There’s something deeply heartwarming about the idea that Adam Sandler, David Lynch, Henry Winkler, and Monty Hall, to name a few, would write personal letters to whoever’s in charge of Canada’s Walk of Fame recommending literally anyone for the honour, especially if they’re all writing about the same person. And then ten thousand Canadians signed a petition in support of her placing on it as well. What’s more, Henry Winkler—who lost his own grandparents in the Holocaust before he was born—adopted her as his unofficial grandmother on the set of Happy Days. I love encountering stories like that about people.
In her youth, Frances Bay worked for the CBC. She hosted something called Everybody’s Program, for Canadian servicemen overseas. She acted professionally in Winnipeg, presumably on the stage. In 1946, she got married, and I frankly assume that’s when she stopped acting. Her only son died at the age of 23, and a few years later, she started acting again. This time in TV and the movies. This time, she started a steady career that lasted until her death in 2011.
Not Canadian, either; while she did an episode of Road to Avonlea, she never appeared on Due South or The Littlest Hobo or even anything DeGrassi. Her first TV role was on an episode of Kojak. Her second TV role was on the episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show with Johnny Carson, playing a maid. She didn’t have the completely typical TV career—no Love Boat, for one thing—but she hit quite a lot of the highlights, including being one of the people who was on both E/R and ER. She’s also probably the only person to appear on both ALF and The X-Files, and if she isn’t, she’s certainly on a short list.
But The X-Files has a lot in common with some of her other acting. She was on a large number of cult shows. She was of course Mrs. Tremond on Twin Peaks. She was on Quantum Leap once. The Ben Stiller Show. Tales from the Crypt. Alien Nation. St. Elsewhere. Perhaps The Golden Girls was not a surprise, but she played Mrs. Claus on Amazing Stories once. As far as movies go, again, the list of people who have been in multiple Adam Sandler movies and multiple David Lynch movies has got to be a short one, if indeed it is longer than one at all.
In fact, an impressive amount of her acting was done after she lost part of a leg in a car accident. While in her 80s. She still did such random things after that as an episode of Hannah Montana and the pilot of that “why is this a thing?” sitcom about the Geico cavemen. (As I recall, not even the writers’ strike could keep that from being cancelled.) From what I can tell, Frances Bay was a sweet old lady with a strong connection to Alberta’s Jewish community who really liked acting. You’d have to, to take some of the roles she did.