Worked With:

Nia Vardalos

Adam Sandler

Ellen Pompeo

Ed O'Neill

Debby Ryan

Jamie-Lynn Sigler

Josh Cooke

Teri Hatcher

Joely Fisher

Saul Rubinek

Eric Mabius

Lainie Kazan Biography

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Birth Name: Lainie Kazan
Born: 05/15/1940
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA

In 1980, Kazan began focusing on acting work. College classmate Francis Ford Coppola cast her in his unsuccessful "One from the Heart" (1982), but she had better luck as a classic Jewish mother in "My Favorite Year" (1982), a role she would dynamically reprise a decade later in the Lincoln Center stage musical version. A spirited camp, Kazan had little success with two tries at TV sitcom ("Tough Cookies" 1986, starring Robbie Benson; "Karen's Song" 1987, as Patty Duke's pal) but has done rather well as supportive chum and boisterous earth mother types in films ranging from the misfire Western spoof "Lust in the Dust" (1984) to the female bonding drama "Beaches" (1988), the Chuck Norris actioner "Delta Force" (1987) and the family comedies "Harry and the Hendersons" (1987) and "29th Street" (1991).

Kazan's career continued in that vein throughout the '90s with a succession of B-level movies and the occasional standout role, but in 2002 she appeared in the film that would likely define her late-life acting career, playing Nia Vardalos' food-pushing, marriage-minded, oh-so-traditional Greek mother Maria Portokalos in the unexpected smash hit comedy "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," a role that made the most of her comedic gifts playing pushy, domineering matriarchs who are nonetheless lovable and often wise. Kazan would reprise the role for the brief, troubled CBS sit-com spin-off "My Big Fat Greek Life" (2003) and appeared briefly as Ben Affleck's (you guessed it) mother in "Gigli" (2003).