Jane Krakowski was born on October 11, 1968. She is an American actress, comedian, and singer, best known for her starring role as Jenna Maroney in the NBC comedy series “30 Rock” (2006-2013, 2020), for which she received four primetime Emmy Award nominations for outstanding Supporting Actress in a comedy series. Her other notable television roles include Elaine Vassal in the Fox legal comedy-drama series “Ally McBeal” (1997-2002) and Jacqueline White in the Netflix comedy series “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (2015-2020).
The “30 Rock” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” star, 53, returns to her Broadway musical theater roots with the holiday production of “Annie Live!” (December 2, 2021) on NBC. Krakowski will play Lily St. Regis, the sticky-fingered partner of Rooster Hannigan (Tituss Burgess) in the enduring story about the orphan girl (Celina Smith) who opens the heart of billionaire “Daddy” Warbucks (Harry Connick, Jr.).
Krakowski made here feature film debut as cousin Vicki Johnson in the road comedy “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983), which was followed by roles in “The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas “(2000), “Ice Age” (2002), “Alfie” (2004), “Open Season” (2006), “Pixie” (2015) and “The Willoughbys” (2020).
She regularly performs on stage, winning the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in the Broadway revival of Nine (2003), as well as receiving Tony Award nominations for “Grand Hotel” (1989), and “She Loves Me” (2016). She received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance in the West End Revival of Guys and Dolls (2005).
Jane Krakowsi’s Early Life
Krakowski was born and raised in Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey, the daughter of Ed Krakowski, a chemical engineer, and Barbara Benoit, a college theater instructor and producing artistic director for the Women’s Theater Company. She has an older brother. Her father’s family is Polish, and while she speaks very little Polish, where father and grandparents are fluent in the language. She grew up immersed in the local theater scene as a result of her parents’ activities, saying in one interview: “Instead of hiring baby sitters, they brought me along with them.” She took ballet lessons at age four, but later stopped, attended Parsippany High School, and then the Professional Children’s School in New York City and Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
Did You Ever Audition for Annie?
I began very young ink theater. I actually did audition for the original incarnation when it was on Broadway. All these years later I’m getting a chance to be in Annie—just not the way I originally expected. It was one of my favorite musicals when I was growing up. I knew every word.
What is the Appeal of the Duplicitous Lily St. Regis?
As the script is being interpreted this time around, Lily is a con artist equal to Rooster. Together they’re drawn in the bad side through their own fun and passion, and they sing what I think is one of the great songs from Annie, “Easy Street.” Annie is part of NBC’s new musical holiday tradition.
What is One of Your Best Holidays?
Christmas was always a big deal in my Polish house hold. We always waited until morning to open Christmas presents. Now I have a 10-year old son, who is such a negotiator! He worked some way so he could open at least one present from me on Christmas Eve. This is obviously before Santa comes!
My Career – Television
My first major television role was as Theresa Rebecca “T.R.” Kendall in the NBC soap opera Search for Tomorrow for the NBC daytime programming block, which she played from 1984 until the show ended on December 24, 1986. She was nominated for two consecutive daytime Emmy Awards for her role in 1986 and 1987.
From 1997 to 2002, Krakowski played office assistant Elaine Vassel in the Fox comedy-drame series Ally McBeal; her role earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 1999. In 2006, she was cast in the NBC comedy series 30 Rock, where she played Jenna Maroney, a cast member of the fictional late night sketch comedy show TGS with Tracy Jordan.
In 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013 she received nominations for the primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in 30 Rock. In 2015 Krakowski was cast in the Netflix comedy series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as Jacqueline White, for which she received her fifth primetime Emmy Award nomination. Her guest appearances include a 1981 television commercial for the video game Solar Fox; a 1996 guest appearance on Early Edition as Dr. Handleman (season one, episode three; “Baby”); 2003 appearances on Everwood as psychologist Dr. Gretchen Trotit, a love interest for Treat Williams character, Dr. Andrew Brown; and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” as Emma Spewak, ‘A Serial Killer of Elderly Women;’ and a 2013 guest appearance on “The Simpson” episode “The Fabulous Faker Boy” as Zhenya. She guest starred in an episode of Due South, and in multiple episodes of “Modern Family.”
On November 18, 2020 Fox officially announced the series rebot of the 1950s game show “Name That Tune,” with Jane Krakowski as host and former “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson as band leader.
Premiering on January 6, 2021 (accompanying “The Masked Singer” spin-off “The Masked Dancer” on its Wednesday night line up), the series co-exists on Fox’s programming slate with its similar series Beat Shazam. It is co-produced by Eureka, Prestige, and Fox Alternative Entertainment. Krakowksi stated “one of the reasons I wanted to do “Name That Tune” was to perform again in front of a live audience. She also has a supporting role in the Apple TV and musical comedy series “Schmigadoon!” starring Cecily Strong.
Why Did You Choose to Host the Fox Revival of Name That Tune?
Coming from a musical theater family, we used to watch “Name That Tune” all the time in our home and try to out guess each other on who could get it in fewer notes. I liked the idea of doing a show that the whole family can play along with.
Some of Her Films
After her film debut, “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” in 1983, Krakowski appeared in “Fatal Attraction,” “The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas” (Where she played Betty Rubble) “Marci X,” “Alfie,” “Go Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant,” “Dance with Me,” “Stepping Out,” “Pretty Persuasion,” “Kit Kittredge: An American Girl,” and “Mom at Sixteen.”
Krakowsi was originally cast in the horror film, “Sleepaway Camp,” (1983), but dropped out just before filming began, because she felt her character’s death scene with a curling iron was too violent. She appeared in “When Zachary Beaver Came to Town” as a mother who wants to become a singer. In 2004 she starred in Alan Menken’s television movie version of “A Christmas Carol,” featured as the Ghost of Christmas Past. In 2006 she provided the voice of the deer, Giselle in the animated film, “Open Season.”
A trained singer, Krakowski has made numerous appearances on stage. At age 18 she originated the role of Dinah, The Dining Car in the 1987 Broadway production of Starlight Express. She appeared in the 1989 Broadway musical Grand Hotel as the typist and would be film star Flaemmchen, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award. Her solo number, “I want to go to Hollywood,” is included on the original cast recording.
At the 2000 American comedy awards, Krakowski won rave reviews when she performed a sexually charged musical tribute and love letter to Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. In 1995 she played the ditzy flight attendant, April, in the Roundabout Theater Company’s revival of Company. In 1996 she starred alongside Sarah Jessica Parker in the Broadway revival of “Once Upon A Mattress.”
In January 2002, Windham Hill Records released an album that Jim Brickman had recorded, titled Love Songs and Lullabies. This album; featured Krakowski as a vocalist for the song “You,” which became a hit on adult contemporary radio stations.
Brickman and Krakowski recorded an alternate Christmas version of the song. She appeared on the album Broadway Cares: Home for the Holidays, singing the song “Santa Baby.” In 2003 she starred as Carla in the Broadway revival of Nine, for which she won the Tony Award for Best-Featured Actress in a Musical.
Krakowski is known for an anti-gravity stunt during the number “A Call from the Vatican.” She and the director struggled finding a company that would let her do air stunts without a harness: Krakowski came up with the idea of using the method previously portrayed in Broadway Bares. She recalled that the aerial took a long time to arrive, and that second time she did it was on the first performance. In 2002 she starred as Lola in New York City Center’s Production of Damn Yankees alongside Sean Hayes and Cheyenne Jackson. She performed the role of Ilona Ritter in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Broadway revival of Jerry Bock’s and Sheldon Harnick’s She Loves Me. The musical opened on March 17, 2016, at Studio 54.
Krakowski won the 2016 ‘Fred and Adele-Astaire Award’ as outstanding female dancer in a Broadway show, ‘The Outer Critics Circle Award,’ ‘Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical,’ and the ‘Drama Desk Award,’ and Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical.
She was also nominated for the Tony Award for ‘Featured Actress in a Musical.’ Krakowski played Wanda in the music video for the Dixie Chick’s song “Goodbye Earl” in 2000.
Krakowski became engaged to Robert Godley on 2009. They have a son, Bennett Robert Godley, born in April, 2011. The couple separated in 2013 in November. Krakowski had contracted a breakthrough case of COVID-19, despite being vaccinated and was forced to withdraw from NBC’s “Annie Live!” where she was to play Lily St. Regis.
References: 1. Jane Krakowski—Wikipedia 2. Parade Magazine, Sunday, November 28, 2021 3.Personality, Walter Scott. Jane Krakowski