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Actress and singer Shannon Bolin Kaye, whom George Abbott cast as Meg Boyd in the original Broadway production of Damn Yankees, died Friday in New York, her friend, Jane Klain, reported. She was 99.
For the 1958 Warner Bros. film version, Bolin Kaye returned to play the middle-aged, Midwestern housewife to whom the young Washington Senators player Joe Hardy (Stephen Douglass in the play, Tab Hunter in the movie) longs to return.
Damn Yankees opened on Broadway in May 1955 and was a sensation, running for more than 1,000 performances.
When Warner Bros. bought the rights to the play as a vehicle for Hunter, he and Bolin Kaye knew that it would be up to them to make the relationship between the handsome young man and the housewife convincing, so the two went off by themselves to rehearse, Klain noted.
The two remained great friends, and Bolin Kaye appeared in the documentary Tab Hunter Confidential (2015).
In the 1980s to ‘90s, she played one of the two bickering Corlick sisters in a long-running series of Denny’s commercials, mistakenly calling the restaurant “Lenny’s.”
Born in Spencer, S.D., Bolin Kaye worked as a schoolteacher and at the Justice Department in Washington before jumping into show business. A mezzo-soprano, she performed in concert, on the radio and in television operas.
She was married to composer and arranger Milton Kaye from 1946 until his death in 2006.
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