004 (McFarland & Co., 2005): 132.
  25. ^ Robert T. Francoeur, Becoming a Sexual Person (Macmillan Publishing Company, 1982): 474.
  26. ^ David Hofstede and Jack Condon, Charlie's Angels Casebook (Pomegranate Press, 2000).
  27. ^ Cornell Quantum Leap 20th Anniversary: The Leap Back 2009.
  28. ^ Joe F. Huth and Richie F. Levine, Knight Rider Legacy: The Unofficial Guide to the Knight Rider Universe (iUniverse, 2004): 200.
  29. ^ David Hofstede, The Dukes of Hazzard: The Unofficial Companion (St. Martin's Press, 2005).
  30. ^ Jon Abbott, Stephen J. Cannell Television Productions: A History of All Series and Pilots (McFarland, 2009): 153.
  31. ^ Jon Abbott, Stephen J. Cannell Television Productions: A History of All Series and Pilots (McFarland, 2009): 212.
  32. ^ Vincent Terrace, Television Character and Story Facts: Over 110,000 Details from 1,008 Shows, 1945–1992 (McFarland & Co., 1993): 193.
  33. ^ John Kenneth Muir, The Encyclopedia of Superheroes on Film and Television, 2nd ed. (McFarland & Co., 2008): 155.

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