Imogene Coca biography

Imogene Coca (November 18, 1908 – June 2, 2001) was an American comic actress.

Imogene Coca

Imogene Coca was born Imogene Fernandez de Coca in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of José Fernandez de Coca, a conductor, and his wife Sadie Brady, a dancer and magician’s assistant. She had Spanish and Irish ancestry.

In her youth, she received piano, dance, and voice lessons. She moved from Philadelphia to seek a living as a dancer, while still a teenager, starting in the chorus of the Broadway musical When You Smile. She came to be featured as a headliner, appearing in Manhattan nightclubs, with music arranged by her first husband, Robert Burton. She came to prominence when she began to combine music with comedy: her first big critical success was in New Faces of 1934.

In the early days of live television, she played opposite Sid Caesar in a sketch comedy program, Your Show of Shows, which was immensely popular from 1950 to 1954. She also had, briefly, her own series, The Imogene Coca Show. Her first husband, Robert Burton, died in 1955.

In 1960, she married her second husband, actor King Donovan.

Imogene Coca with her second husband, King Donovan, in 1968
Imogene Coca with her second husband, King Donovan, in 1968
Imogene Coca and Joe_E. Ross in It's About Time, 1966
Imogene Coca and Joe_E. Ross in
It’s About Time, 1966

She starred as a cave woman alongside Joe E. Ross in the 1966-67 TV sitcom It’s About Time and made memorable guest appearances on the sitcoms Bewitched (as “Mary the Tooth Fairy”), and The Brady Bunch (as “Aunt Jenny”).

She made one final performance on the Broadway stage as religious zealot Letitia Primrose in On the Twentieth Century, and was nominated for a Tony Award.

Her later years were spent in relative solitude with only occasional appearances guest-starring on television (Moonlighting) and in small movie roles, including her memorable role as “Aunt Edna” in National Lampoon’s Vacation.

She died in Westport, Connecticut of Alzheimer’s disease and natural causes at the age of 92.

(Courtesy of Wikipedia)

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