US Magazine Article, January 31, 1983
"Ibida," Latka's Simka says with a smile. "I have a sexy yaktaba."
It's said that somewhere out there everyone has a perfect soulmate- the trick
lies in finding him or her. For the producers of Taxi, turning up such a personage
for their incredibly strange Latka (played by the equally weird Andy Kaufman) must
have tougher than finding a cab at rush hour. Nevertheless, most Taxi fans
would agree that the pairing of lummoxy Latka with his birdlike bride Simka is a
match made in video heaven. And, last September, the Television Academy blessed the
union by awarding Carol Kane, who playes Simka, its Emmy for Best Supporting Actress.
It really was a shock and a big thrill," says Kane with Simka's stunning nasality (Kane's voice changes even off camera, with each role she takes on.) "But those fantasy aspects are not what the business is about. It's usually so painful, trying to get work, getting rejected all the time."
A glance at Kane's credits discounts her lament about constant rejection. Even before graduating from New York's Professional Children's School, she had her first professional stage role, in a touring company of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Since then, she's done Shakespear (MacBeth and The Tempest for Joseph Papp) and Broadway (The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds). On screen, she has starred or been featured in When a Stranger Calls, Annie Hall, Dog Day Afternoon, The Last Detail and Hester Street (for which she won an Oscar nomination), an Australian feature Norman Loves Rose, will be released her in February.
Given this role call, it's hard to imagine that a part on a sitcom that occasionally requires her to converswe in a meaningless language ("except for 'ibida,' which always means yes, and 'yaktaba,' which means rear end") could afford her much artistic fulfillment. "Simka has more range than a lot of characters I've played in movies. And she's very outspoken- whatever comes into her head, she spits out." Kane doesn't even take exception to working opposite a performer like Kaufman, whose erratic behavior is legendary.
"I find working with Andy interesting, to tell you the truth. Our priorities are very different. I like to get there early and rehearse as many times as possible, and Andy likes to walk off the street and do it. We have certain opposite needs, so we meet in the middle and arm wrestle. But part of me bites my tongue because I think: Look, this guy's been doing the show for four years, and who am I to come in all of the sudden and change his life?"
While enjoying wedded bliss on camera, Kane says in real life she's no longer married to the idea of marriage. "I think to grow old alone is not so pleasant, but my work is my sustenance and I'm not so willing to kick that over for the sake of company." Her own parents (her mother's a jazz musician, her father, an architect) divorced when she was 13 and attending boarding school in Connectifcut. "I didn't know it, but that's why they sent me away the year before."
Meanwhile, as her parents were shedding their marriage, Kane was shedding a lot of baby fat. "I was a very chubby kid, and when I was 12, I realized I didn't look right so I began to starve myself. I just went on a fast and lost an enormous amount of weight and almost got kicked out of school because I really would not eat. I mean I would not touch food."
Now a slightly anemic-looking 5'-2" and 105 pounds, she says she finds staying slim " a constant battle. I love to eat. If I'm in love, I don't eat as muchm but I'm not currently in love." But Kane will eat no animal flesh, since the age of 14, she's been a vegetarian. "I was very conscious of the war at that time. I was seeing all the innocent people being killed, and it seemed like the same thing in a way- if you could kill an animal, you could kill a person."
Her abstinence extends to her wardrobe. "If I get leather shoes for a part, I'll keep them, but I don't go out and buy them. I'm awfuly tempted, though, because I love pretty shoes, and I tell you, it's awfully hard to find an attractive pair of rubber shoes, you know?"
Simka wuld sympathise.
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