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Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Molly Picon

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Molly Picon
Picon in the 1920s
Małka Opiekun[1]

February 28, 1898
DiedApril 5, 1992 (aged 94)
Resting placeMount Hebron Cemetery, New York City
Years active1904–1984
Jacob Kalich
(m. 1919; died 1975)
Molly Picon's husband was Jacob Kalich, second from left, seen in 1921

Molly Picon [2](Yiddishמאָלי פּיקאָן‎; February 28, 1898[3] – April 5, 1992) was an American actress of stage, screen and television, as well as a lyricist and dramatic story-teller.[4]

She was first and foremost a star in Yiddish theatre and film, but in time, she turned to English-language productions.

Early life[edit]

Picon was born in New York City, the daughter of Polish-Jewish immigrants: Clara (née Ostrow), a wardrobe mistress, and Louis Opiekun, a shirtmaker.[5] Opiekun is a Polish language name meaning "guardian" or "caretaker". Her surname was later changed to Picon. Her career began at the age of six in the Yiddish Theatre. In 1912, she debuted at the Arch Street Theatre in Philadelphia and became a star of the Yiddish Theater District, performing in plays in the District for seven years.[6][7]


Picon was so popular in the 1920s, many shows had her adopted name, Molly, in their title. In 1931, she opened the Molly Picon Theatre.

Picon appeared in many films, beginning with silent movies. Her early films were made in Europe; among the first was the Yiddish language East and West, filmed in Vienna in 1923, which is the earliest of her movies that survives.[8][9] The film depicts a clash of New and Old World Jewish cultures. She plays a U.S.-born daughter who travels with her father back to Galicia in East Central Europe.[8] Her husband Jacob Kalich played one of her close relatives.[citation needed]

Picon as Mrs. Bronson, 1962.

Picon's most famous picture, Yidl Mitn Fidl (1936), was filmed on location in Poland and shows her wearing male clothing throughout most of the movie. The story concerns a girl and her father who are forced by poverty to set out on the road as traveling musicians. For her safety, she disguises herself as a boy, which becomes inconvenient when she falls in love with one of the other musicians in the troupe. Another of her films, titled Mamele was also shot in Poland.[10]

In 1934, Picon had a musical comedy radio show, the Molly Picon Program, broadcast on WMCA in New York City. In 1938, she starred another radio program on WMCA, I Give You My Life. That program "combined music and dramatic episodes that purported to be the story of her life." Two years later, she starred in Molly Picon's Parade, a variety show on WMCA.[11]

Picon made her English language debut on stage in 1940. On Broadway, she starred in the Jerry Herman musical Milk and Honey in 1961. In 1966, she dropped out of the disastrous Chu Chem during previews in Philadelphia; the show closed before reaching Broadway.

Picon had a bit part in the 1948 film The Naked City as the woman running a news-stand and soda fountain towards the climax of the film. Her first major Anglophonic role in the movies was in the film version of Come Blow Your Horn (1963), with Frank Sinatra. One of her best-known film roles was as Yente the Matchmaker in the 1971 film adaptation of the Broadway hit Fiddler on the Roof.

Picon appeared as Molly Gordon in an episode of CBS's Gomer Pyle, USMC and had a recurring role as Mrs. Bronson in the NBC police comedy Car 54, Where Are You?.

In the comedy For Pete's Sake (1974), she appeared as an elderly madam ("Mrs. Cherry") who arranges a disastrous stint for Barbra Streisand on a job as a call girl.[12] She later had television roles on the soap opera Somerset and appeared in a few episodes of The Facts of Life as Natalie's grandmother. Picon's final role was as Roger Moore's mother in cameo appearances in the comedies Cannonball Run & Cannonball Run II in 1981 and 1984, respectively.


Picon wrote a biography about her family called So Laugh a Little in 1962. In 1980, she published her autobiography, Hello, Molly!.


  • An entire room was filled with her memorabilia at the Second Avenue Deli in New York (now closed at the Second Avenue location).
  • The New Century Theatre, a former legitimate Broadway theatre located at 932 Seventh Avenue at West 58th Street in midtown Manhattan (since closed and demolished), was at one point known as the Molly Picon Theatre.
  • She was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981.[13]
  • Picon Pie, a biographical play, ran off-Broadway from 2004 to 2005.
  • In 2007, she was featured in the film Making Trouble, a tribute to female Jewish comedians, produced by the Jewish Women's Archive.[14]
  • Costumes she wore in various theater productions are displayed at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia.


Picon died on April 6, 1992, aged 94, from Alzheimer's disease in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Yankel Kalich, her husband from 1919 until his death in 1975, died from cancer. They had no children. She and her husband are interred in the Yiddish Theater section of the Mount Hebron Cemetery in New York City.


1922Look After Your Daughters
1923East and WestMollie[15]
1936Yiddle with His FiddleItke aka Judel
1937Let's Make a Night of ItSpecialty ActUncredited
1938MameleKhavtshi Samet aka Mamele[16]
1948The Naked CitySoda-Selling ShopkeeperUncredited
1959StartimeSarah RabinowitzEpisode: "The Jazz Singer", a TV production starring Jerry Lewis
1961-1963Car 54, Where Are You?Mrs. Rachel Bronson3 episodes
1963Come Blow Your HornMrs. Sophie Baker
1971Fiddler on the RoofYente
1974For Pete's SakeMrs. Cherry
1975Murder on Flight 502Ida Goldman
1979That's Life
1981The Cannonball RunMom Goldfarb
1984Cannonball Run II


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Molly Picon"IMDb. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  3. ^ Jewish Archived November 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Tucson Daily Citizen (Tucson, Arizona), August 29, 1952, p. 16
  5. ^ "Molly Picon Biography ((?)-1992)" Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  6. ^ Pennsylvania Biographical Dictionary. North American Book Dist LLC. Retrieved March 10, 2013.
  7. ^ Milton Plesur (1982). Jewish life in twentieth-century America: challenge and accommodation. Nelson-Hall. Retrieved March 10, 2013.
  8. Jump up to:a b Shandler, Jeffrey (2014). Shtetl: A Vernacular Intellectual History. Rutgers, NJ: Rutgers University Press. p. 41.
  9. ^ "This Week in History: Award for Yiddish actress, Molly Picon, June 28, 1980". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  10. ^ "Mamele (1938)". Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  11. ^ Sies, Luther F. (2014). Encyclopedia of American Radio, 1920-1960, 2nd Edition, Volume 1. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-5149-4. Pp. 523, 337, 455.
  12. ^ For Pete's Sake on IMDb
  13. ^ "26 Elected to the Theater Hall of Fame." The New York Times, March 3, 1981.
  14. ^ Deming, Mark. "Making Trouble: Three Generations of Funny Jewish Women"New York Times. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  15. ^ "East and West" [film catalog entry]. National Center for Jewish Film. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  16. ^ Mamele on IMDb


  • Eth Clifford. Molly Picon – So Laugh a Little, Messner, 1962 (see [1]).
  • Lila Perl, Donna Ruff. Molly Picon: A Gift of Laughter, Jewish Publication Society, 1990, ISBN 0-8276-0336-3.

External links[edit]

Cindy Pickett


She is known for her 1970s role as Jackie Marler-Spaulding on the CBS soap Guiding Light and Dr. Carol Novino on the television drama St. Elsewhere in the 1980s.[1] Pickett, however, is best known to audiences for her lighter turn as Katie Bueller, Ferris Bueller's loving and unsuspecting mother, in the 1986 American comedy movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Other notable cinematic roles and performances include Valerie St. John in Roger Vadim's 1980 film, Jeux de Nuit / Night Games, for which she would have the leading role, and as the tough-as-nails and heroic Dr. Jane Norris in the 1989 sci-fi-horror film DeepStar Six.



Pickett made a major departure from her soap opera image when she played the central role in the 1980 erotic film Jeux de Nuit / Night Games, directed by Roger Vadim.[2] It was a sexually charged role involving numerous nude scenes, however the film went unnoticed and did not boost Pickett's career. In the 1981 mystery/crime drama Margin for Murder, Pickett played the role of Velda, Mike Hammer's (Kevin Dobson) loyal and devoted secretary. She played "Jackie Marler" on the soap opera The Guiding Light from 1976 to 1980,[3] "Vanessa Sarnac" on the ABC weekly TV series Call to Glory from 1984 to 1985,[4] and she appeared as Dr. Carol Novino on the hospital drama TV series St. Elsewhere from 1986 to 1988.[5]

Pickett had a supporting role in the 1987 mini-series Amerika, which she then considered to be her "best part and the best showcase" she ever had.[1] In 1991 she played the part of Addy Mathewson in the TV movie/pilot Plymouth, which at the time was considered to be one of the most expensive such movies ever made. Pickett portrayed the real-life Kay Stayner, the mother of a boy who was kidnapped for several years, in the dramatic TV movie I Know My First Name Is Steven. TV series she has guest-starred on include RiptideSimon & SimonMagnum, P.I.L.A. LawMurder, She WroteThe PretenderNYPD BlueCSI: MiamiWithout a TraceCrossing Jordan and Burn Notice.

Personal life[edit]

Pickett was born in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, daughter of Cecil Pickett, a director and drama teacher at the University of Houston.[6] She dated Roger Vadim, who directed her in Night Games. She met Lyman Ward when they played the parents of the teenaged protagonist in the 1986 film Ferris Bueller's Day Off. They married in real life, divorcing shortly after playing the parents of the teenaged protagonist in the 1992 film Sleepwalkers.[7] Pickett is a collector of stereopticon cards.[5]



1980Night GamesValerie St. John
1981Circle of PowerLyn Nilsson
1986Ferris Bueller's Day OffKatie Bueller
1986The Men's ClubHannah
1988Hot to TrotVictoria Peyton
1989DeepStar SixDiane Norris
1991Crooked HeartsJill
1992Original IntentMargueriteVideo
1992SleepwalkersHelen Robertson
1993Son in LawConnie Warner
1993The Goodbye BirdSharon Phillips
1995EvolverMelanie Baxter
1996Kid CopBeverly DwerkinVideo
1996Coyote SummerMaggie Foster
1997Painted HeroSadie
2000The StepdaughterMaggie ConnerVideo
2005Hate CrimeBarbara McCoy
2008The Village BarbershopJosie
2011Mother CountryPamela Dupree
2016Chasing the RainBonnie
2016Like a ButterflyWendyShort
2016White WingsJaniceShort
2016ConfessionJulie WarrenShort
2016Te AtaMiss Davis
2017Opus of an AngelSister MonicaPost-production


1979–80Guiding LightJackie Marler-SpauldingTV series
1980The Ivory ApeLil TylerTV film
1981Margin for MurderVeldaTV film
1981The Cherokee TrailMary BreydonTV film
1982Cry for the StrangersElaine RussellTV film
1983Cocaine and Blue EyesCatherine AnatoleTV film
1983Bring 'Em Back AliveLaura Davies"Bones of Contention"
1984RiptideNatalie Kramer"Somebody's Killing the Great Geeks of America"
1984Simon & SimonAddie Becker"The Dillinger Print"
1984Magnum, P.I.Karen Teal"Dream a Little Dream"
1984–85Call to GloryVanessa SarnacMain role
1986Alfred Hitchcock PresentsMarcia Loomis"The Gloating Place"
1986–88St. ElsewhereDr. Carol NovinoMain role
1987AmerikaAmanda BradfordTV miniseries
1987Echoes in the DarknessSue MyersTV film
1987Into the HomelandRye SwallowTV film
1989I Know My First Name Is StevenKay StaynerTV miniseries
1990ABC Afterschool SpecialJoanne Kelly"A Question About Sex"
1991PlymouthAddy MatthewsonTV film
1991Our Shining MomentBetty McGuireTV film
1992Wild CardDanaTV film
1992L.A. LawLois Alner"Love on the Rox"
1994Murder, She WroteJoanna Sims"Wheel of Death"
1995SirensPam Dunbridge"The Witness"
1995Not Our SonMargaret KellerTV film
1995Her Hidden TruthLaney DevereauxTV film
1996The Making of a Hollywood MadamElissa FleissTV film
1996Time Well SpentBarbara MarksTV film
1997The PretenderDr. Shafton"Unhappy Landings"
1998Atomic DogJennifer YatesTV film
1998–99Hyperion BayMarjorie SweeneyMain role
2001The HuntressGina Thorson"The Two Mrs. Thorsons: Part 1"
2004Crossing JordanLaura Corday"Dead in the Water"
2005NYPD BlueFrancine Beckett"La Bomba"
2005CSI: MiamiMiranda Lewis"Whacked"
2006McBride: Fallen IdolTracy FranksTV film
2006Ghost WhispererMarybeth Kaminsky"The Woman of His Dreams"
2007Cold CaseSara Lowell / Johanna Kimball"Blood on the Tracks"
2007MediumTanya King"1-900-Lucky"
2008Burn NoticeDiane"Trust Me"
2010Elf Sparkle and the Special Red DressSnowball (voice)TV film
2013My Synthesized LifeLouise Bales"Meet the Parents"
2014The MentalistRachel"Black Helicopters"
2014Stranded in ParadiseMona NelsonTV film
2016OutcastLauren"Close to Home"
2017Age of the Living DeadAmandaTV series
20??Star Trek Equinox: The Night of TimeAdm. GrayTV film, filming


  1. Jump up to:a b Scott, Vernon (February 18, 1987). "Actress says 'Amerika' provides her best role"Sun-Sentinel. United Press International.
  2. ^ Maslin, Janet (April 11, 1980). "Screen: 'Night Games,' Roger Vadim's Bel Air: With Feathers"The New York Times.
  3. ^ "Who's Who in Springfield: Jacqueline Marler"
  4. ^ Terrance, Vincent (2014). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (Second ed.). McFarland. p. 154. ISBN 9780786486410.
  5. Jump up to:a b Hall, Ken (July 2011). "The Celebrity Collector: Cindy Pickett" Southeastern Antiquing and Collecting Magazine.
  6. ^ "Cindy Pickett Biography (1947-)"
  7. ^ Coriaty, Spencer (March 28, 2016). "Where Are They Now? The Cast of Ferris Bueller's Day Off"

External links[edit]

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