Actress Madeline Kahn Dies in New York

Madeline Kahn, the comic actress whom Mel Brooks described as "one of the most talented people that ever lived," died in Manhattan on Friday, December 3, of ovarian cancer. She was 57.

Winner of both the Tony and People's Choice awards, Kahn was noted for her lusty portrayals of off-center characters. Born in Boston and trained as an opera singer, Kahn was a Hofstra University graduate with a degree in dramatic arts. She was featured in more than 40 films and TV shows, including several appearances on Saturday Night Live. Kahn had been undergoing "aggressive" treatment for ovarian cancer at the time of her death, according to Jeff Schneider, a spokesman for the William Morris agency.

The disease also took the life of comedienne Gilda Radner, in 1989. Both actresses had been vocal about the nature of their illnesses in the hope of encouraging other women to seek treatment at an earlier stage of the disease. "Madeline was a performer of brilliance and a loyal and trusted friend to everyone she encountered," said her husband, John Hansbury. He and Kahn were married in October.

In 1993, Kahn won a Tony for her role as Gorgeous Teitelbaum in The Sisters Rosensweig. She had been nominated three times previously, for appearances in: In the Boom Boom Room, in 1973; On the 20th Century, in 1978; and Born Yesterday, in 1989. She was twice nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress: for 1973's Paper Moon, and for her role as saloon singer Lili Von Stupp in Mel Brooks' 1974 western farce, Blazing Saddles.

Kahn attained fame in the 1970s and early '80s as part of Brooks' comic entourage—a group of actors that included Gene Wilder (who later married Gilda Radner), Harvey Korman, Cleavon Little, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman, and Brooks himself—in such films as Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, and Young Frankenstein. She continued to work until quite recently, appearing on the Cosby show, doing voice-over work for A Bug's Life, and completing a feature film, Judy Berlin, due to hit the theaters in February. Fans can view Madeline Kahn's filmography here.