Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Brett Somers Death

Born as Audrey Johnston in New Brunswick, Canada, she grew up near Portland, Maine. She ran away from home at age 17 and moved to New York City to pursue a career in acting. There she settled in Greenwich Village. She changed her first name to "Brett" after the lead female character in Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, and the surname "Somers" was her mother's maiden name. She became a U.S. citizen late in life.

After moving to New York City, Somers married and had a daughter, Leslie, before divorcing her first husband.In 1953, she married actor Jack Klugman; they had two sons: Adam and David. The couple separated in 1974, but never divorced.

In 2002, Somers reunited with Charles Nelson Reilly (d. 2007) and Betty White for an interview on CBS' The Early Show (White appeared by videolink from California) to reminisce about Match Game. During the interview, she denied rumors that she had suffered from cancer. She would reiterate that point in future interviews.[5] Somers had a naturally husky voice which may have caused the misperception that she suffered from a throat ailment. Her son Adam gave the cause of her death as stomach and colon cancer, which first developed in 2004 but was held in remission until August 2007.

At the time of her death, she resided in Westport, Connecticut.[4] She was survived by her husband (Klugman) and their two sons. Her daughter, Leslie (from Somers' first marriage) died in 2003 from lung cancer.

Early career

Somers began her career in theater, and made many of her initial television appearances in theatrical programs like "Philco Playhouse". "Kraft Theater Playhouse 90", and "Robert Montgomery Presents". Her Broadway debut, in the play "Maybe Tuesday", was a flop; the show closed after five performances. [8] She also appeared in Happy Ending, The Seven Year Itch and The Country Girl with her husband, Jack Klugman. She also amassed a number of film credits, including Getting There, Bone, Bus Riley's Back in Town and The Great American Beauty Pageant.

Television credits

Somers made many appearances on episodic primetime television, including Love, American Style, The Defenders, Have Gun Will Travel, Ben Casey, CHiPs, The Love Boat, Barney Miller, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Fugitive.

Somers had recurring roles as the ex-wife of Oscar Madison (played by real-life spouse Klugman) on the ABC sitcom television series The Odd Couple in the early 1970s, as well as the role of "Siress Belloby" on the science fiction series Battlestar Galactica in 1978. She played Perry Mason's receptionist "Gertie" on a short-lived revival of the series in 1973 which featured Monte Markham as Perry Mason.

A tall woman, perhaps 5'9" or 5'10", Somers was best-known for her appearances as a panelist on the 1970s CBS game show Match Game. She and the show became known for somewhat outlandish and risque dialogue; the show has been described as having the feel of being at a game at someone's cocktail party. Somers was an iconic on-screen presence, wearing enormous eyeglasses, various wigs, and playing foil to Charles Nelson Reilly, Betty White, Richard Dawson, and Fannie Flagg, among others. Somers was often the subject of questions on Match Game, such as "You may or may not believe in reincarnation, but listen to this. In a previous life, Brett used to be a ________."

Somers was not originally on the celebrity panel. When spouse Jack Klugman appeared on the first week of the program in 1973, he suggested that producers bring her aboard. Her wit and dry humor proved extremely successful, and she would remain a regular panelist for the remainder of the show's nine year network and syndicated run.

Later life

Somers maintained a fairly active life until her death. In 2002, she appeared with Charles Nelson Reilly and Betty White (via videolink) as part of a Match Game reunion on CBS's The Early Show. She also appeared with Reilly on Hollywood Squares during that show's "Game Show Week" in 2003.

In 2006, she was a prominent interviewee in The Real Match Game Story: Behind the Blank on GSN, and hosted the Match Game DVD as well (by this time, Gene Rayburn was dead and Reilly had become mortally ill, leaving Somers as the only remaining regular from the show able and willing to do it). Outside of Match Game-related work, Somers appeared in a cabaret show, An Evening with Brett Somers, from 2003 to 2004.


Somers died on the morning of September 15, 2007, aged 83, of stomach and colon cancer at her home in Westport, Connecticut.

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