Frances Bay thought being from a small town in Canada made all the difference by giving her perspective on a career that has spanned eight decades.
Born in Manville, Alberta, Frances and her brother, Erving, grew up in tiny Dauphin, Manitoba, where their parents, immigrants from czarist Russia, ran a clothing store. Frances' grade school teacher encouraged her to pursue an acting career, and her first appearances were in school plays, often playing a princess.
Bitten by the acting bug, Bay pursued her acting studies at college in Winnipeg, appearing in radio and stage plays, and was honoured with a Best Actress award in the Dominion Drama Festival. World War II brought a new challenge when she became known as "The Girlfriend to the Canadian Forces" on the CBC Radio show Everybody's Program. Troops credit Bay as the voice that kept their spirits up.
After the war, Bay took a long career hiatus to raise a family with her childhood sweetheart, Chuck Bay, whose job with Cartier took them to New York, Boston and finally, Los Angeles. In New York in the 40's, Frances continued her love affair with acting by studying with stage legend Uta Hagen, although she would not being her film career until 1983, she was 60.
After her small role in Foul Play, she played the first of her grandmother roles in "Little Red Riding Hood," an episode of Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre. She next appeared as the aunt of Kyle MacLachlan's character in David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986). Lynch continued to cast her in important roles, including as the madam in Wild at Heart (1990) and the creepy Mrs. Tremond on the television mystery series Twin Peaks.
Her role as the grandmother of Adam Sandler's title character in Happy Gilmore (1996) may have made Bay one of the most recognized grandmothers in film history. Bay also appeared in off-Brodway stage productions and regional theatre, including Finnegan's Wake, Grease, Genius, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and The Pleasure of His Company. She won two Frama-Logue Awards (for Others and Right of Way) and was nominated for the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for her performance in The Man Who Came to Dinner.
Bay was one of the most versatile and familiar faces in film and episodic television. She appeared in more than 50 films, including The Wedding Planner, Inspector Gadget and Twins. Television viewers have enjoyed her work on Hannah Montana, Charmed, Newhard, Matlock, the Hughleys, The X Files, Murder She Wrote, The Golden Girls, Touched by an Angel, The Commish, and L.A Law, to name but a very few. Bay holds the unique distinction of appearing in the final episodes of three popular television sitcoms: Seinfeld, Who's the Boss? and Happy Days. On Seinfeld, she is best remembered as the peeved lady who bought the bakery's last loaf of marble rye bread, only to have Jerry Seinfeld snatch it out of her hands. She reprised the role in two more episodes as well as the finale.
Frances Bay passed away of pneumonia complications September 15, 2011. She was 92 years old
France Bay has many nicknames: The Girlfriend to the Canadian Forces, Hollywood's Grandma and the Marble Rye Lady.
Her first film appearance was at the age of 60, cast in Foul Play, starring Goldie Hawn.
She admires Gordon Pinsent's performance as Grant Anderson in Away with Her.