Actress, comedienne and inveterate TV game show celebrity contestant Brett Somers would have celebrated her 90th birthday today. Though it may have seemed like all she appeared on were popular game shows, Brett was a talented actress for many years but truly blossomed in the free-for-all comic environment of CBS' long-running daytime hit Match Game hosted by Gene Rayburn.
Brett was born on July 11, 1924 in New Brunswick, Canada, but felt the lure of show business and made her way to New York City while still a teenager. She became a lifelong member of Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio and cut her performing teeth in plays both on and off Broadway, lots of dramatic TV -- Naked City, The Fugitive, Ben Casey, The Defenders among the series -- and an assortment of movies. Actor Jack Klugman became her 2nd husband in 1953 and they remained together until separating in 1974 but never officially divorcing.
The witty Jack and Brett became sort of a go-to couple for several game shows including He Said, She Said and Password, but when Klugman made an appearance on Match Game 73 and mentioned that Brett would be perfect for the show, nobody had to think twice. Brett also made several appearances on her husband's hit comedy The Odd Couple as his character's ex-wife Blanche and delved into science fiction with a role on the original Battlestar Galactica.
Brett stayed with Match Game 73 and its spin-off Match Game PM for nearly a decade until the shows' cancellations. There was a brief try at a revival in 1990 and Brett did a guest shot but this weekly version didn't last past 32 weeks. She was frequently called upon to reminisce about her years on Match Game and participate in homages and retrospectives on the show. Audiences never fell out of love with Brett Somers bawdy and hilarious personality, especially when paired with the rambunctious Charles Nelson Reilly.
Here's a special made by the Game Show Network in 2006 about Match Game -- the show currently airs Monday - Friday 8am & 8:30am on the network:
Post-Match Game she continued acting on various TV series such as The Love Boat and in the early 2000s starred in the successful and well-reviewed one-woman New York City show titled An Evening with Brett Somers. Not long after this time there were rumors of cancer and on September 15, 2007 she passed away at her home in Connecticut.
Here is a nice clip-based career retrospective of her career from YouTube:
In case you've never come across the YouTube videos which take clips and set them to a song, here is one for Jack Klugman and Brett Somers set to ABBA's "When All is Said and Done":
Another music video tribute:
And more clips:
Brett Somers and her free-wheeling wit are much missed by her fans!