Remembering the Great Jane Connell
It was one of the greatest privileges of my life to work with Jane Connell and call her my friend. Jane and I did four plays together, all of them world premieres for me, three of them on Broadway. She was an unsurpassed comedienne whose professionalism and sheer comic timing were miraculous to behold. She never ever missed a laugh that she set out to conquer, but always did it with absolute honesty and truth to character.
She was a born actress who could have simply called on her talents and left it at that. But that was not Jane. In fact, she never stopped working on a part right to the end of the run. She somehow found new things to play, day after day, in every character she took on. And she somehow found even greater, richer laughs within the character.
On a personal level, I have never known anyone kinder or more fun to be with.
In our last show together, Leading Ladies, she turned to me one day about halfway through the rehearsal period (I was directing). She was having trouble memorizing her lines and felt badly about it. She said "Ken, this will be the last play I'll ever do. But we've had a good run together haven't we?"
It was her last play. And we will all miss her deeply.
Jane Connell's obituary in the New York Times.
Dennis Ryan, Carol Burnett, Randy Graff, Jane Connell and James Valentine in the Broadway world premiere of Moon Over Buffalo. Photo by Joan Marcus
Jane Connell as Florence - Mark Jacoby as Duncan in the world premiere of Leading Ladies at the Alley Theatre. Photo by T. Charles Erickson