Connie Sawyer, the oldest working actress in Hollywood, has died after suffering a heart attack at the Motion Picture Television Fund retirement home where she lived. She was 105.
Sawyer, whose IMDB reveals she has appeared on everything from The Andy Griffith Show to Mary Tyler Moore to Will & Grace – and was most recently seen as the mother of James Woods‘ character in Ray Donovan – was born Rosie Cohen in Pueblo, Colorado, in 1912 (the year the Titanic sank) to a Jewish family from Romania. As a teenager, she got her first gig on the radio, then went on to work the Vaudeville circuit and nightclubs.
“I learned all about show business,” she told People last year. “I played every nightclub across the United States in the ’30s, and some of them were real dumps. But that’s how I got into the biz.”
Her big break came in 1957 when Frank Sinatra‘s agent saw her in the Broadway comedy A Hole in the Head.
The singer purchased the rights for the play, and Sawyer was the only Broadway cast member hired for the film.
That led to roles alongside Jackie Gleason, Kirk Douglas, Milton Berle, Robert Mitchum, Susan Hayward and Dean Martin. She never stopped working, and Sawyer said she was perfectly happy not becoming a major star.
“On the whole, it’s been a good [career] considering I began in nightclub dumps,” she told The Spectrum in 2016. “Frankie (Sinatra) told me ‘Never give up and you’ll always find a good part somewhere, sometime.’ And I did.”
RIP, you’ve earned it Connie.