Singer-actress Lainie Kazan, who broke into professional theater while still a student at Hofstra University under classmate and director Francis Ford Coppola, reportedly was arrested for shoplifting on Christmas Eve.
TMZ.com said on Sunday, Kazan, 77, was at a location of the Gelson’s upscale supermarket chain in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley around 4 p.m., and packed groceries worth approximately $180 into reusable bags before exiting the store without paying. On her way to her car, a store representative stopped her and notified police.
Kazan, whose many screen credits include playing matriarch Maria Portokalos in the two “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” films and its TV spinoff, “My Big Fat Greek Life,” was cited at a local police station and released without bail, TMZ said.
Her spokesman did not respond to a Newsday request for comment.
Brooklyn native Kazan, born Lainie Levine, Hofstra class of 1960, was Coppola’s leading lady in stage musicals written and directed by the iconic future filmmaker. She earned a coveted membership in the union Actors Equity even before graduation, after being hired to perform in “South Pacific” and “The Student Prince” at the Westbury Music Fair, now the NYCB Theatre at Westbury. The understudy to Barbra Streisand in the mid-1960s Broadway musical “Funny Girl,” Kazan famously filled-in for the star for a single day, on a Wednesday matinee and then an evening performance.
Kazan, who has appeared in five Broadway shows, received a 1993 Tony Award nomination for best featured actress in a musical for “My Favorite Year.” Before this, the singer-actress was nominated for a 1988 Emmy Award for a guest role in an episode of the medical drama “St. Elsewhere.”
Kazan is upcoming opposite Burt Young and others in the Long Island-based horror film “The Amityville Murders: A Haunting on Long Island.”