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New Book Explores the Life and Music of Madeline Kahn

Singer and actress Madeline Kahn is often remembered for her roles in Blazing Saddles, Paper Moon and in the Mel Brooks classic, Young Frankenstein. To this day, the late Kahn is thought of as both a comedic genius and something of a pioneer.

But 15 years after her death, new generations of film, musical theater and comedy enthusiasts are still discovering and learning from her work. 

"It's a measure of her gift...of her legacy that you don't have to have grown up on her to take delight in what she did," says biographer William V. Madison.

Kahn's complex life and work is the subject of a new authorized biography called Madeline Kahn: Being the Music, A Life.  Author William Madison spent seven years diligently working on this book.

"I talked to something around 120 people for the book, and I found in most cases that people were speaking to me out of their love for Madeline," says Madison. "In terms of the family, I had the extraordinary good fortune to come across heirs who were eager for me to ask anything. There were no holds barred. So in general, my aim was not to screw it up. That these people really loved Madeline and really cared about Madeline, and I didn't want to ruin that."

Below are two of the many Madeline Kahn songs discussed in the interview:

The "Echo Song" duet with Groover on Sesame Street

"Das Chicago Song"

More about what William Madison learned about Kahn while writing the book:

The extended interview with William V. Madison about the new biography "Madeline Kahn: Being the Music, A Life."

Audrey Nowakowski hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2014.