March 5, 1926
Forest Hills, New York, United States
March 22, 1987
Los Angeles, California, United States
Actor, Model, Nightclub entertainer
While working as a nightclub performer in her native New York City, Joan Shawlee was discovered by comedian Lou Costello of the Abbott and Costello comedy duo. Costello was so impressed by Shawlee that he cast her as an Army lieutenant in the 1947 Abbott and Costello war comedy "Buck Privates Come Home." Shawlee was billed as Joan Fulton in that film and several others, including 1947's "The Vigilantes Return" and "Woman on the Run" in 1950. By the mid-1950s she was credited by her birth name, Joan Shawlee, and started to gain credibility as a wisecracking comedienne, helped in part by her many appearances on TV's "The Abbott and Costello Show." It wasn't until she was cast alongside Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon in 1959's screwball classic "Some Like It Hot," however, that Shawlee's career really began to take off. Shawlee played the tyrannical bandleader Sweet Sue, and quickly earned a fan in the film's director, Billy Wilder. Wilder continued to cast Shawlee in choice supporting roles in several of his later films, including 1960's "The Apartment," 1963's "Irma La Douce," and his last film, 1981's "Buddy Buddy," in which Shawlee played a receptionist.