A tribute to her career and legacy

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Who was Brett Somers?

The late Canadian-American actress, singer, and game show panelist Brett Somers was born Audrey Dawn Johnston in Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada on July 11, 1924, meaning Cancer was her zodiac sign. She appeared in 30 TV series and movies before she retired in 1980, but maybe still best remembered for have been a panelist on the comedy game show “The Match Game”, which was also hosted by Gene Rayburn and Johnny Olson, and features two people competing to fill in the missing words of sentences; the show aired from 1973 to 1990 and was nominated for six awards.

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Education and early life

Brett was raised in Portland, Maine, USA, by her parents, whom she rarely spoke of in public because she respected their privacy; since Brett did not talk about having siblings, it is assumed she was an only child.

She became interested in acting upon enrollment at the local high school in Portland; she joined the drama club and began appearing in school plays. Brett enrolled in 1942 and moved to New York City the same year, once she turned 18, to pursue an acting career; it was around this time that she legally changed her name to ‘Brett’.

She did not go to university.

Roles in TV series

Brett worked a number of jobs for 10 years to support herself financially before finally launching her acting career.

She made her TV series debut in a 1952 episode of the drama ‘The Philco Television Playhouse’ while she subsequently appeared in an episode of the crime drama ‘The Mask’, the musical comedy ‘Producers’ Showcase’ and the drama ‘Robert Montgomery presents”.

From 1960 to 1963, she played both Myra Draco and Sarah the popular Western “Have Gun – Will Travel”, created by Herb Meadow and Sam Rolfe, starring Richard Boone, Kam Tong and Hal Needham. The series follows the life of an assassin and won one of the seven awards it was nominated for. Throughout the rest of the ’60s, Brett appeared in one or two episodes of the crime drama “The Defenders,” the crime adventure “The Fugitive,” and the drama “Festival.”

From 1971 to 1973, she played Blanche in the critically acclaimed comedy “The Odd Couple”, created by Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson, and starring Tony Randall, Jack Klugman and Al Molinaro. It follows two completely different men who are forced to live together, and the series won six of its 20 award nominations. Some of Brett’s next roles were in the comedy “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, the crime mystery “The New Perry Mason”, and the crime drama “Caribe”.

Her last TV series appearance was in the 1980 episode “The Great 5K Star Race and Boulder Wrap Party: Part 2” of the crime mystery “CHiPs”.

Roles in movies

Brett’s debut film role was playing Carlotta in the 1965 drama “Bus Riley’s Back in Town”, and in the same year she played Jessie Jay in the drama “A Rage to Live”, directed by Walter Grauman, starring Suzanne Pleshette, Bradford Dillman and Ben Gazara. It follows a woman whose marriage is on the verge of being destroyed by her sexual compulsion, and the film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Costume Design, Black-and-White.

In 1972, Brett played X-Ray Lady in the popular thriller-comedy “Bone,” which Larry Cohen wrote and directed, and starring Yaphet Kotto, Andrew Duggan, and Joyce Van Patten. It follows a criminal who has broken into a wealthy couple’s house and is now helping them work through their marital problems; the film won three awards.

Brett appeared in only three other films before retiring: the drama “The Great American Beauty Contest” and the romantic drama “If I Had a Million”, both in 1973, and the 1980 drama “Getting There”.

Other credits

Brett has appeared in a number of TV specials, including 1979’s “The TV Show”, 2004’s “Magic Moments: The Best of 50’s Pop”, and 2006’s “The Real Match Game Story: Behind the Blanks”.

She appeared on many talk shows while some of her last appearances were on “Maury”, “O2Be” and “Hollywood Squares”.

Love life and marriages

Brett was married twice. Her first husband was American businessman Robert H. Klein, whom she met not long after moving to New York City; the two exchanged vows in 1948, and she gave birth to their daughter Leslie Klein a few years later, but they apparently divorced in the early 1950s. Leslie died of lung cancer in 2003.

She married her second husband, the late American actor Jack Klugman in 1953; Brett gave birth to their first son David Klugman on February 20, 1959, and their second son Adam Klugman followed on July 11, 1963. Brett and Jack divorced in August 1977.

Single at the time of her death, she had been married twice and had a daughter with her first husband Robert H. Klein, as well as two sons with her second husband Jack Klugman.

Interesting facts and hobbies

A year after Brett’s passing, her second husband Jack married his long-term girlfriend Peggy Crosby, a famous American actress and producer.

Rumors circulate on the internet claiming that Brett and Jack separated in 1974 but remained married until her death, but California court records indicate otherwise.

Brett had a “naturally hoarse voice” that led many people to believe she suffered from a throat condition.

She also appeared in a number of stage plays, including “Maybe Tuesday”, “Happy Ending”, and “The Seven Year Itch”.

Brett’s best friends were American actor Gene Rayburn and American actress and screenwriter Fannie Flagg.

Her drink of choice was the cocktail Martini, but Brett eventually had to give it up because she “enjoyed it too much.”

Death and wealth

Brett was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 and died at her home on September 15, 2007, aged 83; her official cause of death was colon and stomach cancer.

Brett’s net worth, at the time of her death was estimated at more than $1.7 million.