Connie Anderson, Of Stage and Screen

Jan. 27, 1924 - April 7, 2015
Connie Anderson, Jan. 27, 1924 - April 7, 2015

Connie Jenny Anderson, who performed onstage and on television with Milton Berle, Jackie Gleason, Sid Caesar, Jimmy Durante, Red Skelton, and Ronald Reagan, among many other popular entertainers, died of cardiac arrest on April 7 at Southampton Hospital, her family said. She was 91.

Ms. Anderson, who was a resident of the South Fork since 1958, most recently lived at the senior citizens housing development on the grounds of St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Amagansett.

Born on Jan. 27, 1924, in Louisiana to William Anderson and the former Martha Peterson, Ms. Anderson grew up in Chicago. As a teenager, she won a talent competition, the prize being a contract as a headlining performer at New York’s Copacabana nightclub. From there, “She was always a headliner,” said her daughter, Walda Roseman of Washington, D.C. “She did all the big nightclubs.”

In 1950, Ms. Anderson entered the new medium of television, performing with a who’s who of the era’s biggest stars. She was a regular cast member on Milton Berle’s variety show, her daughter said, and was the only performer he would allow to appear on the program of Jackie Gleason, his competitor. She had her own fan club and appeared with Danny Thomas and Red Buttons, among others.

“She had her own musical comedy act as a headliner,” Ms. Roseman said. “Her show would open when someone like Rudy Vallee’s would close.” In 1954, she launched a successful nightclub of her own, which lasted into the following decade.

After moving to New York, she began to spend summers in Springs in the early 1950s. She continued to perform, her daughter said, and would serve as master of ceremonies for events at Guild Hall in East Hampton.

Ms. Anderson earned a real estate license, opened her own firm, Connie Anderson Realty, and became an entrepreneur. She purchased the Franklin Triangle in East Hampton and brought the first car-rental agency here. Throughout, she remained a strong supporter of the South Fork’s arts communities, as well as of its feline population.

She was a member of the Presbyterian churches in Amagansett and East Hampton, and was known for spreading cheer throughout the town.

In addition to her daughter, one grandson and two great-stepsons survive. Ms. Anderson’s marriage to Wally Wanger, who was the producer of the chorus line that bore his name, ended in divorce. Another marriage ended in annulment.

Ms. Anderson was cremated. A celebration of her life will be held on May 16 at 4 p.m. in the community room at the senior citizens housing at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, the Rev. Steven Howarth officiating.

Her family has suggested memorial contributions to the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, P.O. Box 901, Wainscott 11975 or arfhamptons.org, or Fighting Chance, a free-of-charge cancer counseling and resource center, at P.O. Box 1358, Sag Harbor 11963 or fightingchance.org.