Connie Sawyer

Connie Sawyer, Late-Blooming Comic Actress, Dies at 105

She opened for Sophie Tucker, played a drunk opposite Frank Sinatra and earned a legion of new fans as James Franco’s grandmother in ‘Pineapple Express.’

Connie Sawyer wiith Russell Brand
Connie Sawyer with actor Russell Brand in 2012 on the eve of her 100th birthday.

Connie Sawyer, who appeared alongside everyone from Sophie Tucker to Frank Sinatra to James Franco in a late-blooming career that saw her continue to work until recently, has died. She was 105.

Sawyer, who played Franco’s grandmother in Pineapple Express (2008) and was the little old lady who robs Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber (1994), died over the weekend at the Motion Picture & Television Country House in Woodland Hills, a spokesperson for the retirement home told The Hollywood Reporter.

As she was approaching 50, Sawyer landed her first movie role as the drunk Miss Wexler in the Frank Capra comedy A Hole in the Head (1959), appearing opposite Sinatra and Edward G. Robinson. She had made a splash in the earlier Broadway production, and Sinatra insisted she be in the film as well.

The genial Sawyer also played the wife of one of the documentary couples interviewed in Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally … (1989), but she wanted the hilarious role of the woman in the delicatessen who says, “I’ll have what she’s having” after Meg Ryan’s fake orgasm.

“I’m reading the script and I come to the place where the girl is in the restaurant and she’s having an orgasm,” she recalled. “I ran up to [Reiner] and said, ‘I want to do the show-stopping line!’ He said, ‘My mother did it.’”

awyer’s memorable performance in the R-rated stoner comedy Pineapple Express — “I don’t want to say what I think of that movie,” she had said — garnered her plenty of younger fans. “The kids love it! It’s a classic! I get a lot of fan mail from kids. James Franco was adorable. It was fun to do. [Franco has] done so many films now. I got his picture at my door. He’s a big star. Very sweet,” she said.

Survivors include her daughters Lisa and Julie and grandchildren Hannah, Sam, Emily and Carrie. She was married for about a decade to international film distributor Marshall Schacker (who later was married to German actress Ursula Thiess, in turn the former wife of actor Robert Taylor).

Sawyer, who also appeared in the 2014 short film Showfolk, had no complaints about never hitting it big in Hollywood.