Born in Brooklyn, New York, Lainie Kazan made herself famous first as a sexy nightclub singer and later as an acclaimed actress. She has performed in nightclubs, theaters, on television and in films. A graduate of Hofstra University, Kazan frequently returns to New York to visit her mother, who still lives in the apartment where she grew up.
Lainie Kazan gained notoriety as a young singer when she understudied for Barbra Streisand in Broadway's Funny Girl. She performed one matinee and one evening performance, which led to numerous offers including spots on television and variety shows. She performed on The Dean Martin Show a record 26 times and eventually she had her own NBC variety show. Her popularity led to her opening two nightclubs in 1976, Lainie's Room in Los Angeles and Lainie's Room East in New York. In 1980, Kazan began to focus much of her attention on her acting career, performing only occasionally in nightclubs.
Her acting career began when her old college friend Francis Ford Coppola offered her a part in One From the Heart. This led to other roles including a starring role in Lust in the Dust and Disney's The Journey of Natty Gann. It was her portrayal of a Jewish mother in My Favorite Year that gained her a Golden Globe nomination. Her film credits also include Beaches and Harry and the Hendersons. She received an Emmy Award nomination for her appearance in St. Elsewhere and a Cable Ace Award nomination for Paper Chase. Although her television and film credits are numerous, Kazan has also had time to make contributions to the American theater. She has appeared in Plaza Suite, A Little Night Music, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and most recently in Nunsense in Boston.
Aside from her television, film and stage roles, Lainie Kazan still has time to tour the country singing in nightclubs. She performed for two weeks to standing-room-only audiences at the Hollywood Roosevelt Cinegrill, one of many hotspots on her tour. Her support of various charities has only increased her popularity; during the 1996-97 season she received the Woman of the Year award from B'nai Brith in Atlanta, and also performed at the annual AIDS Project Los Angeles gala, where she sang with Sarah Brightman.
As of 1998, Lainie Kazan can be seen on Fox's Beverly Hills 90210 and the film The Cemetery Club with Danny Aiello. She resides in Los Angeles with her daughter and is continually adding films and nightclubs to her list of credits.