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Character actress Frances Bay, who played quirky, elderly women in such films and TV shows as Big Top Pee-wee, The Wedding Planner and as the marble rye lady on Seinfeld, died Sept 15. She was 92.
Bay died Thursday at Providence Tarzana Medical Center in Los Angeles, her cousin Marly Zaslov of Vancouver told the Los Angeles Times. Bay had been ill with various infections.
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The Alberta, Canada, native began her acting career when she almost 60 with a small part in the 1978 comedy Foul Play, starring Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. In the early 1980s, she appeared on TV series The Jeffersons and The Dukes of Hazzard and had a recurring role on Happy Days.
After working in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986), the writer-director cast the actress in his 1990 film Wild at Heart and his TV series Twin Peaks. Bay also appeared in the movie spinoff Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) and played Adam Sandler’s sweet grandmother in Happy Gilmore (1996).
In a 1996 episode of Seinfeld, Jerry steals a loaf of marble rye from her outside a bakery. The character, Mable Choate, returned as a neighbor of Jerry’s parents — and the deciding vote in Jerry’s dad’s impeachment as president of the condo association — in “The Cadillac (Part 2)” and as a prosecution witness in the series finale.
Bay was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2008. The selection committee received letters from Bay’s celebrity friends and co-workers, including Sandler, Seinfeld, Lynch and Henry Winkler, among others, in addition to a petition with 10,000 names on her behalf.
Despite being struck by a car in 2002 in Glendale, Calif. (she had to have part of her right leg amputated), Bay continued to appear on TV in such series as Hannah Montana and The Middle. She also was a veteran of the L.A. theater scene.
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