Frances Bay, a Canadian housewife who got into acting in her mid-50s and ultimately landing roles in both film and television, passed away this past Thursday, September 15, at Providence Tarzana Medical Center in California. She was 92.
Born in Mannville, Canada, on January 23, 1919, Bay had deferred her childhood dreams of becoming an actress in favor of being a wife and mother until she ventured into show business in her mid-50s. Landing an agent in 1973, her first big break followed a move from New York to Los Angeles when she landed a part in the 1978 Chevy Chase-Goldie Hawn comedy Foul Play.
A majority of her career was spent in television, with appearances on such sitcoms as Hart To Hart, The Jeffersons, Dream On!, and The Dukes Of Hazzard. Although she made several appearances on Happy Days as the Fonz’s Grandma Nussbaum, her most memorable television may be her role opposite Jerry Seinfeld as a woman who confronts the comic over a loaf of rye bread on his eponymous series.
Outside of a major supporting role in the Adam Sabdler comedy Happy Gilmore (1996), Bay’s film work was largely confined to working with director David Lynch in Blue Velvet (1986), Wild at Heart (1990) and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992). Other film roles include The Karate Kid (1984), Big Top Pee-wee (1988), Twins (1988), The Grifters (1990), Single White Female (1992) and Stranger Than Fiction (2000).