Carol Bruce (November 15, 1919 â" October 9, 2007) was an American band singer, Broadway star, and film and television actress. She was born Shirley Levy in Great Neck, New York to Beatrice and Harry Levy.
She began her career as a singer in the late 1930s with Larry Clinton and his band. A graduate of Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, New York, she made her Broadway debut in Louisiana Purchase," with songs by Irving Berlin who discovered her at a nightclub in Newark, New Jersey. She was the first actress to play the role of Julie in a Broadway production of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's Show Boat since the 1932 Broadway revival. Bruce played the role onstage in 1946 and garnered favorable comparisons to Helen Morgan, who had originated the role onstage in 1927 and repeated it in both the 1932 revival and the 1936 film. After a long career as a singer and in films, Bruce is probably best-remembered for her recurring role as the domineering and meddlesome "Mama Carlson" (mother of the station manager played by Gordon Jump) on CBS' WKRP in Cincinnati. Sylvia Sidney played Mr. Carlson's mother in the Pilot episode.
Her only marriage (to Milton Nathanson, which ended in divorce) produced a daughter, Julie, an actress, singer and playwright who married jazz guitarist Larry Coryell. Bruce's grandchildren, Murali and Julian Coryell, are both musicians.
Carol Bruce died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, aged 87. She was also survived by her sister and two great-grandsons.
- "Carol Bruce, 87; singer, actress had role in 'WKRP in Cincinnati'." Los Angeles Times. October 14, 2007.
- Peterson, Alison J. "Carol Bruce, Actress on Film, Stage and TV, Dies at 87." New York Times. October 16, 2007.
- Carol Bruce at the Internet Movie Database
- Carol Bruce at the Internet Broadway Database
- Carol Bruce at AllMovie
- Carol Bruce at Find a Grave