Connie Sawyer, who appeared alongside everyone from Sophie Tucker to Frank Sinatra to James Franco in a late-blooming career that saw her continue to work until recently, has died. She was 105.
Sawyer, who played Franco’s grandmother in Pineapple Express (2008) and was the little old lady who robs Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber (1994), died over the weekend at the Motion Picture & Television Country House in Woodland Hills, a spokesperson for the retirement home told The Hollywood Reporter.
As she was approaching 50, Sawyer landed her first movie role as the drunk Miss Wexler in the Frank Capra comedy A Hole in the Head (1959), appearing opposite Sinatra and Edward G. Robinson. She had made a splash in the earlier Broadway production, and Sinatra insisted she be in the film as well.
The genial Sawyer also played the wife of one of the documentary couples interviewed in Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally … (1989), but she wanted the hilarious role of the woman in the delicatessen who says, “I’ll have what she’s having” after Meg Ryan’s fake orgasm.
“I’m reading the script and I come to the place where the girl is in the restaurant and she’s having an orgasm,” she recalled. “I ran up to [Reiner] and said, ‘I want to do the show-stopping line!’ He said, ‘My mother did it.’”
Often showing up as chatty, gossipy women, Sawyer appeared in such notable films as The Way West (1967), True Grit (1969), Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice(1969), The Man in the Glass Booth (1975), Oh, God! (1977), Foul Play (1978), … And Justice for All (1979), The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), Out of Sight (1998) and Something’s Gotta Give (2003).
Her TV résumé includes The Jackie Gleason Show; Dr. Kildare; The Fugitive; The Andy Griffith Show; All in the Family; McMillan & Wife; The Mary Tyler Moore Show; Laverne & Shirley; Welcome Back, Kotter; Seinfeld; Will & Grace; ER; New Girl (as playing “The Oldest Woman in the World”); Ray Donovan and Last Week Tonight.
For the John Oliver-hosted show, she told THR in April 2015, “They said, ‘Get Connie to do this.’ I had to get to 102 not to have to audition — for once!”
Sawyer has about 140 acting credits listed on IMDb, virtually all of them small roles.
“I never really wanted to be a star. It’s a business with me. I like to keep workin’. Just keep me workin’ — and let me get the residuals,” she said.
She was born Rosie Cohen on Nov. 27, 1912 — Thanksgiving Day — in Pueblo, Colorado. Her father worked as a store clerk, and her mom was an aspiring actress.
(Excerpt) Read More in: The Hollywood Reporter