Connie Sawyer, a veteran of vaudeville who was a pioneering female stand-up comedian (billed as a "girl comic") before settling into a relatively late-blooming career as a TV and film actress, died Sunday at 105.
Until her peaceful death at home in Woodland Hills, California, she had been the oldest actor known to still be working, doing so through 2017.
Sawyer was born November 27, 1912, in Pueblo, Colorado. After moving to California, she won a talent competition at age 8. Inspired to be a performer by Fanny Brice (1891-1951), she was mentored by legendarily brassy comic singer and actor Sophie Tucker (1887-1966).
"I was lucky. I always had a mentor. Somebody always wanted to help me," she would recall in a 2011 interview.
She appeared on TV in the late 1940s alongside Milton Berle (1908-2002) and Jackie Gleason (1916-1987), her first credited role arriving with 1953's Armstrong Circle Theatre.
Sawyer made her Broadway debut in A Hole in the Head (1957). She recreated the part in the film of the same title 1959) opposite Frank Sinatra (1915-1998).
Over the years, Sawyer worked steadily in TV in particular, making numerous guest-starring appearance on classic series like The Donna Reed Show (1961), Dr. Kildare (1962), Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1965), The Andy Griffith Show (1968), All in the Family (1971), Good Times (1974), Kojak (1974 & 1977), Mary Tyler Moore (1975), Seinfeld (1997) and more others. She appeared, off and on, as one of the title character's co-workers on Roseanne (1988-1990), but was uncredited.
Her final work in the medium was on Ray Donovan (2013 & 2014).
Movie-wise, a spotlight role in Dumb and Dumber (1994) as the old lady who steals Jim Carrey's (b. 1962) wallet was a late-in-life boost. The memorable scene let to a similar appearances in Pineapple Express (2008), for which she may be best known.
Her memoir was the wryly titled I Never Wanted to Be a Star — and I Wasn't (2017).
Sawyer is survived by two daughters; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.