Brandis Kemp (February 1, 1944 – July 4, 2020) was an American actress best known for her appearances in Fridays and AfterMASH from the years 1980 to 1985. She then appeared in a wide variety of films and TV shows as a character actress for the remainder of her career.
1 Early life
7 External links
She grew up in Palo Alto, California and attended three colleges: San Jose State College, Stanford University (where she earned a master's degree in drama and literature) and the American Conservatory Theatre. She credits the teachings of John Lehne, Jered Barclay, Ken McMillan, Gerry Hiken, Negal Jacson and Alan Fletcher as her acting influences. She battled dyslexia throughout her school years. After college she spent a year in Hawaii, then to Oregon where she met future Fridays cast member and future husband Mark Blankfield at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She then moved to New York for five years. Her first job in New York was teaching speech to policemen and firemen at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In 1979 she moved to Los Angeles just before Fridays broke.
She has performed in:
Meetin' On The Porch - The Canon Theatre
A Man's A Man - La Jolla Playhouse
Look Homeward, Angel - Pasadena Playhouse
Women Behind Bars - Roxy & Cast Theatre
Bullshot Crummond - Westwood Playhouse, Coronet Theatre and National Tour
El Grande de Coca-Cola - Studio One
Stanford Repertory Theatre - (Two Seasons)
Oregon Shakespeare Festival - (One Season)
Producers of the TV show caught her performances as part of the Low Moan Spectacular comedy troupe in the plays "Bullshot Crummond" and "El Grande de Coca Cola" and selected her as a member of their new ensemble cast. In 1980 she developed strong comedic recurring characters such as the "Creative Palm Reader" as well as adding her talents to comedy sketches on many levels. She became the "go to" female cast member because of her flexibility and strong delivery (much like Laraine Newman on Saturday Night Live). She co-starred with Mark Blankfield (to whom she was married until 1987), Jack Burns, Maryedith Burrell, Melanie Chartoff, Larry David, Rich Hall, Darrow Igus, Bruce Mahler, Michael Richards and John Roarke. The show completed in 1982.
Producers of the TV show caught her six-month performance in the stage comedy "Women Behind Bars" and liked the character she was playing. She was playing an assistant to the prison matron. It was similar to the Alma Cox character they were creating for the TV show. She started the TV show as an occasionally recurring character but after only four episodes she quickly graduated to a regular cast member because of the popularity of Alma Cox. After the first 13 episodes she appeared in every episode. She appeared with David Ackroyd, Rosalind Chao, John Chappell, William Christopher, Patrick Cranshaw, Jamie Farr, Peter Michael Goetz, Harry Morgan, Anne Pitoniak, Jay O. Sanders and Barbara Townsend. The show completed in 1985.
Kemp died at her home in the Los, Feliz section of Los Angeles on July 4, 2020 following a struggle with brain cancer and complications from COVID-19.
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