Actress and comedian Brett Somers, who amused game show fans with her quips on the “Match Game” in the 1970s, died Saturday in Westport, Conn. of stomach and colon cancer. She was 83.
Hosted by Gene Rayburn, “Match Game” was the top game show during much of the 1970s. Contestants would try to match answers to nonsense questions with a panel of celebrities; much of the humor came from the racy quips and putdowns.
Shows from 1973-79, featuring regulars like Somers, Richard Dawson and Charles Nelson Reilly, are still seen on cable TV’s GSN (formerly Game Show Network.)
Somers married actor Jack Klugman, the future star of the television shows “Quincy” and “The Odd Couple,” in 1953. The two separated in 1974, but never divorced.
They made many television appearances as a couple. Somers appeared on several episodes of “The Odd Couple,” playing the ex-wife of Klugman’s character.
In the summer of 2003, she appeared in a one-woman cabaret show, “An Evening with Brett Somers,” which she wrote and co-produced. She continued to perform after being diagnosed with cancer.
She was born Audrey Johnston in New Brunswick, Canada, and grew up in Portland, Maine. She ran away from home at age 17 and headed for New York City, where she settled in Greenwich Village. She changed her first name to Brett after the lead female character in the Ernest Hemingway novel “The Sun Also Rises.”
Her son Adam said she was caustic, irreverent and a self-declared bohemian.
In addition to Adam Klugman, Somers is survived by another son, David, and a daughter, Leslie.