Alice Nunn

Active - 1971 - 1987  |   Born - Jan 1, 1927   |   Died - Jan 1, 1988   |   Genres - Comedy, Thriller, Horror, Mystery

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Biography by Bruce Eder

Alice Nunn was a character actress who enjoyed a 24-year career on-stage, in movies, and on television. Born in Jacksonville, FL, in 1927, she was bitten by the performing bug early in life; she was in school productions of such works as My Sister Eileen and attended the Wesleyan Conservatory and School of Fine Arts. Nunn later trained at the American Theater Wing and worked in radio as a continuity director before getting her break in New Faces of 1956. A singing comedienne who resembled a young Pert Kelton crossed with Sheila James, Nunn worked on-stage with Shelley Berman and Nancy Walker, and made her screen debut on television in episodes of Petticoat Junction. She later became a regular denizen of '60s sitcoms, playing comically strong-willed, often slightly belligerent women. Fans of 1960s sitcoms may remember her from Camp Runamuck as Mahala May Gruenecker, the head counselor of Camp Divine and the nemesis of series star Arch Johnson's Commander Wivenhoe; she was the perfect foil to Johnson's hulking macho boys camp leader, locking horns with him every week in much the same way that Margaret Rutherford had with Alastair Sim in the movie The Happiest Days of Your Life. Nunn's first feature film was Johnny Got His Gun (1971), in which she was one of the nurses. She was also a regular cast member of the Tony Orlando and Dawn variety show, but many of her film roles were bits, such as "Fat Lady" in Mame (1974) and "Passenger with Dog" in Airport 1975. She occasionally got bigger roles, such as the put-upon servant Helga in Mommie Dearest (1981), and is probably best remembered by 1980s filmgoers and Tim Burton fans for her portrayal of "Large Marge," the lady truck driver who frightens the hero in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985). If Nunn hadn't been so good at comedy, and exploiting the funny side of her imposing girth and presence, she might have been an older rival to Shirley Stoler, but it was not to be -- she died of heart failure in the summer of 1988, at age 60.

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