Today is the 98th birthday of one and only Brett Somers. Actress, personality, style icon. You should be more like her. Pour yourself a highball, put on your largest pair of glasses, and laugh uncontrollably. The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.
NAME: Brett Somers
OCCUPATION: Television Actress, Television Personality
BIRTH DATE: July 11, 1924
DEATH DATE: September 15, 2007
PLACE OF BIRTH: New Brunswick, Canada
PLACE OF DEATH: Westport, Connecticut
ORIGINALLY: Audrey Johnston
BEST KNOWN FOR: Brett Somers was a TV actress and personality perhaps best known for her appearances on Match Game, the top game show during much of the 1970s.
Actress, singer, and comedienne Brett Somers was born Audrey Johnston on July 11, 1924, in New Brunswick, Canada, and grew up in Portland, Maine. She ran away from home at age 17 and settled in Greenwich Village in New York City. She changed her first name to Brett after the lead female character in the Ernest Hemingway novel The Sun Also Rises. Somers was her mother’s maiden name. She also became a U.S. citizen.
In 1958, Somers made her Broadway debut in a flop play called Maybe Tuesday, which also featured future TV star Alice Ghostley, who played Esmeralda on Bewitched. She was a lifetime member of the Actors Studio and appeared in Happy Ending, The Seven Year Itch and with her husband Jack Klugman in The Country Girl.
Somers made regular appearances in several early television shows including The Philco Television Playhouse, Kraft Television Theatre, Playhouse 90 and Robert Montgomery Presents. In the 1970s, she became well-known for her appearances on the popular game show Match Game. Hosted by Gene Rayburn, contestants would try to match answers to nonsense questions presented by a panel of celebrities including Somers, Fannie Flag, Richard Dawson and Charles Nelson Reilly. Somers quick-witted quips made her a popular celebrity panelist on the show.
She also made guest appearances in many television shows including Love, American Style, Ben Casey, CHiPs, Love Boat, Barney Miller, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Battlestar Galactica and a revival of the series Perry Mason.
After moving to New York, Somers married and had a daughter, Leslie, before divorcing her first husband. In 1953, she married Jack Klugman, the actor who rose to fame as the star of the television shows The Odd Couple and Quincy. They had two sons, Adam and David.
Somers appeared on several episodes of The Odd Couple, playing Blanche Madison, the ex-wife of Klugman’s character, sloppy sports writer Oscar Madison. Klugman also recommended Somers as panelist on Match Game after he appeared on the show during the first week of its run. The couple regularly appeared together on talk shows including The Mike Douglas Show (1961), The Tonight Show (1962), He Said, She Said (1969) and Match Game (1973).
Somers and Klugman separated in 1974, but never divorced.
In the summer of 2003, Somers wrote, co-produced and appeared in a critically acclaimed one-woman cabaret show, An Evening with Brett Somers. She continued to perform after being diagnosed with cancer.
In 2005, Somers reunited with Jack Klugman onstage in Danger, People at Large, three short comedies presented at Fairfield University. It was the first time in three decades that the former couple had performed together.
Although Somers’ cancer had been in remission, it returned in an inoperable form in 2007. Brett Somers died of stomach and colon cancer on September 15, 2007 at her home in Westport, Connecticut.
Carlotta, Bus Riley’s Back in Town, Universal, 1965.
(Uncredited) Jessie Jay, A Rage to Live, United Artists, 1965.
X–ray lady, Bone (also known as Beverly Hills Nightmare, Dial Rat, Dial Rat for Terror, and Housewife), New World Pictures, 1972.
Television Appearances; Series:
(As Brett Somers–Klugman) Blanche Somers–Madison, The Odd Couple, 1970–75.
Panelist, Match Game 73 (also known as Match Game 74, Match Game 75, Match Game 76, Match Game 77, Match Game 78, Match Game 79, and Match Game), CBS, 1973–82.
Gertrude Lade, The New Perry Mason (also known as The New Adventures of Perry Mason), 1973.
Panelist, Match Game PM, syndicated, 1975–82.
Herself and guest panelist, The Match Game (also known as Match Game 90), ABC, 1990.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Miss Texas chaperone, The Great American Beauty Contest, ABC, 1973.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Herself, The T.V. Show, 1979.
Herself, Magic Moments: The Best of 50’s Pop, PBS, 2004.
Television Appearances; Pilots:
Rose Miller, Getting There, 1980.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
“The World to Nothing,” Robert Montgomery Presents, NBC, 1955.
Cigarette girl, “The Women,” Producers’ Showcase, 1955.
“Teddy Bear,” Kraft Television Theatre, NBC, 1956.
Sarah, “The Poker Fiend,” Have Gun, Will Travel, CBS, 1960.
“Vengeance Is a Wheel,” Naked City, ABC, 1961.
Barbara Thurman, “And If I Die,” Ben Casey, ABC, 1962.
Maude Vega, “Poltergeist,” The Defenders, CBS, 1963.
Myra, “The Eve of St. Elmo,” Have Gun, Will Travel, CBS, 1963.
Mildred Larch, “Blacklist,” The Defenders, CBS, 1964.
Miss Edmonds, “Cry Uncle,” The Fugitive, ABC, 1964.
Amelia Gates, “Image in a Cracked Mirror,” The F.B.I., ABC, 1965.
“Love and the Cheaters,” Love, American Style, ABC, 1972.
“Memory of a Legend,” The F.B.I., ABC, 1973.
Aunt Rose, “Rhoda’s Sister Gets Married,” Mary Tyler Moore, CBS, 1973.
Mrs. Stavocheck, “Stakeout,” Barney Miller, ABC, 1975.
Edna Collins, “The Election,” Barney Miller, ABC, 1976.
Anita Carmichael, “The Man Who Loved Women/A Different Girl/Oh, My Aching Brother,” The Love Boat, ABC, 1978.
Siress Belloby, “The Magnificent Warriors,” Battlestar Galactica, ABC, 1978.
Guest, Password Plus, 1979.
Herself, “Roller Disco: Part 2,” CHiPs, NBC, 1979.
Sarah, “Rent a Romeo/Matchmaker, Matchmaker/Y’ Gotta Have Heart,” The Love Boat, ABC, 1980.
(Uncredited) Herself, “The Great 5K Star Race and Boulder Wrap Party: Part 2,” CHiPs, NBC, 1980.
Herself, Hollywood Squares, syndicated, 2002.
CBS Early Show, CBS, 2002.
Herself, O2Be, 2002.
Florence, Maybe Tuesday, Playhouse Theatre, New York City, 1958.
An Evening with Brett Somers, Danny’s Skylight Room, New York City, 2003–2004.
Holiday Time with Brett, The Duplex, New York City, 2004.
Also appeared in Maybe Tuesday; Happy Ending; Mine Prince Mine King; Night Fishing in Beverly Hills; The Country Girl.
Toured in Seven Year Itch.