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Randee Heller

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Randee Heller

Television actress

Randee Heller Randee Heller Picture 2 The 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards

June 10, 1947 (age 76) (
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.

TV shows
Second Chance, Mama Malone, Husbands, Wives & Lovers, Better Days

Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series

The Karate Kid, The Karate Kid - Part III, Monster‑in‑Law, Changes, The Last Fling

Similar People
Martin Kove, William Zabka, Pat Morita, Ralph Macchio, John G Avildsen

Interview with randee heller on ida blankenship alice and soap slides

Randy M. "Randee" Heller (born June 10, 1947) is an American television and film actress. Her most notable roles were in the film The Karate Kid and one of its sequels, The Karate Kid Part III, as Daniel Larusso's mother, and on the 1970s serial sitcom Soap as Jodie Dallas's roommate Alice, one of the first recurring lesbian characters in television history. She also had a starring role as Carol in the 1979 made-for-TV movie, Can You Hear the Laughter? The Story of Freddie Prinze. More recently she was seen in a recurring role on the series Mad Men as Bert Cooper and Don Draper's elderly secretary Ida Blankenship and on TV show Wilfred as Ryan's neighbor Margot.


Randee Heller RANDEE HELLER in quotFast Breakquot Original Vintage PORTRAIT 197

Randee Heller: Performers Nominees Reception (2011)

Early life and career

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Heller was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in West Hempstead, on Long Island. Her mother was raised in Brooklyn and her grandparents were from Russia. She began her career in musicals on Broadway in such shows as Grease, where she played Rizzo, and Godspell. She moved from New York to California in 1978. Her groundbreaking role as Alice on the TV series Soap received mixed reviews. The criticism at the time was not for her acting but for the stereotyping of her character. The role played into a television tradition of making lesbian characters psychologically troubled. The Boston Herald said that the characterization shows how "the networks have generally depicted lesbians either as suicidal losers or sexual predators." For example, it identifies Alice as "TV's first recurring lesbian character," noting that she "first tries to throw herself off a bridge, then falls for Jodie (Billy Crystal), a confused gay man, and finally runs off.".

Randee Heller Randee Heller

Ahead of filming, producers ordered Heller's newly-permed hair straightened because she said the network insisted on normalizing her character. Of a later episode in which Alice introduces her girlfriend, Heller said, "I went to kiss her in rehearsals and they said, 'No no no … you can’t do that.' I said, 'But she’s my girlfriend!' 'No, no no no, we can’t do that, we just cannot do that.' So it was so careful, it was so delicate in those days that you couldn’t really do your thing. … They wanted me to be a heterosexual homosexual." Heller would appear as a lesbian character again in a 2010 episode of Grey's Anatomy "Almost Grown," playing the partner of a female patient with a brain tumor.

Film career

Randee Heller Randee Heller Zimbio

After leaving Soap, the actress went on to create the role of Lucille LaRusso in the Karate Kid series, appearing in the first and third installments. Her characterization generally received praise from critics, with reviewer Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune naming her absence from the second film as one of its greatest flaws: "Heller`s honest portrayal of a single parent trying to raise an adolescent was one of the genuine pleasures of the original film." Co-star Ralph Macchio agreed, stating in one interview with Siskel,

I argued for her [inclusion]. Those scenes with her were some of my favorites in the original – they had some real emotion – and I honestly don't know why she isn't there. I haven't seen the sequel, but (when the film focuses) just on Miyagi, well, he's a great character, but after a while he can become sort of a walking fortune cookie with all of his sayings.

In addition to the Karate Kid series, other films in which she appeared include Fast Break (1979), And Your Name Is Jonah (1979), Bulworth (1998), Monster-in-Law (2005), and Crazylove (2005).

Television guest appearances

Heller has made guest appearances in the television series"Murder She Write", Less Than Perfect, Mad Men, Nip/Tuck, Judging Amy, Felicity, the children's series Drake & Josh, Night Court, Fame, and The White Shadow, among many others. She had leading roles in three short-lived sitcoms, Second Chance (1987), "Better Days (TV series)," and Mama Malone (1984). Her TV-movie appearances include And Your Name is Jonah (1979). In 2000, Heller performed with Barbra Streisand in her concert Timeless, which was broadcast over American television.

Heller had a recurring role in the fourth season (2010) of AMC's Mad Men as Don Draper's secretary, Miss Blankenship. The character generated a large fan following, including a popular Facebook page. For this role she received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. Also, Randee was a regular on the one-season program Husbands, Wives & Lovers (1978).

Stage career

Heller has also maintained a stage career, appearing in such productions as Bermuda Avenue Triangle, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, and Cabaret. Her role in Cabaret was particularly well received, with one reviewer remarking that

she proved in her first five minutes that she knows how to develop a character, command a stage and deliver a song. Heller made a role that seems peripheral in some productions into a central part of the story. When her engagement to her Jewish beau, Herr Schultz, is called off, it symbolizes many of the small human tragedies brought about by Nazi hate.

She also played the role of Barbra Streisand's mother in the stage performances of Streisand's Timeless concerts in 2000. Randee also had a guest appearance on an episode of ALF, where she plays a kleptomaniac mother of one of Brian's friends. Randee was also the voice that says "Hey Rock, you're a bum" in the first Rocky movie.




Television film

  • Husbands and Wives ... as Rita Bell (1977)
  • ...And Your Name is Jonah ... as Connie (1979)
  • Can You Hear the Laughter? The Story of Freddie Prinze ... as Carol (1979)
  • Obsessed with a Married Woman ... as Rita (1985)
  • The Last Fling ... as Mimi (1987)
  • Changes ... as Carol Kellerman (1991)
  • Short film

  • Coma ... as Doug's Mother (2009)
  • Haunted with a View ... unknown / unnamed role (2011)
  • Selected theatre credits

  • Grease ... as Betty Rizzo (replacement) (February 14, 1972 – April 13, 1980)
  • Hurry Harry ... as Helena / writer / Native No. 4 / Not-So-Grand Lama / Gypsy (October 12, 1972 – October 13, 1972)
  • References

    Randee Heller Wikipedia

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