Elaine Joyce is an American actor. Her career mostly consists of films and TV productions. Elaine began her career with a number of uncredited roles, in films such as 'West Side Story,' 'The Music Man,' 'Bye Bye Birdie,' and 'Funny Girl,' all of which were musicals. She made her TV debut a few years before appearing in her first significant film role. Later in her career, Elaine focused more on her TV career. In addition to her TV and film projects, Elaine has a few stage credits to her name, of which the musical 'Sugar,' a musical adaptation of the film ‘Some Like It Hot,’ is a notable mention, as it earned her a 'Theatre World Award.' Her role in the play is the reprised version of the character played by Marilyn Monroe in the film. Elaine has been married thrice and has two children from her first and second marriages.
Childhood & Early Life
Elaine was born Elaine Joyce Pinchot, on December 19, 1943, in Cleveland, Ohio. She is of Hungarian descent. She grew up with her brother Frank Pinchot.
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Elaine stepped into the entertainment business as an “extra” in films. She made her debut with the 1961 romantic musical tragedy 'West Side Story,' as ‘Hotsie,’ the girlfriend of the character named ‘Tiger,’ played by David Bean. After this, Elaine appeared as an “extra” in a few more musical films, such as 'The Music Man' (1962), 'Bye Bye Birdie' (1963), and 'Funny Girl' (1968). Elaine made her TV debut as herself in a 1965 episode of the 'CBS' variety show 'The Danny Kaye Show.' From 1967 to 1969, Elaine was seen in various roles (four episodes) of the 'NBC' (later 'CBS') variety series 'The Red Skelton Show.'
Two of Elaine’s first credited roles were those of ‘Marian’ in the comedy–drama movie 'Such Good Friends' and ‘Ema Letha Kusic’ in the 'Universal' comedy 'How to Frame a Figg,' both of which released in 1971. The following year, she made her ‘Broadway’ debut with the musical 'Sugar.' Elaine essayed the titular role of a ukulele player and singer named ‘Sugar Kane’ in this musical adaptation of the 1959 romantic comedy 'Some Like It Hot.' The original film featured Marilyn Monroe as ‘Sugar Kane.’ Elaine received a 'Theatre World Award' (1972) for her outstanding performance in ‘Sugar.’
In 1976, Elaine was seen as ‘Marsha Finch’ in the 'NBC' series 'City of Angels.' She made her debut as a host in the first season of the 'ABC' series 'The All New Dating Game.' She hosted one episode of the series that was aired in 1986. At that point in her career, Elaine had more TV projects than films. She appeared in a number of series, such as ‘Mr. Merlin,' 'Beverly Hills, 90210,' 'Melrose Place,' 'Magnum, P.I.,' 'Simon & Simon,' 'Too Close For Comfort,' and 'Murder, She Wrote.' Meanwhile, she was also seen as ‘Edith Olsen’ in the 1980 horror–comedy film 'Motel Hell' and as ‘Angie Weinbauer’ (on-screen mother of actor Marc Price, who played ‘Eddie Weinbauer’) in the 1986 supernatural horror 'Trick or Treat.'
Continuing with her stage performances, Elaine appeared at the 'Alhambra Dinner Theatre' in Jacksonville, Florida, in May 1982. She was seen with Wayne Rogers in Robert Thomas's play 'Catch Me, If You Can,' staged at the 'Cape Playhouse' in Dennis, Massachusetts. In 1993, she appeared in the brief recurring role (three episodes) of ‘Paula Hammond’ in the 'NBC' daytime soap opera 'Days of Our Lives' and made a guest appearance (as ‘Suzanne’) in the 'CBS' series 'The Young and the Restless.'
Elaine has also regularly appeared on several game shows, as either a host or a panelist. Some of her most noteworthy game shows are 'Match Game,' 'Super Password,' 'Password Plus' 'Tattletales,' 'What's My Line?,' and 'I've Got a Secret.' She has made guest appearances in series such as 'Love, American Style' (1974), 'The Andy Griffith Show,' 'The Carol Burnett Show,' 'Kojak,' 'Charlie's Angels,' 'Green Acres,' 'Hawaii Five-O,' and 'The Feather and Father Gang.'
Family & Personal Life
Joyce was married to veteran stage actor Bobby Van. They got married in 1968 and remained together until Bobby's death in 1980. The two shared screen space in a few game shows, such as 'Tattletales' and 'Match Game.'
Elaine’s marriage had seen tumultuous days. In October 1967, an announcement stated the two were married. However, they were not. In November the same year, 'The El Dorado Times' stated that Bobby had initially planned to marry on December 2, 1967, but since Elaine’s brother, too, had chosen the same date for his marriage, they had postponed theirs. In February 1968, they announced they would marry on March 21 that year. Bobby and Elaine finally got married in Las Vegas on May 1, 1968.
Just after a week, Bobby filed for an annulment, citing "fraud” as the reason. He stated that Elaine had persuaded him to marry her by telling him that she wanted children and that Elaine’s claim was a lie. He also revealed that their marriage was not a happy one and that Elaine had attempted to run away. Nevertheless, their divorce was never finalized, and they remained legally married. They had a daughter named Taylor.
After Bobby’s death from brain cancer in 1980, Elaine married TV producer John Levoff in 1985. They divorced in 1992. She has a son named Michael from her marriage to John. She then married playwright Neil Simon in 1999. Before the wedding, Elaine came to know about Neil’s failing health without actually knowing the reason. She even suggested postponing the wedding. They later married more than a month ahead of the planned date. The private ceremony took place at a friend’s yard.
Elaine chose a gray 'Dolce & Gabbana' wedding dress and wore her five-carat ruby engagement ring. Neil died on August 26, 2018, due to renal failure worsened by pneumonia.
Elaine once revealed that in 1982, while performing at the 'Alhambra Dinner Theatre,' she had met and briefly dated famous author JD Salinger. He had once attended one of Elaine’s shows only to meet her and go on a date with her. Even before this, the two had exchanged phone calls and letters for months.