Well, it seems as if the veterans of Match Game are going all at once. Charles Nelson Reilly died recently. Now actress Brett Somers is gone. She passed on September 15 at the age of 83 from stomach and colon cancer.
She was born Audrey Johnston in New Brunswick. She was raised near Portland, Maine. At the age of seventeen she left for New York City to become an actress. While appearing in various plays, she also appeared on various anthology series on television, such as Producer's Showcase, Robert Montgomery Presents, and Kraft Television Theatre. She would also guest star on such series as Have Gun Will Travel, The Defenders, The Fugitive, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Although a stage actress, Somers had only one Broadway credit to her name. The 1958 play Maybe Tuesday became a running joke for her--it closed after only five performances. Despite this, she had an extensive career in theatre, appearing in such plays as The Country Girl, Happy Ending, and The Seven Year Itch.
Brett Somers married Jack Klugman in 1953. It would be through Klugman that she gained much of her fame. She appeared in Jack Klugman's sitcom The Odd Couple as Oscar's ex-wife Blanche (Oscar was played by Klugman). It was during the first week of Match Game '73 that he recommended Somers as part of the game show's panel. Somers proved to be one of the three mainstays of the show, alongside Charles Nelson Reilly and Richard Dawson. Equipped with a razor sharp wit a keen sense of humour, Somers more than held her own with the boys on the panel.
As I've said before, I watched Match Game loyally as a child, and I always thought Brett Somers was hilarious. Alongside Charles Nelson Reilly, she was easily the best thing about the show. She was a gifted comedian who could come up with the funniest lines off the top of her head. It is very sad to think she is gone.