|Intro||Canadian-born American comedic actress and radio and television writer|
|Was||Actor Screenwriter Television actor Film actor Voice actor|
|Field||Film, TV, Stage & Radio|
|Birth||5 August 1920, Quebec, Canada|
|Death||13 May 1985, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA (aged 64 years)|
Selma Diamond (August 5, 1920 – May 13, 1985) was a Canadian-born American comedic actress and radio and television writer, known for her high-range, her raspy voice, and her portrayal of Selma Hacker on the first two seasons of the NBC television comedy series Night Court.
Life and career
Diamond was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1920 to a tailor and his wife, but moved at a young age to Brooklyn, New York City. She graduated from New York University and published cartoons and humour essays in The New Yorker before moving to the West Coast, hiring an agent, and finding work in radio and, eventually, television. Her first radio writing credit was in 1943 on Blue Ribbon Town with Groucho Marx, the Camel Caravan with Jimmy Durante and Garry Moore, The Drene Show with Rudy Vallee, Duffy's Tavern, and The Kenny Baker Show. In 1950, she became one of the staffers hired by legendary comedy writer Goodman Ace (who'd previously hired her for some work on Danny Kaye's short-lived 1940s' radio show) for The Big Show (1950–52), the ninety-minute weekly program hosted by actress Tallulah Bankhead. Considered one of the last great variety shows of the classic old time radio era, this Sunday night comedy marathon featured some of the biggest entertainers of the era.
She moved on to television as one of the writers for Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca's groundbreaking Your Show of Shows. Diamond was reputed to have been the inspiration for the Sally Rogers character on The Dick Van Dyke Show, which centered on the head writer for a fictitious, mercurial television comedian. While writing for another Caesar vehicle, Caesar's Hour, Diamond earned an Emmy nomination. She also worked for Goodman Ace once again, writing for Perry Como's successful Kraft Music Hall television series.
Diamond wasn't always taken seriously by her writing peers. Bob Schiller, who had also written for Duffy's Tavern and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, told author Jordan R. Young (for The Laugh Crafters), "The jury is still out on whether Selma was a comedy writer. She was really a very interesting character—salty, and she was—exactly what you saw on camera is what she was."
In 1960, she released a comedy album based around her humorous conversational style called Selma Diamond Talks...and Talks and Talks and Talks... (Carleton LPX 5001, 1960).
In 1970, she wrote the book Nose Jobs for Peace, published by Prentice-Hall (ISBN 0136238270 ISBN 9780136238270)
By the 1960s and 1970s, Diamond was familiar as a frequent guest on The Jack Paar Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and she made numerous film appearances, including Stanley Kramer's comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (as the unseen telephone voice of Spencer Tracy's wife, Ginger Culpepper), Bang the Drum Slowly (as hotel switchboard operator Tootsie), and All of Me (as Margo). In 1982, she appeared in My Favorite Year with a memorable small role as wardrobe mistress for King Kaiser's Comedy Calvalcade, a fictional show which clearly echoed the time and venue of her work for Sid Caesar. She was also a semi-regular for four seasons of the Ted Knight comedy series Too Close For Comfort.
For many years, Diamond resided in a co-op apartment at 60 Sutton Place South in Manhattan until she moved out in the late 1970s. The diminutive Diamond, who was a chain smoker, was one of the original cast members of Night Court until she was stricken with lung cancer and died at age 64 in Los Angeles. She was buried in Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, Los Angeles County, California. By tragic coincidence, her successor playing the bailiff, Florence Halop, also succumbed to lung cancer after her one year in the cast of Night Court.
|1963||It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World||Ginger Culpeper||Voice|
|1973||Bang The Drum Slowly||Tootsie|
|1982||My Favorite Year||Lil|
|1983||Lovesick||Harriet Singer, M.D.|
|Twilight Zone: The Movie||Mrs. Weinstein||Segment: "Kick the Can"|
|1984||All of Me||Margo|
|1963||Jackie Gleason: American Scene Magazine||American Scene Magazine Reporter||Episode: "#1.17"|
|1972||Arnie||Selma||Episode: "Wilson Tastes Like a Good Candidate Should"|
|McMillan & Wife||Gas Station Attendant||Episode: "An Elementary Case of Murder"|
|Magic Carpet||Mrs. Vogel||Television Film|
|1977||The Edge of Night||Mrs. Yoast||Unknown Episodes|
|1978||Flying High||Woman in beauty salon||Episode: "Swan Song for an Ugly Duckling|
|1980 - 1984||Too Close for Comfort||Mildred Rafkin||08 Episodes|
|1983||Archie Bunker's Place||Mrs. Isaacson||Episode: "Three Women"|
|The Other Woman||Aunt Jeanette||Television Film|
|Nine to Five||Selma||Episode: "The Phantom"|
|Trapper John, M.D.||Martha||Episode: "What a Difference a Day Makes"|
|1984||The Ratings Game||Francine's Mother||Television Film|
|1984 - 1985||Night Court||Bailiff Selma Hacker / Selma Hacker||36 Episodes|
|1985||The Jetsons||Di Di||Episode: "Elroy in Wonderland" (voice)|