Several generations recall Peggy Cass as a perennial panelist on TV game and quiz shows, most notably "To Tell the Truth", yet Cass, with her scratchy voice, Boston accent and strawberry blonde hair, was also an accomplished stage actress. Her most notable stage role was Agnes Gooch in the Broadway production of "Auntie Mame", a role she recreated in the 1958 film version starring Rosalind Russell.
Cass began her career touring Australia with a production of "The Doughgirls", performing for natives and American servicemen during the closing days of World War II. Returning to New York, she made her Broadway debut as Maisie, the comic performer in "Burlesque" (1948), and continued to appear in comedies, revues, and even played in Shakespeare before her big break as the mousy secretary made over by her employer in "Auntie Mame" (1956-58). Cass earned a 1957 Best Supporting Actress Tony Award and an Oscar nod for the film version. She has continued to appear in stage productions throughout the country into the 90s. Cass is also remembered for originating the role of Marion Hollander, the tourist wife, in Woody Allen's "Don't Drink the Water" (1967) and for her work as the prostitute Mollie Malloy in the 1969 Lincoln Center revival of "The Front Page". In the 80s, she played religious women in the tours of "Agnes of God" and "Nunsense".
Cass' film career has been more sporadic. She made her debut in a small role in "The Marrying Kind" (1952). Despite her success in "Auntie Mame", few film roles followed. It was three years before Cass was next in front of the cameras in "Gidget Goes Hawaiian" (1961), and then not again until 1967 as an American tourist in "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium".
"Auntie Mame" did bring Cass a career on TV. She was one of Jack Paar's stable of comedy players during his run as host of "The Tonight Show" from 1958-62, a period in which she also carved a niche as a regular panelist or participating regular on numerous game and quiz shows. In particular, she is best remembered for "To Tell the Truth," on which Cass appeared from 1964-67, then in daytime versions during the 70s, and the short-lived syndicated version in 1980. She also did one season on the sitcom "The Hathaways" (ABC, 1961-62), as the "mother" of three chimpanzees, and for a short time in the 70s was a regular on the NBC soap opera "The Doctors". After a hiatus on TV during much of the 80s, Cass was a regular in the Fox comedy series "Women in Prison" (1987-88), provided a key voice on the PBS children's series "Long Ago and Far Away" (1989-93) and co-starred in the NBC miniseries "Danielle Steel's 'Zoya'" (1995).