Brett Somers

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Brett Somers
Brett Somers.jpg
Audrey Dawn Johnston

(1924-07-11)July 11, 1924
DiedSeptember 15, 2007(2007-09-15) (aged 83)
Other namesAudrey Klugman, Dawn Johnston
OccupationActress, comedian, singer, game show panelist, writer
Years active1955–2006
Spouse(s)Robert Klein (divorced) [1]
Jack Klugman
(m. 1953;div. 1977)
ChildrenLeslie Klein (died 2006)
David Klugman (b. 1959)
Adam Klugman (b. 1963)
Relatives Jim Fyfe (son-in-law)

Brett Somers (born Audrey Dawn Johnston; July 11, 1924 – September 15, 2007) was a Canadian-American actress, singer, and game-show personality who was born in Canada and raised in Maine. Brett was best known as a panelist on the 1970s game show Match Game and for her recurring role as Blanche Madison opposite her real-life husband, actor Jack Klugman, on The Odd Couple .

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Canada's southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Its capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. As a whole, Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land area being dominated by forest and tundra. Consequently, its population is highly urbanized, with over 80 percent of its inhabitants concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, with 70% of citizens residing within 100 kilometres (62 mi) of the southern border. Canada's climate varies widely across its vast area, ranging from arctic weather in the north, to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons.

Maine State of the United States of America

Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. Maine is the 12th smallest by area, the 9th least populous, and the 38th most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states. It is bordered by New Hampshire to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast, and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec to the northeast and northwest respectively. Maine is the easternmost state in the contiguous United States, and the northernmost state east of the Great Lakes. It is known for its jagged, rocky coastline; low, rolling mountains; heavily forested interior; and picturesque waterways, as well as its seafood cuisine, especially lobster and clams. There is a humid continental climate throughout most of the state, including in coastal areas such as its most populous city of Portland. The capital is Augusta.

Game show Type of television or radio program where contestants compete for prizes

A game show is a type of radio, television, or stage show in which contestants, individually or as teams, play a game which involves answering questions or solving puzzles, usually for money or prizes. Alternatively, a gameshow can be a demonstrative program about a game [while usually retaining the spirit of an awards ceremony]. In the former, contestants may be invited from a pool of public applicants. Game shows often reward players with prizes such as cash, trips and goods and services provided by the show's sponsor prize suppliers.


Personal life

Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, Somers grew up near Portland, Maine. At age 18 she moved to New York City to pursue a career in acting, [2] settling in Greenwich Village. Her chosen first name, Brett, came from the lead female character in Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises . Her chosen last name, Somers, was reportedly her mother's maiden name. [3]

Saint John, New Brunswick City in New Brunswick, Canada

Saint John is a port city on the Bay of Fundy in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. The port is Canada’s third largest port by tonnage with a cargo base that includes dry and liquid bulk, break bulk, containers, and cruise. In 2016, after more than 40 years of population decline, the city became the second most populous city in the province for the first time, with a population of 67,575 over an area of 315.82 square kilometres (121.94 sq mi). Greater Saint John covers a land area of 3,362.95 square kilometres (1,298.44 sq mi) across the Caledonia Highlands, with a population of 126,202. After the partitioning of the colony of Nova Scotia in 1784, the new colony of New Brunswick was thought to be named 'New Ireland' with the capital to be in Saint John before being vetoed by Britain's King George III. Saint John is the oldest incorporated city in Canada. During the reign of George III, the municipality was created by royal charter in 1785.

Portland, Maine Largest city in Maine, United States

Portland is a city in the U.S. state of Maine, with a population of 67,067 as of 2017. The Greater Portland metropolitan area is home to over half a million people, more than one-third of Maine's total population, making it the most populous metro in northern New England. Portland is Maine's economic center, with an economy that relies on the service sector and tourism. The Old Port district is known for its 19th-century architecture and nightlife. Marine industry still plays an important role in the city's economy, with an active waterfront that supports fishing and commercial shipping. The Port of Portland is the largest tonnage seaport in New England.

Greenwich Village Neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City

Greenwich Village often referred to by locals as simply "the Village", is a neighborhood on the west side of Manhattan, New York City, within Lower Manhattan. Broadly, Greenwich Village is bounded by 14th Street to the north, Broadway to the east, Houston Street to the south, and the Hudson River to the west. Greenwich Village also contains several subsections, including the West Village west of Seventh Avenue and the Meatpacking District in the northwest corner of Greenwich Village.

After settling in New York she married Robert Klein and had a daughter, Leslie, before their eventual divorce. [2] She married actor Jack Klugman in 1953 and had two sons, Adam and David. Adam shares his July 11 birthday with Brett. Somers and Klugman were long reported to have separated in 1974 but remained legally married until her death. This belief was furthered by the fact that Klugman waited until after Somers died to marry his second wife. However, California records indicate the couple actually divorced in August 1977. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] Somers became a U.S. citizen late in life.

Jack Klugman American actor

Jack Klugman was an American stage, film, and television actor.


Early career

A member of the Actors Studio from 1952, [9] [10] Somers began her career in theater and made many of her initial television appearances in dramatic programs such as The Philco Television Playhouse , Kraft Television Theatre , Playhouse 90 and Robert Montgomery Presents . [11]

Actors Studio organization for professional actors, theatre directors and playwrights

The Actors Studio is a membership organization for professional actors, theatre directors and playwrights at 432 West 44th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. It was founded October 5, 1947, by Elia Kazan, Cheryl Crawford and Robert Lewis, who provided training for actors who were members. Lee Strasberg joined later and took the helm in 1951 until his death on February 17, 1982.

The Philco Television Playhouse is an American television anthology series that was broadcast live on NBC from 1948 to 1955. Produced by Fred Coe, the series was sponsored by Philco. It was one of the most respected dramatic shows of the Golden Age of Television, winning a 1954 Peabody Award and receiving eight Emmy nominations between 1951 and 1956.

<i>Kraft Television Theatre</i> television series

Kraft Television Theatre is an American drama/anthology television series that began May 7, 1947, on NBC, airing at 7:30pm on Wednesday evenings until December of that year. It first promoted MacLaren's Imperial Cheese, which was advertised nowhere else. In January 1948, it moved to 9pm on Wednesdays, continuing in that timeslot until 1958. Initially produced by the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, the live hour-long series offered television plays with new stories and new characters each week, in addition to adaptations of such classics as A Christmas Carol and Alice in Wonderland. The program was broadcast live from Studio 8-H at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, currently the home of Saturday Night Live.

Her Broadway debut was in the play Maybe Tuesday. The show was a flop and closed after just five performances. [12] She also appeared on stage in productions of Happy Ending, The Seven Year Itch and The Country Girl , the last opposite Klugman. She also amassed a number of film credits including A Rage to Live and Bus Riley's Back in Town . [11]

<i>The Seven Year Itch</i> (play) play written by George Axelrod

The Seven Year Itch is a 1952 three-act play written by George Axelrod starring Tom Ewell and Vanessa Brown.

The Country Girl is a 1950 dramatic play by American playwright Clifford Odets which was subsequently adapted as a film of the same name in 1954.

<i>A Rage to Live</i> 1965 film by Walter Grauman

A Rage to Live is a 1965 American drama film directed by Walter Grauman and starring Suzanne Pleshette as a woman whose passions wreak havoc on her life. The screenplay by John T. Kelley is based on the 1949 novel of the same name by John O'Hara.

Television credits

Somers made many appearances on episodic primetime television, including Love, American Style , The Defenders , Have Gun Will Travel , Ben Casey , CHiPs , The Love Boat , Barney Miller and The Fugitive . In 1973 she played Rhoda Morgenstern's Aunt Rose in the season four episode "Rhoda's Sister Gets Married" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show . [13]

<i>Love, American Style</i> American television series 1969-1974

Love, American Style is an anthology comedy television series produced by Paramount Television that originally aired between 1969 and 1974. For the 1971 and 1972 seasons, it was a part of an ABC Friday prime-time lineup that also included The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Room 222 and The Odd Couple.

<i>The Defenders</i> (1961 TV series) television series

The Defenders is an American courtroom drama series that ran on CBS from 1961 to 1965. It was created by television writer Reginald Rose. Original music for the series was scored by Frank Lewin and Leonard Rosenman.

<i>Ben Casey</i> television series

Ben Casey is an American medical drama series that aired on ABC from 1961 to 1966. The show was known for its opening titles, which consisted of a hand drawing the symbols "♂, ♀, ✳, †, ∞" on a chalkboard, as cast member Sam Jaffe uttered, "Man, woman, birth, death, infinity." Neurosurgeon Joseph Ransohoff served as a medical consultant for the show.

She had a recurring role as Blanche, the former wife of Oscar Madison (played by real-life spouse Jack Klugman) on the ABC sitcom The Odd Couple in the early 1970s. In 1973 she played Perry Mason's receptionist Gertie on The New Perry Mason , a short-lived revival of the classic TV series, with Monte Markham as Perry Mason. [11] She played the role of Siress Belloby on the 1978 science-fiction series Battlestar Galactica .

Match Game

Somers was best known for her appearances as a panelist on the 1970s CBS game show Match Game . For her debut episodes she sat in the lower-left panel position, but for the remainder of her tenure she occupied the middle-center seat of the upper tier, most often next to Charles Nelson Reilly, who joined as a regular around the same time as Brett and most-frequently occupied the top-right seat. She was clearly left-handed as she was always seen writing her answers with her left hand. [14] The show became known for somewhat outlandish and risque dialogue, sometimes being described as a game played at a cocktail party. Somers was a familiar on-screen presence, wearing enormous eyeglasses and various wigs. She played foil to Charles Nelson Reilly, Betty White, Scoey Mitchell, Fannie Flagg and many others. Somers was sometimes the subject of questions on Match Game, such as "You may or may not believe in reincarnation, but listen to this. In a previous life, Brett used to be a ________."

Somers was not originally considered for the celebrity panel. When spouse Jack Klugman appeared during the first week of the program in 1973 he suggested that the producers bring her aboard. She remained a regular panelist for the rest of the show's nine-year network and syndicated run. Her appearances on Match Game led radio personality Robin Quivers to impersonate her in parodies of such game shows on The Howard Stern Show . Quivers' impersonation of Somers was featured in the film Private Parts . [11]

Later life and death

In 2002 she appeared with Charles Nelson Reilly and Betty White (via videolink) as part of a Match Game reunion on the CBS program The Early Show . She appeared with Reilly on Hollywood Squares during that show's "Game Show Week" in 2002. In 2006 she was a prominent interviewee in The Real Match Game Story: Behind The Blank on GSN and hosted the Match Game DVD as well. [11] She appeared in a cabaret show An Evening with Brett Somers in 2003-04. [3]

In 2004 [15] she appeared on the PBS concert special "Magic Moments – The Best of '50s Pop". [16] In the two-minute segment, hosted by Wink Martindale, Somers was a member of a faux quiz-show panel with Dr. Joyce Brothers and Rip Taylor.

During a 2002 interview Somers denied rumors that she had cancer. She reiterated that point in future interviews. [8] Somers had a naturally husky voice that might have caused the misconception that she suffered from a throat ailment. However, she was diagnosed with cancer in 2004. Following a period of remission she died on September 15, 2007 at her home in Westport, Connecticut at age 83. Her younger son, Adam, gave the cause of her death as stomach and colon cancer. [17]

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  1. NNDB
  2. 1 2 Andrew Gans "DIVA TALK: A Chat with "Match Game" Star Brett Somers" Archived December 24, 2006, at the Wayback Machine ,, July 11, 2003
  3. 1 2 "Brett Somers, 83; 'Match Game' regular was a comedian, actress". Associated Press. September 18, 2007. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  4. "Ancestry Library Edition". Retrieved 2017-03-13.
  5. ""California Divorce Index, 1966-1984," database, FamilySearch". 15 May 2014. Retrieved 2017-03-13. Audrey Johnston and Jack Klugman, Aug 1977; from "California Divorce Index, 1966-1984"
  6. "Citing Los Angeles, California, Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento".\accessdate=2017-03-13. 2007.
  7. "Jack Klugman dies",, December 24, 2012; accessed July 9, 2015.
  8. 1 2 Michael Portantiere, "Somers in the City" Archived 2007-02-07 at the Wayback Machine ,, July 3, 2003.
  9. Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 280. ISBN   0-02-542650-8.
  10. Knopf, Terry Ann. "The Rula Lenska of Game Shows". The Boston Globe. December 14, 1980. "She has been a member of the Actors' Studio for more than 25 years - proudly noting she joined the same year as James Dean."
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 Brett Somers on IMDb
  12. Maybe Tuesday at the Internet Broadway Database
  13. "The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Season 4, Episode 3 Rhoda's Sister Gets Married". TVGuide.
  14. Eakin, Marah; Teti, John; Adams, Erik (June 16, 2014). "Bonus round stars: 9 celebrities who found their greatest fame on game shows". The A.V. Club . Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  15. PBS's "Magic Moments - The Best of '50s Pop at WorldCat. Retrieved June 16, 2019
  16. "Magic Moments - The Best of 50s' [sic] Pop (My Music #102)". KLVX. Archived from the original on June 16, 2009. Retrieved June 16, 2019.
  17. "Actress Brett Somers of "Match Game" fame dies at 83". September 17, 2007. Retrieved August 29, 2015.