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Character Actress Frances Bay Dies At 92. She Could “Swear Like a Fishwife.”

so long and thanks for all the fish

Frances Bay, whose career spanned decades and didn’t even start until she was in her 50s, passed away this past Thursday at the age of 92. Born in 1919 in Mannville, Alberta, Canada, she scored her first film in 1978 — Foul Play — and went on to appear in several popular TV shows and films including Happy Days, Seinfeld, and Happy Gilmore, in which she was memorably threatened by a mustachioed Ben Stiller.

Bay was one of those “old ladies who is in everything,” but the fact that she didn’t even start her career until her 50s is pretty notable. She married her high school sweetheart, Charles Bay, then put her acting dreams aside to be a homemaker and raise their son, Josh (who passed away at the age of 23). Charles’ work eventually brought the family to the United States, and they moved to New York so Frances could pursue acting. And she was successful right off the bat.

“I don’t know if it was women’s lib or something that kind of turned inside of me, but I just started doing it: got new pictures, started pounding the pavement, went to agents — and I got work.”

After Foul Play, which starred Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase, Bay played Fonzie’s Grandma Nussbaum in the final episodes of Happy Days (Henry Winkler even referred to her as his “virtual grandmother”) and formed an alliance with director David Lynch, appearing in Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, and Twin Peaks. But most famously, she played Adam Sandler‘s grandmother in Happy Gilmore and the “marble rye lady” on Seinfeld. (She even returned for the series finale.) Her final role was “Aunt Ginny” on ABC‘s The Middle.

Bay also had a great career on stage, playing roles in Grease, Finnegan’s Wake, The Man Who Came to Dinner, and Bosoms and Neglect, after which she was quoted as saying, “I can swear like a fishwife.”

The recognizable face of Frances Bay will be sorely missed, and we are lucky to have been the beneficiaries of her illustrious career. And her “fishwife” swearing.

(via LA Times)

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