Kane was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of Joy, a jazz singer, teacher, dancer, and pianist, and Michael Kane, an architect who worked for the World Bank. She attended the Cherry Lawn School, a progressive boarding in Darien, Connecticut, until 1965. She attended the Professional Children's School, in New York City, and made her professional theatre debut in a 1966 production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, starring Tammy Grimes.
Kane’s film roles include, Allison Portchnik in Woody Allen's Annie Hall, The Princess Bride and Scrooged with Bill Murray. Other notable feature films include, The Bounty Hunter, The Pacifier, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Love in the Time of Money, Jawbreaker, The Pall Bearer, Addams Family Values, The Lemmon Sisters, The Muppet Movie, Carnal Knowledge, The Last Detail and The World’s Greatest Lover just to name a few… and most notably Kane was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress for her performance in the film Hester Street.
In television circles, Kane is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Simka Dahblitz-Gravas, wife of Latka Gravas (Andy Kaufman), on the television series Taxi. Her portrayal of Simka earned her two Emmy Awards. In addition to her numerous television guest star appearances some of Kane’s series regular turns include the series, All Is Forgiven, American Dreamer and the sitcom, Pearl, costarring Rhea Perlman.
More recent television credits includeThe Year Without a Santa Claus, Monk, a recurring role on Law & Order: SVU as well as Homicide, Ellen, Chicago Hope, Seinfeld and Two and a Half Men. In March 2010, Kane appeared in the TV series Ugly Betty as Justin’s acting teacher. Most recently she was cast in the animated series Bob’s Burgersfor FOX.
She has also appeared on the NY stage on and off-Broadway in The Vagina Monologues, Family Week, Manhattan Theatre Club’s The Debutante Ball, Lincoln Center’s Macbeth and the Tempest. She also starred alongside Shelley Winter’s in The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.
In more recent years, Kane is most notably known in theatrical circles for her portrayal of evil headmistress Madame Morrible in the Broadway musical Wicked. She starred in various productions from 2005 to 2009 including Broadway and Los Angeles. To this day she holds the record for the most performances as Madame Morrible.
Kane’s most recent theatrical credit is her portrayal of the role of Gingy in the off-Broadway hit Love, Loss and What I Wore written by Nora and Delia Ephron. She also starred in the 1990 movie My Blue Heaven which was also written by Nora Ephron.