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Imogene Coca 1908-2001

Country : Philadelphia, PA
Profession : Actress
Date of birth : 1908-11-18
Date of death : 2001-06-02
Cause of Death : Alzheimer's

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Imogene Coca

Imogene Fernandez de Coca (November 18, 1908 – June 2, 2001) was an American Emmy-winning comic actress best known for her role opposite Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows.

Early life

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Coca's parents were veterans of the entertainment industry; her father, José Fernandez de Coca, was a well-known violinist and orchestra conductor, and her mother, Sadie Brady, was a dancer and magician's assistant.

Coca took lessons in piano, dance, and voice as a child and while still a teenager moved from Philadelphia to New York City to become a dancer. She got her first job in the chorus of the Broadway musical When You Smile, and became a headliner in Manhattan nightclubs with music arranged by her first husband, Robert Burton. She gained prominence when she began to combine music with comedy; her first critical success was in New Faces of 1934.


In the early days of live television, she played opposite Sid Caesar on The Admiral Broadway Revue (January to June 1949), and then in a sketch comedy program, Your Show of Shows which was immensely popular from 1950 to 1954. She also had her own series, The Imogene Coca Show.

She was nominated for a Tony Award for her final Broadway performance as religious zealot Letitia Primrose in On the Twentieth Century, a stage musical adapted from the 1934 film Twentieth Century. Coca's role – a religious fanatic who plasters decals onto every available surface – was a male in the original film (Played by actor Etienne Girardot in the stage adaptation, the role was rewritten specifically as a vehicle for Coca.)

In the 1963–64 TV season, Coca portrayed a comic temporary helper in the NBC Television sitcom Grindl. It played opposite The Ed Sullivan Show and lasted a season.

Coca starred as a cave woman with Joe E. Ross in the 1966–67 TV time-travel satire sitcom It's About Time. She made memorable guest appearances on the sitcoms Bewitched as "Mary the Tooth Fairy", The Brady Bunch as "Aunt Jenny", and on Mama's Family as Gert in the episode "Gert Rides Again". Her later years were spent in relative solitude with only occasional TV guest appearances on Moonlighting and in small movie roles, including her memorable role as "Aunt Edna" in National Lampoon's Vacation.


On June 2, 2001, Coca died at her home in Westport, Connecticut, of natural causes incidental to Alzheimer's Disease. Coca had no children, but had been married twice; first to Bob Burton from 1934 until his death in 1953 and to King Donovan from 1960 until his death in 1987.



  • Buzzy Wuzzy (1948) (canceled after 4 weeks)
  • The Admiral Broadway Revue (1949-1950)
  • Your Show of Shows (1950-1954)
  • The Imogene Coca Show (1954-1955)
  • Sid Caesar Invites You (1958) (U.S. version)
  • Sid Caesar Invites You (1958) (UK version)
  • Grindl (1963-1964)
  • It's About Time (1966-1967)
  • The Emperor's New Clothes (1972)
  • Freddy the Freeloader's Christmas Dinner (1981)
  • The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies (1981)
  • One Life to Live (cast member from 1983-1984)
  • As the World Turns (cast member in 1983)
  • Alice in Wonderland (1985)
  • Monsters: "The Face" (1989)


  • Bashful Ballerina (1937)
  • Dime a Dance (1937)
  • They Meet Again (1941)
  • Promises! Promises! (1963)
  • Under the Yum Yum Tree (1963)
  • 10 from Your Show of Shows (1973)
  • Rabbit Test (1978)
  • On The Twentieth Century (1978) as Letitia Primrose
  • National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
  • Nothing Lasts Forever (1984)
  • Papa Was a Preacher (1985)
  • Buy & Cell (1989)
  • Hollywood: The Movie (1996)


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