Actress. A versatile talent of both comedic and vocal skills, she will be perhaps best remembered for her roles in the Mel Brooks pictures "Blazing Saddles" (1974) and "Young Frankenstein" (1974). Born Madeline Wolfson, her parents separated while she was young and in order to support her family Madeline's mother worked as a model, nightclub singer and secretary. Following her mother's remarrying, Madeline took her stepfather's last name Kahn and began studying the piano, as well as taking dance and voice lessons. She performed in high school plays and while attending Hofstra University, she majored in Drama and later studied Music and Speech, with the goal of becoming a speech therapist. Following her graduation (in which she received a BA), she taught at a public school on Long Island, but would be drawn back to performing, as she appeared in a stage production of "Kiss Me, Kate" and later was a member of an upstate New York repertory company, with whom she sang opera. She marked her Broadway debut in "Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1968" (1968) and followed this with her performance in the musical "Two By Two" (1970 to 1971). She made her film initiation playing Ryan O'Neal's fiancee Eunice Burns in the Peter Bogdanovich zany comedy "What's Up Doc?", and played the part of Trixie Delight brilliantly, as she teamed up again with O'Neal in Bogdanovich's "Paper Moon" (1973, which earned her an Academy Award nomination). In 1974, she received a Tony Award nomination with "Boom Boom Room" and earned a second nomination for "On the Twentieth Century" (1978). Kahn's association with Mel Brooks yielded her memorable performances as Lili von Shtupp in "Blazing Saddles" (1974, receiving a second Oscar nomination), as Elizabeth in "Young Frankenstein" (1974) and as Victoria Brisbane in "High Anxiety" (1977). Among her other films include "The Cheap Detective" (1978), "The Muppet Movie" (1979), "History of the World, Part I" (1981), "Yellowbeard" (1983) and "City Heat" (1984). During the 1980s, she starred in her own series "Oh, Madeline" (1983), received an Emmy Award for a 1987 episode of the "ABC After School Special" titled "Wanted: The Perfect Guy" and earned a third Tony Award nomination with "Born Yesterday" (1989). Kahn would finally win a Tony Award for her performance in "The Sisters Rosensweig" (1993). Her final role was as Pauline Fox in the TV series "Cosby" (1996 to 1999). She died from ovarian cancer at the age of 57.
Bio by: C.S.