(JTA) — Stage, film and television actress Connie Sawyer, nicknamed “The Clown Princess of Comedy,” has died at 105.
Sawyer, who changed her name from Rosie Cohen, was considered the oldest working actress in Hollywood and oldest member of the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the time of her death. She had over 140 acting credits, mostly for small roles.
Sawyer died on Monday at her home at the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s retirement community in Woodland Hills, California.
Her credits include: “The Way West,” “Ada,” “The Man in the Glass Booth,””The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Dynasty”, “Murder, She Wrote,” “Archie Bunker’s Place,” “Home Improvement,” “Seinfeld,” “Will & Grace,” “ER,” “The Office,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “Ray Donovan.”
She more recently played James Franco’s grandmother in “Pineapple Express” (2008) and the Oldest Woman in the World on “New Girl.”
She played the wife of one of the couples interviewed documentary-style in Rob Reiner’s “When Harry Met Sally” (1989), but told an interviewer she wanted the role of the woman in the delicatessen who says, “I’ll have what she’s having” after Meg Ryan’s fake orgasm, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The role went to Reiner’s mother.
She earned her first movie role at the age of 50 appearing opposite Frank Sinatra and Edward G. Robinson. Sinatra had insisted she get the part after appearing with her in a Broadway play.
She was born in 1912 in Colorado to Orthodox Jewish parents. Her father Samuel and her mother Dora were immigrants from Romania. The family moved to Oakland, California when she was 7. At the age of 19 she moved to New York, performing in nightclubs and vaudeville, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
She wrote the book, “I Never Wanted to Be a Star — and I Wasn’t,” about her experiences in Hollywood.