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Actress Carole Shelley (1939-2018)


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The British-born actress Carole Shelley, who played one of the Pigeon Sisters in stage, screen and television versions of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple," died Friday. The Tony Award winner succumbed to cancer at her Manhattan home two weeks after her 79th birthday. She was a naturalized citizen of the United States and had lived in the country for almost 50 years. 

Born in London on August 16, 1939, Shelley made her Broadway debut in the original 1965 production of Simon's comedy as Gwendolyn Pigeon, who -- along with sister Cecily (Monica Evans) -- befriended their mismatched New York apartment neighbors Oscar Madison (Walter Matthau) and Felix Ungar (Art Carney).

Image result for carole shelley tony win  images

Shelley and Evans reprised their giggling characters in the 1968 film version of "The Odd Couple," which starred Matthau and Jack Lemmon.

The actresses also appeared as the Pigeons during the first season of the 1970s ABC sitcom based on "The Odd Couple." Tony Randall starred as Felix, while Jack Klugman played Oscar.

Both actresses provided voices for two Disney animated films. In "The Aristocats" (1970), Shelley voiced the goose Amelia Gabble; Evans was twin sister Abigail Gabble. In "Robin Hood" (1973), Shelley voiced Lady Kluck, the lady-in-waiting to Maid Marian (Evans). 

In April, Shelley and Evans (pictured below)-- who hadn't seen each other for years -- were reunited during the ninth annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. They were present for a screening of "The Odd Couple" film to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its release in theaters. Evans turned 78 in June.

Image result for carole shelley monica evans tcm festival

During her stage career, Shelley was nominated for Tonys four times (award win is in bold):

1975 -- Best Featured Actress in a Play -- As Jane in "Absurd Person Singular"

1979 -- Best Actress in a Play -- As Mrs. Kendal in "The Elephant Man"

1987 -- Best Featured Actress in a Play -- As Maxine in "Stepping Out"

2009 -- Best Featured Actress in a Musical -- As Grandma in "Billy Elliot: The Musical"

Among her other Broadway productions were "Noises Off," "Wicked" (she created the role of Madame Morrible) and "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder." 

Shelley's film credits also included "Give Us This Day" (1949), "Carry On Regardless" (1961), "No, My Darling Daughter" (1961), "Carry On Cabby" (1963), "The Boston Strangler" (1968), "Quiz Show" (1994), "The Road to Wellville" (1994), "Jungle 2 Jungle" (1997), Disney's "Hercules" (1997, as Lachesis, one of The Fates) and "Bewitched" (2005, as Aunt Clara).

I miss your tea and crumpets every day at 1:50 before matinee. Thank you for showing us what a true British lady was like. Rest In Peace, Carole. ?

Jeff Greenberg Retweeted BroadwayWorld

Hired the enormously gifted Carole Shelley for a hilarious guest role on Frasier, playing Amy Brenneman’s pushy mother. She was a major component in that episode winning the Emmy for best writing that season. RIP to a great actress and a great lady.

so sad finding out that we've lost the legend, Carole Shelley. What a wonderful, elegant lady. She would call me over to talk before every performance I had with her in Billy Elliot, calling me Miss Holly Polly. Your spirit and talent will be missed! Rest in peace Carole❤

Perhaps you saw Carole Shelley in Wicked...I shared the Broadway stage w/her in Cabaret..every night she sang 2me..”What would you do?”???RIP ?

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