Hofstra graduate Madeline Kahn was trained for an operatic career, but found her most gainful employment in musical comedy and revue work. While reducing audiences to tears of laughter as a member of New York's Upstairs at the Downstairs satirical troupe, Kahn made her first appearance in the short-subject Bergman lampoon, The Dove (1968). She was officially discovered for films by Peter Bogdanovich, who cast her as Ryan O'Neal's frowsy fiancee in What's Up, Doc?. Kahn was nominated for Academy Awards for her portrayals of Southern doxy Trixie Delight in Bogdanovich's Paper Moon and Dietrich-like chanteuse Lilly Von Schtupp ("Oh, it's twue, it's twue, it's twue!") in Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles. Madeline went on to co-star in Brooks' Young Frankenstein and High Anxiety, and made a return trip to the Bogdanovich fold in the disastrous At Long Last Love. Her manic comedy could be appealing, but, to paraphrase the late film encyclopedist Leslie Haliwell, it became a quickly overplayed hand. On Broadway, Kahn co-starred with Danny Kaye in Two by Two and was starred in the musical version of Twentieth Century, a grueling experience that all but destroyed her singing voice. Madeline won a Tony award for her non-musical performance in Wendy Wasserstein's The Sisters Rosenzweig. Kahn's TV projects include the 1983 sitcom Oh, Madeline (based on the British series, Pig in the Middle), a single season as George C. Scott's virago sister-in-law in Mr. President, and Cosby, the most recent project of comedian Bill Cosby, a sitcom that premiered in 1996. In 1995, Madeline Kahn was superbly cast as Martha Mitchell in Oliver Stone's Nixon and as a vituperative gossip columnist Nan Chase in New York News.
Temporary biography summary authored by Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide