Canova, Judy (1916–1983)

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Canova, Judy (1916–1983)

American comedian and singer. Born Juliet Canova on November 20, 1916, in Jacksonville, Florida; died of cancer on August 5, 1983, in Hollywood, California; married twice; children: two daughters, Diana Canova (b. June 1, 1953, a television actress) and Juliette Canova.

Selected films:

In Caliente (1935); Thrill of a Lifetime (1937); Artists and Models (1937); Scatterbrain (1940); Puddin' Head (1941); Sis Hopkins (1941); Sleepytime Gal (1942); Joan of the Ozarks (1942); Chatterbox (1943); Louisiana Hayride (1944); Hit the Hay (1945); Singin' in the Corn (1946); Honeychile (1951); WAC from Walla Walla (1952); Oklahoma Annie (1952); Untamed Heiress (1954); Carolina Cannonball (1955); The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960); Cannonball (1976).

Known for her hillbilly antics and an earsplitting yodel, comedian Judy Canova was part of a family vaudeville team before landing a part on Broadway in Flo Ziegfeld's Calling All Stars, in 1934. Her break came the following year when Hollywood director Busby Berkeley gave her a small part in the movie In Caliente, starring Wini Shaw , a popular singer of the day. In one of the film's lush production numbers, a nightclub scene, Shaw sang "The Lady in Red." Just as the scene ended, Canova appeared, clad in a red dress resembling Shaw's, and offered her own fractured rendition of the same song. Reviewers loved it, and Canova went on to perform similar humorous bits in major films like Thrill of a Lifetime (1937) and Artists and Models (1937). Her popularity was such that during the 1940s she made a string of "programmers" (low-budget, full-length films that played the lower half of double bills), including Scatterbrain (1940), Puddin' Head (1941), Singin' in the Corn (1946), Honeychile (1951), WAC from Walla Walla (1952), and Untamed Heiress (1954).

From the war years into the 1950s, Canova also starred in a successful weekly half-hour radio show featuring her sidekick Pedro, whose expression "Pardon me for talking in your face, Señorita" became a popular phrase. In 1957, Canova formed her own television production company, but aside from a few guest appearances on the "Huckleberry Finn Show" in the late 1950s, she was seldom seen again. In 1960, she made her first appearance in a dramatic television role on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." In 1976, she returned briefly to the screen in Cannonball.

Canova, who had actually been trained as a classical singer, was said to be nothing like her screen persona, often disappointing her fans with her sophisticated and subdued manner. She married twice and had two daughters, Juliette Canova and actress Diana Canova . Judy Canova spent her later years living in the San Fernando Valley with her second husband, a real-estate broker.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts