|Jo Anne Worley|
|Name:||Jo Anne Worley|
|Born:||September 6, 1937|
|Occupation:||actress, comedienne, singer|
|Known for:||starring in the sketch-comedy series Laugh-In|
Worley was born in Lowell, Indiana, the third of three children. In 1937, her father remarried and his second union gave her two half-brothers and two half-sisters.
Always known for her loud voice, Worley once said when she attended in a church as a little girl, she never sang the hymns but would lip-synch them for fear that she would drown out everyone else. Before graduationg from high school, Worley was named "School Comedienne".
After graduating from high school in 1955, Worley moved to Blauvelt, New York, where she began her career as a member of the Pickwick Players. This led to a drama scholarship to Midwestern State University in Witchita Falls, Texas.
After studying at Midwestern for two years, she moved to Los Angeles to study at Los Angeles City College and the Pasadena Playhouse. Worley was soon given her first musical role in a production of Wonderful Town. In 1961, Worley received her first major break when she appeared in the musical revue Billy Blames People in Los Angeles; this production moved to Broadway, where it ran for only six performances. However, the New York Times reviewer wrote: "Jo Anne Worley has an earthy style that suggests she could be a rowdy commedienne." In 1964, Worley was selected to appear as a stand-in on the original Broadway production of Hello, Dolly! One year later, she created her own nightclub act in Greenwich Village, where she was discovered by Merv Griffin in 1966.
Impressed by Worley's talents, Griffin engaged her to be one of his primary guests stars on his show, where she made approximately 40 appearanced on The Merv Griffin Show. In 1966, she appeared in off-broadway in The Mad Show, a musical revue based on Mad Magazine. In 1967, her stint on Griffin's show led to her discovery by George Schlatter, who soon cast her in Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.
In 1970, she left Laugh-In to pursue other projects and has made guests apperances on several television series, including Hot Dog, Love, American Style, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Andy Williams Show, as well as different game shows such as Hollywood Squares and the many versions of Pyramid. She continued working in various movies, television series and theatrical performances (original productions and revivals alike) over the years, and she also became known for her work as a voice provider for several cartoons, animated movies, and video games. Her work includes Nutcracker Fantasy (1979), the Disney movies Beauty and the Beast (1991), A Goofy Movie (1995), Belle's Magic World (1998), and the voice of the wardrobe in the video game Kingdom Hearts II (2005). She remains involved with Disney, making cameo apperances in several Disney Channel sitcoms such as Kim Possible playing the role of Bonnie Rockwaller's mother, Wizard's of Waverly Place and Jessie.
Worley also performs in regional theater, such as Melody Top Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she appeared in Gypsy: A Musical Fable as Rose (1984), Annie Get Your Gun (1982), Hello Dolly! (1980), Anything Goes (1978) and Once Upon a Mattress (1974). She also appeared at the Welk Dinner Theater in San Diego, California in Same Time, Next Year in 1985, Call me Madam at the California Music Theatre, Pasadena, California, in 1987 and Nunsense at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, La Mirada, California, in 1991.
In 1989, Worley returned to Broadway to appear in Prince of Central Park, but the show was canceled after one performance. Worley was cast as the Wicked Witch of the West in a 1999 musical production of The Wizard of Oz, directed and adapted by Robert Johanson, with Mickey Rooney playing the eponymous role. The production had a limited run at the Pantages Theater, Hollywood, California, and at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, and she also joined the limited US tour. Worley played Mrs. Tottendale in the Broadway musical,The Drowsy Chaperone, at the Marquis Theatre from July through December 2007.
From January 9 until August 24, 2008, she played the role of Madame Morrible in the Los Angeles production of Wicked.
Worley continues to perform today at several acting citcuits in New York City and Los Angeles, and she has also been active at times in the lecture circuit. Worley is currently President of and also serves the Board of Directors for Actors and Others for Animals.
Worley married Roger Perry on May 11, 1975. They divorced in 2000 and had no children.