Actress Judy Balaban dies at 91

October 22, 2023

Actress Judy Balaban has died at the age of 91. 

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Cari Beauchamp - one of Balaban's friends - told the outlet that Balaband died on Thursday night in a hospital in Los Angeles, California.

At the time of this writing, the cause of Balaban's passing has not been reported.

Some outlets are reporting that Balaban died following a brief illness. While this is likely to be true, it has not been confirmed.

Who was Balaban?

From Chicago, Illinois, Balaban was the daughter of Barney Balaban, who would become the president of Paramount in 1936, four years after his daughter was born. Judy Balaban was also the sister of Red Balaban, a well-known jazz musician, and the half-sister of Burt Balaban, a film producer.

When her father became the president of Paramount, Balaban's family moved to New York. And, after attending high school in Washington, D.C., Balaban would return to New York and begin to work in the fashion industry.

Balaban would marry three times in her life, to actor Montgomery Clift, to talent agent Jay Kanter, and to actor Tony Franciosa.

If you are familiar with Balaban, then there is a good chance that it has something to do with her association to actress Grace Kelly. Balaban met Kelly through Kanter, who was Kelly's talent agent.

Balaban would end up being one of Kelly's bridesmaids at the wedding ceremony in which Kelly married Rainier III, the Prince of Monaco.

Balaban and Kelly

Balaban would go on to write a book, titled, The Bridesmaids: Grace Kelly and Six Intimate Friends. 

The book's billing, in part, states:

The author, one of the actress's  "six intimate friends'' who served as her bridesmaids, writes vividly of all their lives and of the media event of 1956, the film star's wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco. The book is exhaustively detailed and opinionated, criticizing the husbands of these privileged women as chauvinists responsible for their failed marriages. Quine [aka Balaban] tells as well about her own infidelity to Kanter and to her second husband, Anthony Franciosa . . . Contrasting with the disclosures of the uncharmed lives of the bridesmaids are accounts that reinforce one's memory of the princess as a loyal wife, mother, friend and worker for her adopted country until her death in 1982.

The book was published in 1989, which was more than three decades after Kelly's wedding.

Outside of Hollywood, Balaban was, among other things, an advocate for civil rights. She was on the board of directors for Southern California's American Civil Liberties Union for several decades.

Balban is survived by her daughters Amy, whom she had with Kanter, and Nina, whom she had with Franciosa.

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