“Edmond” Actress, Frances Bay 1919-2011

It’s a sad day for us as our friend and Edmond actress, Frances Bay has passed away.

Frances Bay (January 23, 1919 – September 15, 2011) was a U.S.-based Canadian character actress, best known for playing quirky, elderly women on film and television. She began her acting career in her mid-50s.

Film Career

The lovely Frances did not appear in films until she got a small part in Foul Play, a 1978 comedy starring Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. A year earlier, she appeared as Mrs. Hamilton in the Christmas television special Christmastime with Mister Rogers. She went on to play small roles in films like The Karate Kid, Big Top Pee-wee and Twins.

Her first major television appearance occurred playing the grandmother to the character of Arthur Fonzarelli (aka “The Fonz”) on Happy Days. She described Henry Winkler (who played Fonzarelli) as “just a sweet guy. He lost his own grandmother in the Holocaust, and he wrote me a letter saying I was his virtual grandmother”. In 1983, she played the grandmother in Little Red Riding Hood in Faerie Tale Theatre for Showtime.

Work With David Lynch

In 1986, Bay appeared as the doddery aunt of Kyle MacLachlan’s character in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. This role seems to have endeared the actress to Lynch, who recast her in several subsequent works, including as a foul-mouthed madam in Wild at Heart, and as Mrs. Tremond on Twin Peaks and its movie spin-off, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.

Other Roles

She may be best-remembered for her performance as the loving grandmother of Adam Sandler’s titular character in the 1996 film Happy Gilmore. Bay is also familiar from her performance in the music video for Jimmy Fallon’s comedy song “Idiot Boyfriend”. She made an appearance as Mrs. Pickman in John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness.

Frances’ Death

Bay died in Tarzana, California of complications from pneumonia, aged 92.