Sawyer died peacefully at her Woodland Hills, California home on Sunday, reports Deadline.
Sawyer was born Rosie Cohen on Nov. 27, 1912 to an Orthodox Jewish family, reports the Jewish Journal. She started her entertainment career when she was only 8 years old by winning an Oakland talent contest. At 18, she started working in vaudeville in California.
At 19, she moved to New York, where she continued to perform with a group of friends. A William Morris Agency talent scout saw her, and told her to go solo. She later met legendary singer and actress Sophie Tucker, who became her mentor.
A Hole In The Head was her breakthrough, first on the Broadway stage and then in the Sinatra-starring 1959 film.
Although Sawyer never really stopped performing on the stage, big screen and small screen, she found a new audience in her later years. She built a reputation for playing funny older woman roles in comedies like When Harry Met Sally..., Pineapple Express, Dumb and Dumber and Kiss The Bride.
She also played "Old Lady" roles in episodes of How I Met Your Mother, ER, CSI, The Office and 2 Broke Girls.
“Comics and comediennes make good actors because it’s very hard to do comedy,” she told the Jewish Journal. “It comes out of your gut. It’s the sadness of life: If you don’t laugh all the time … you know what I mean?”
Sawyer's career was featured in the documentaries Showfolk and Troupers. She also published an autobiography called I Never Wanted To Be A Star - And I Wasn't.
Sawyer's last credited appearance was in a 2014 short called Entanglement. She also appeared in two episodes of Showtime's Ray Donovan in 2013 and 2014. She played the "Oldest Woman in the World" in an episode of New Girl and acted in the indie movie Lovesick with Matt LeBlanc.
She is survived by two daughters, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Photo credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images