Comedic Actress Brett Somers Passes
Match Game Wit Was 83
Westport, CN — Brett Somers, the actress and comedian who was a favorite of game show fans for her arch banter with co-panelist Charles Nelson Reilly on the 1970s quiz program Match Game, died on Saturday at her home in Westport, Connecticut. She was 83.
Somers, who was 83, passed away due to complications from stomach and colon cancer.
On the irreverent, innuendo-filled Match Game, hosted by Gene Rayburn, contestants would try to match answers to nonsense questions with a panel of celebrities, who offered racy ripostes.
Episodes from the show’s 1973-’79 run, featuring regulars like Somers, Reilly and Richard Dawson, still air on the cable network GSN.
Born Audrey Johnston on July 11, 1924, in New Brunswick, Canada, Somers grew up in Portland, Maine. At age 17 she ran away from home bound for New York City’s bohemian Greenwich Village.
She changed her first name to Brett after Lady Brett Ashley, the staunchly independent lead female character in Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel The Sun Also Rises. Somers was her mother’s maiden name.
In 1953 Somers married actor Jack Klugman, who would go on to star in the television series The Odd Couple and Quincy. They separated in 1974, but never divorced.
In the 1970s she appeared in several episodes of the ABC sitcom The Odd Couple as Blanche Somers-Madison, the ex-wife of Klugman’s character, guy’s-guy sportswriter Oscar Madison.
Somers also appeared in episodes of such series as Naked City, Ben Casey, The Defenders, The Fugitive, Love, American Style, Barney Miller and The Love Boat.
In the summer of 2003, Somers appeared in An Evening with Brett Somers, a one-woman cabaret show she wrote and co-produced. She continued to perform after being diagnosed with cancer.
She is survived by two sons, Adam Klugman and David Klugman and a daughter, Leslie.