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‘Seinfeld,’ ‘Happy Gilmore’ actress Bay dies

Sat., Sept. 17, 2011

Frances Bay, the sweet, gentle housewife who became a successful actress in middle age, appearing in more than 50 motion pictures and 100 television shows including roles as the “marble rye lady” on “Seinfeld” and the grandmother in Adam Sandler’s “Happy Gilmore,” has died. She was 92.

Bay died Thursday at Providence Tarzana Medical Center in the San Fernando Valley. Bay had been ill with various infections.

Born in Mannville, Alberta, on Jan. 23, 1919, the shy, diminutive Bay began acting in Winnipeg, Manitoba – voicing princesses on radio shows – and then in Toronto.

Yet when she married her childhood sweetheart, businessman Charles Bay, the wannabe actress shelved her aspirations and became a homemaker when his job took them to the United States.

In the 1970s, when the couple were living in Manhattan, she resumed her acting studies, and when the Bays moved to Boston, she began acting in dinner theater, summer stock and radio.

When she and her husband moved permanently to Los Angeles, Bay’s career began to skyrocket. Beginning with the 1978 motion picture “Foul Play” starring Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase, and moving into television a couple of years later with appearances on “The Jeffersons,” “Dukes of Hazzard” and indelibly as Fonzie’s Grandma Nussbaum in “Happy Days,” Bay was never again in want of work.

Her characters were often described simply as “old woman,” “elderly neighbor,” an aunt or a grandmother. On “Seinfeld,” she memorably played a woman who tangled with Jerry over the last loaf of marble rye bread.


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