LAINIE KAZAN Biography
Lainie Kazan is the embodiment of the word entertainer -- an artist who has reached the pinnacle in virtually every area of performance.
Ms. Kazan began her career in the Broadway musical “Funny Girl,” where she played a Ziegfeld showgirl and understudied the leading lady, Barbra Streisand. She finally got her chance to go on in the title role a year and a half after its Broadway opening. Lainie performed the lead role twice in one day, and received accolades that would start what would be an extraordinary career.
Lainie has also appeared on Broadway stage in “The Government Inspector” with Tony Randall, “My Favorite Year” with Tim Curry (Tony Award nomination), and produced and starred in the Ethel Merman tribute, “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly”. Regional credits include: “A Little Night Music,” “The Rink,” “Man of La Mancha,” “The Rose Tattoo,” “Gypsy,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” “Hello Dolly,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Orpheus Descending,” “Plaza Suite” and “Bermuda Avenue Triangle” with Joseph Bologna and Renee Taylor. She has also performed in “The Vagina Monologues” and “The Exonerated.”
Her film credits include: “My Favorite Year” (Golden Globe Nomination), Coppola’s “One From The Heart,” Spielberg’s “Harry and the Hendersons,” Paul Bartel’s “Lust in the Dust,” “Delta Force,” “Beaches,” “The Cemetery Club,” “The Big Hit,” “The Associate,” “The Crew,” “What’s Cooking?,” “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “Bratz,” Adam Sandler’s “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” and “Pixels,” and most recently “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” which opens in March 2016. She has also starred in several movies for television.
Lainie’s television credits include: “St. Elsewhere” (Emmy Nomination), “The Paper Chase” (CableACE Award Nomination), “The Nanny,” “Strong Medicine,” “Veronica’s Closet,” “Touched by an Angel,” “Will & Grace,” “My Big Fat Greek Life,” “Boston Legal,” multiple episodes of “‘Til Death” as Joely Fisher’s mother and “Ugly Betty,” a guest starring, multi-episodic arc on “Desperate Housewives,” and most recently “Modern Family” and “Grey’s Anatomy”.
Lainie has performed in Nightclubs, Grand Hotels, and Concert Halls around the world. She partnered with Hugh Hefner and opened “Lainie’s Room” and “Lainie’s Room East” at the Los Angeles and New York Playboy Clubs. Lainie recorded five albums for MGM and she produced her most recent CD’s with David Benoit for Music Masters label “In The Groove” and “Body and Soul”.
Lainie serves on the board for the Young Musicians Foundation, AIDS Project LA, and B’nai B’rith. In June 2008, Lainie had the honor of being a Grand Marshall for the Salute to Israel Parade in New York, with guests such as Senator’s Clinton and Obama.
Lainie is a graduate of Hofstra University with a B.A. in Speech and Drama, with a minor in Education. She is an adjunct professor at Hofstra University teaching at the School of Communications, where she is on the advisory board. She is also on the board of the Screen Actors Guild and The Young Musician’s Society.
Lainie studied with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse and studied voice with Joseph Scott for 20 years. She also studied with Lee Strasberg for 5 years and is a lifetime member of The Actor’s Studio.
Lainie currently is an Adjunct Professor at the School of Theater, Film, and Television at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is currently in her fourth year of teaching. Her course at UCLA is titled “Acting for the Singer” and culminates with a Cabaret show at the end of the quarter. She has completed filming on “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” which will open in the spring of 2016.
Lainie is the mother of Jennifer Bena and grandmother to Isabella Blue and Grayson Lawrence.