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Public memorial service held for Kaye Ballard

Dozens gathered at a public memorial service for iconic entertainer and Coachella Valley resident Kaye Ballard Wednesday afternoon.

The service was held at Sacred Heart Church and began at 3:00 p.m.

A boisterous comedian and singer as well as an actress, Ballard appeared in Broadway musicals and nightclubs from New York to Las Vegas.

“She made me feel special, she made me feel smart, and most importantly, she made me believe that a woman could do anything, because she did,” said Marianne Virgili, Ballard’s niece.

Virgili tells News Channel 3’s Lauren Coronado, Ballard was passionate about her work and especially enjoyed her time on Broadway.

“My parents got to see lots of Broadway musicals. She (Ballard) would get them tickets. It was so special to see her perform and see her at nightclubs on the stage. She was incredible,” said Virgili.

Ballard’s career spaned more than seven decades. A close friend and colleague, Michael Dante, calls Balard a legend in the entertainment industry.

“She was so wonderful and so talented and gracious and humble, just beautiful and gave so much to our industry,” Dante explained.

Ballard was also a mentor to some people.

“She was always very encouraging, giving me songs and advice and um, we’ll miss her,” said close friend of Ballard, Bradley James.

Monsignor Howard Lincoln says she spent her last days in peace and in good spirits. He gave Ballard her last rights two days before her passing.

“I anointed her according to what our church teaches and she even said, ‘I want to take you to New Jersey’, so I don’t know if Kaye was with it then, but she was not afraid and that’s what’s important,” said Monsignor Howard Lincoln of Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

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During her heyday, she was an in-demand guest on network variety shows. She was also a favorite of talk show hosts, making frequent appearances on shows hosted by people like Johnny Carson, Jack Parr, and Merv Griffin

She starred with Eve Arden in the 1960s sitcom “The Mothers-In-Law.” The series marked a high point in a career that began when Ballard was 12 and lasted into the 21st century.

A documentary on Ballard’s life and career premiered at the Palm Springs International Film Festival last week.

Ballard had been fighting kidney cancer, a friend confirmed to the Associated Press.

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