Lydia Cornell

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Lydia Cornell
LydiaCornell white 2007.JPG
Lydia Korniloff

(1953-07-23) July 23, 1953 (age 68)
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 Lydia Korniloff, 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.[15] 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. 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, before being employed by Jack Webb Productions as a secretary-production assistant.[15][14] 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.[18] 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][19] which was not released until 1982.[20][21]

Cornell's first major role was as Sara Rush, "a ditzy, big-breasted blonde",[22] on Too Close for Comfort from 1980–86.[23] 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".[24]

Cornell appeared in single episode roles on numerous television series over the years, including The Love Boat, Charlie's Angels,[25] The Drew Carey Show, Quantum Leap (the pilot episode)[26] Full House, Knight Rider,[27] The Dukes of Hazzard,[28] The A-Team,[29] T. J. Hooker, Simon & Simon, Hunter,[30] Hardball,[31] Black Scorpion,[32] Hotel, Fantasy Island and Curb Your Enthusiasm. She also appeared as a guest on episodes of television game shows, such as Battle of the Network Stars, Super Password and Match Game Hollywood Squares Hour.


  1. ^ El Paso County birth records citing Lydia Korniloff's birthdate as July 23; accessed January 21, 2016.
  2. ^ "Today in History". The Boston Globe. Associated Press. July 23, 2014. p. G35. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "El Paso Areas Miss Cotton Is Happy Nine Year Old Girl". El Paso Herald-Post. April 1, 1963. p. A4. Retrieved March 4, 2022.
  4. ^ "Biography". Lydia Cornell Official Website. Retrieved March 4, 2022.
  5. ^ a b Kleiner, Dick (November 22, 1980). "'Bosom Buddies' may have 'beauty of the year'". St. Joseph News-Press Spotlight. p. 22. Retrieved March 4, 2022.
  6. ^ a b c d "El Paso Actress's Success Not Too Close for Comfort". Daily Leader. Frederick, Okla. United Press International. August 15, 1982. p. 10.
  7. ^ Overton, Loretta (April 22, 1965). "EP Couple Keeps in Tune; No One in Family Plays Second Fiddle". El Paso Herald-Record. p. B1.
  8. ^ Larkin, Colin, ed. (1998). Two Nice Girls. The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Vol. 7 (3rd ed.). London: Muze. ISBN 978-0-3337-4134-4. Retrieved March 4, 2022.
  9. ^ "Where Are They Now? Two Nice Girls". AfterEllen. August 22, 2007. Archived from the original on August 13, 2011.
  10. ^ "Bio". Archived from the original on July 15, 2012. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  11. ^ "Great-Grandmother of Eight Feted as 'Mother of the Year'". El Paso Herald-Post. May 11, 1963. p. A8.
  12. ^ Crosby, Joan (July 11, 1981). "Tony Orlando Fan Requests Information About Singer". St. Joseph News-Press. p. Spotlight 3. Retrieved March 4, 2022.
  13. ^ "Celebrity High — The Cast of "Too Close For Comfort". Miss Vintage Pop Culture. September 4, 2011. Archived from the original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2022.
  14. ^ a b c Smith, Stacy Jenel (June 27, 1982). "Lydia Cornell: 'Too Close for Comfort' star is close to stardom". The Spokesman-Review TV Preview. Spokane, Wash. pp. 3–4. Retrieved March 4, 2022.
  15. ^ a b c d e Waage, Randy (2005). "If You Can Read This You are Too Close!". Archived from the original on August 27, 2018.
  16. ^ "Former EP man is dead". El Paso Herald-Post. June 3, 1977. p. A8. Retrieved March 4, 2022.
  17. ^ "Kathryn (Kathy) Korniloff". Scarsdale Class of 1978.
  18. ^ Donna Wasiczko, "A Blonde, She Is; Dumb, She Is Not", Milwaukee Sentinel (April 4, 1985): 1, Part 3.
  19. ^ Willis, Donald C. (1984). Horror and Science Fiction Films III. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-8108-1723-4.
  20. ^ Mulay, James J., ed. (1989). The Horror Film: A Guide to More Than 700 Films on Videocassette. Evanston, Ill: CineBooks. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-9339-9723-3.
  21. ^ "Blood Tide Review". TV Guide. Retrieved December 21, 2013.
  22. ^ Levine, Elana (January 9, 2007). Wallowing in Sex: The New Sexual Culture of 1970s American Television. Duke University Press. p. 162. ISBN 978-0-8223-3919-9.
  23. ^ Brooks, Marla (March 12, 2015). The American Family on Television: A Chronology of 121 Shows, 1948–2004. McFarland. p. 132. ISBN 978-1-4766-0690-3.
  24. ^ Francoeur, Robert T. (1982). Becoming a Sexual Person. Macmillan. p. 474. ISBN 978-0-0233-9220-7.
  25. ^ Hofstede, David; Condon, Jack (2000). Charlie's Angels Casebook. Pomegranate Press. ISBN 978-0-9388-1720-8.
  26. ^ "Quantum Leap 20th Anniversary Convention". The Leap Back 2009. December 31, 2009. Retrieved March 4, 2022.
  27. ^ Huth, Joe F. and Richie F. Levine. "Knight Rider Legacy: The Unofficial Guide to the Knight Rider Universe" iUniverse (January 1, 2004) p. 200. ISBN 978-0-5952-9848-8
  28. ^ Hofstede, David (2005). The Dukes of Hazzard: The Unofficial Companion. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 978-0-3123-5374-2.
  29. ^ Abbott, Jon (September 12, 2009). Stephen J. Cannell Television Productions: A History of All Series and Pilots. McFarland. p. 153. ISBN 978-0-7864-5401-3.
  30. ^ Abbott 2009, p. 212.
  31. ^ Terrace, Vincent (1993). Television Character and Story Facts: Over 110,000 Details from 1,008 Shows, 1945–1992. McFarland. p. 193. ISBN 978-0-8995-0891-7.
  32. ^ Muir, John Kenneth (August 21, 2008). The Encyclopedia of Superheroes on Film and Television (2nd ed.). McFarland. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-7864-3755-9.

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