Birthplace: London, England
Carole Shelley (born 16 August 1939) is an English actress. Among her many stage roles are the character of Madame Morrible in the original Broadway cast of the musical Wicked. She won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in The Elephant Man in 1979.
Shelley was born in London, England, the daughter of Deborah (née Bloomstein), a singer, and Curtis Shelley, a composer. Her father was a German Jew and her mother was of Russian Jewish descent. On stage, Shelley made her Broadway debut as Gwendolyn Pigeon in the original 1965 production of The Odd Couple (starring Art Carney and Walter Matthau). She reprised the role for the 1968 film version (with Jack Lemmon replacing Carney), and for (the first part of) the first season of the subsequent television series (starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman). She and Monica Evans, her co-star as her sister Cecily Pigeon, were the only two performers to be in all three of The Odd Couple versions: stage, then movie, then first TV adaptation—and in the same roles.
During the 1970s and 1980s she appeared in several plays, including as Rosalind in As You Like It at the 1972 Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario. She received her first Tony Award nomination in 1975 for her performance as "Jane" in Absurd Person Singular. Shelley won the 1979 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her role as Mrs. Kendal in The Elephant Man, and was nominated for the Tony Award as Featured Actress in a Play in 1987 for her performance in Stepping Out as "Maxine." In 1982 she won an Obie Award for her performance Twelve Dreams. Shelley also began appearing in musicals in the late 1990s, with the revivals of Show Boat as Parthy and Cabaret as Fraulein Schneider in 1999.
In 2003, Shelley created the role of Madame Morrible in the original Broadway cast of the musical Wicked, a role which she later reprised in the show's national touring company in 2005 and in 2006 in the Chicago production.
Shelley played the role of Grandma in the Broadway production of Billy Elliot at the Imperial Theatre, beginning performances in October 2008. She was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical in 2009.
In 2014 Shelley replaced Jane Carr as Miss Shingle in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder.
Her early career included roles in British films such as It's Great to Be Young (1956), Carry On Regardless (1961), No My Darling Daughter (1961), The Cool Mikado (1962) and Carry On Cabby (1963). Then in 1968, Shelley starred as Gwendolyn Pigeon in the film The Odd Couple. Since then she has had numerous roles in television and films such as The Boston Strangler (1968), Some Kind of a Nut (1969), The Whoopee Boys (1986), Little Noises (1992), The Road to Wellville (1994), and she played Helen Moskowitz in the 17 December 1998 episode of Frasier entitled Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz.
She lent her voice to several roles in Disney animated films; notably, Amelia Gabble (the Goose) in The Aristocats (1970), Lady Kluck, Maid Marian's sidekick and lady-in-waiting, in Robin Hood (1973), and Lachesis the Fate in Hercules. Shelley's "sister" co-star in all three versions of The Odd Couple, Monica Evans (as Cecily Pigeon), also played her "goose" sister in The Aristocats, Abigail Gabble, and Maid Marian in Robin Hood clearly as a take-off and a nod to their Pigeon Sisters roles.