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The Unsinkable Molly Brown

In The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Tammy Grimes was known for singing “I Ain’t Down Yet,” but on Sunday in Englewood, N.J. she was silenced. At the age of 82 we are left with the memories upheld on Youtube.

Cleavon Little, Lauren Bacall, Tammy Grimes, Fritz Weaver

Photo by AP/REX/Shutterstock
Cleavon Little, Lauren Bacall, Tammy Grimes and Fritz Weaver

Born in Lynn, Mass., on Jan. 30, 1934, Tammy Lee Grimes graduated from Stephens College because of its drama program. Her first job acting was at the Westport Country Playhouse as she studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse. Playwright Anita Loos saw her in a student presentation and chose her for the title role in The Amazing Adele. Though the show closed out-of-town tryouts Ms. Grimes was signed to The Littlest Revue Off Broadway along with Joel Grey. Noel Coward saw her performing at the Manhattan nightclub Downstairs at the Upstairs and cast her as the lead in Look After Lulu. Ms. Grimes also worked at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, where she and her first husband, Christopher Plummer, starred together in Henry IV, Part I. ” Tammy, was a shinning star on Broadway at 26, winning a Tony Award for her performance in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Unknown when cast as Molly, her name was not above the title, which meant because of the Tony regulations at the time she could be nominated only in the featured-actress category. Ms. Grimes went on to star in Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock and in 1964 she appeared in High Spirits,” a musical version of Coward’s Blithe Spirit directed by Coward. Ms. Grimes won a second Tony, for a 1969 revival of Noël Coward’s Private Lives, this time she won a Tony in the best actress category.

 High Spirits, Tammy Grimes

In High Spirits

Moving to Hollywood, Ms. Grimes appeared on several TV shows including the short lived “Tammy Grimes Show.” She went on to make several films, including  “The Last Unicorn” and “Slaves of New York,” but was passed over for the film version of “Molly Brown” for Debbie Reynolds, who had a more traditional Hollywood look and sound. Her last role on film was as Ally Sheedy’s Old World mother in “High Art.”

Tammy Grimes, Christopher Plummer,  Amanda Plumber

Tammy Grimes & Christopher Plummer with their daughter Amanda

she returned to the stage in Neil Simon’s California Suite and Tartuffe ( earning a Tony nom.) and Turgenev’s “A Month in the Country” with also starred her daughter, Amanda Plummer. She even was in the original production of 42nd Street. Her final Broadway appearance was in a revival of Tennessee Williams’s Orpheus Descending starring Vanessa Redgrave and Off Broadway as part of the rotating cast of 24 Evenings of Wit and Wisdom.

Tammy Grimes

She had a terrible-tempered, but her talent was always bluntly worth the reputation.

Tammy Grimes

Ms. Grimes married Jeremy Slate, a television actor divorcing a year later. She was with her third husband, the musician and composer Richard Bell, until his death. Ms. Grimes is survived by her brother, Nick, and her daughter.

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Film

Gary Springer Remembers Shelley Duvall

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By Gary Springer

I loved Shelley Duvall. She very much changed my life and I am forever grateful. I was a young kid in NYC who luckily wound up in two movies – not that I wanted to be an actor – and decided I wanted to be a NY crew guy. Got cast in another film starring Shelley Duvall, Bud Cort, Dennis Christopher and Veronica Cartwright. Thought it was fun I still had the crew aspirations. Shelley became my instant best friend. She said ‘why don’t you come out to LA and stay with Patrick (Reynolds of tobacco fame) and me until you have to go back to school. I did. I spent 7 months living with Patrick and Shelley in a castle in the Hollywood Hills and then another 4 months rooming with Shelley until she called me one day from NY where she was filming “Annie Hall: and said, I think I’m going to sell the house and move in with Paul (Simon). I had to get my own place and spent the next nine years in LA as a working actor (including a television movie which also co-starred the editor of this publication). Shelley was my mentor, my love (platonically), my facilitator, my friend. I met so many people through her and experienced so much that I never would have. Her bringing me to LA for a couple of weeks changed my life completely. I quit acting and moved back to NY in 1982 to work with my dad, but Shelley and I stayed friends. She called me in 1984 and offered me a role in one of her Faerie Tale Theatre pieces (the last professional phone I had). We stayed friends. She moved to Texas and I visited. She had difficulties and I was her friend. I flew down to Texas bringing our friend Dennis Christopher last month to visit her and spoke to her twice last Sunday on her 75th birthday (one wonderful FaceTime). I loved Shelley Duvall and always will.

Shelley Alexis Duvall, inimitable actor, producer, and style icon, died in her sleep July 11, 2024  at her home in Blanco, Texas. She just turned 75 this past Sunday, July 7. Her longtime partner, Dan Gilroy was at her side. She is survived by Dan Gilroy and her three brothers her brothers Scott, Stewart and Shane.

“My dear, sweet, wonderful life, partner, and friend left us last night. Too much suffering lately, now she’s free. Fly away beautiful Shelley,” said Gilroy

She was born in Fort Worth on July 7, 1949, grew up in Houston, and returned to her Texas roots after successful decades in the Hollywood entertainment industry, Shelley was a brilliant and unique film actor and a visionary television producer.

She was first discovered in 1970 when she hosted a party to try and sell some of her husband, Bernard Sampson’s, paintings. Little did she know that crew members from a movie shoot in town were present and were captivated by her. Under the pretense of selling paintings, they brought her to meet the director, Robert Altman, and producer Lou Adler, who were blown away by her wonderfully quirky distinctiveness and cast her in the movie they were filming, “Brewster McCloud” opposite Bud Cort. In Shelley’s words: “I said, ‘don’t you want to buy any paintings?’ And they said: “No, we want you!’”

She continued working with Bob Altman on six more films such as Thieves Like Us, Nashville, Popeye, and Three Women, for which she won the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival. Seeing her in that film inspired Stanley Kubrick to cast her in his film The Shining where Shelley’s harrowing performance is indelibly etched in film lore. Shelley had a one-of-a-kind look and manner—wide-eyed, toothy, skinny and gawky, but with her own beauty and elegance—that endeared her to industry pros and audiences alike. Beyond her striking looks, she was also a serious, dedicated, and admired dramatic and comedic actor. Shelley appeared in many other film and television roles from the 1970s, 80s, and into the 90s.

Behind the camera, Shelley also conceived and created groundbreaking TV fare through her Platypus Productions: she produced, hosted, and sometimes guest-starred in her Faerie Tale Theatre series, which also called upon the talents of her wide circle of notable actors, directors, and film veterans including Robin Williams, Eric Idle, Mick Jagger, Teri Garr, Jean Stapleton, Frank Zappa, Vincent Price, John Lithgow, Pam Dawber, James Earl Jones, Candy Clark, Francis Ford Coppola, Roger Vadim, Tim Burton and so many more who would not usually have worked on a nascent cable channel show.

The Great American Tee Shirt book – with Paris wearing my Dog Day Afternoon shirt, with Dennis Christopher & Bud Cort

Faerie Tale Theatre’s one-hour adaptations of classic stories, followed up by her Tall Tales and Legends series, enchanted children and their elders through most of the 1980s (and live on to enchant in rerun heaven). She continued the streak with Nightmare Classics, Shelley Duvall’s Bedtime Stories, and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, garnering two Emmy nominations for Producer over the years.

Gary Springer and Shelly in Bernice Bobs Her Hair

Shelley, who had been called ‘The Texas Twiggy’ and, from film critic Pauline Kael, “The Female Buster Keaton,” was a frequent host on Saturday Night Live and during those heady late 70s and 80s was also known for dating the likes of Paul Simon and Ringo Starr.

Gary and Shelly on her birthday this year

In the mid-90s, Shelley found herself retreating from Hollywood and retiring from active production; successful though she had been as a star actor and producer. Then, her three-acre home in Studio City, which hosted a menagerie of birds, dogs, and other pets, was heavily damaged in the Northridge earthquake of 1994. Shelley and her partner since 1989, actor and musician Dan Gilroy, moved back to Texas to the small town of Blanco, near Austin, where the couple became a beloved part of the protective community. In recent years, Shelley has reconnected with some old friends and admirers from her Hollywood days while living a peaceful and quiet life in the Texas Hill Country.

Dan Gilroy, her brothers Scott, Stewart and Shane, friends and colleagues, the town of Blanco, and legions of fans mourn the passing of Shelley Duvall.

 

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Obituaries

Saying Good Bye To Dr. Ruth

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“I was left with a feeling that because I was not killed by the Nazis — because I survived — I had an obligation to make a dent in the world,” Dr. Westheimer stated.

Becoming Dr. Ruth was a compelling play that chronicled the remarkable journey of Karola Siegel, who was best known as Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the iconic sex therapist. Dr. Ruth’s escape from the Nazis as a child, her time as a sniper in Jerusalem, and her courageous pursuit of success in America as a single mother, Becoming Dr. Ruth was and is about a triumphant spirit. On July 12, 2024 Dr. Ruth passed on at her home in Manhattan. She was 96.

Sex sells and Ruth Westheimer, a child survivor of the Holocaust who was a sex therapist knew that. At a time when the world didn’t talk about sex Dr Ruth’s frankness led to a long-running radio and television call-in shows. She was the go-to for tips on the art and science of lovemaking.

The sexual revolution that began in the 60’s but the world was still repressed on subjects like erectile dysfunction, masturbation, fantasies and orgasms.

Dr. Ruth was not the typical radio and TV personality, She stood at 4-foot-7, she was bedecked in pearls, and had a recognizable German-inflected voice.

Dr. Westheimer was over 50 when she debuted in 1980 on New York’s WYNY with “Sexually Speaking.” The radio program started out in 15-minute segments and was later syndicated and extended to two hours to accommodate those who were curious. There was also “Good Sex With Dr. Ruth Westheimer,” She was a frequent guest on late-night talk shows.

After surviving the Nazis, she went to Israel, where she joined the Haganah paramilitary group fighting for Jewish statehood (and where, she said, she lost her virginity in a hayloft). After that to France and to New York. As Dr. Westheimer she taught university courses in human sexuality before a producer at WYNY, an NBC affiliate, booked her for quarter-hour segment, first broadcast on Sundays after midnight. Within a year, she was on prime time at 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.

She wasn’t the first on-air therapist, but the most remembered.

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Broadway

Remembering Marilyn Clark Langner

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by Lee Roy Reams

I heard the sad news on Saturday, June 22nd, 2024, that my dear friend, Marilyn Clark Langner, had died in her Central Park West apartment with her family at her bedside. Like the classic column  in the Reader’s Digest Magazine, Marilyn Clark Langner was one of my “Most Unforgettable Characters.”

Growing up in Covington, Kentucky, I always dreamed of a glamorous show business life like the movies I watched on late night TV.  Having lunch with Kitty Carlisle Hart at a beachside restaurant in Barbados, cocktails with Gena Rowlands at Harry’s Bar in Venice, perhaps a late night supper at a rooftop restaurant in Athens celebrating the First Lady Of The American Theatre, Helen Hayes, on her 90th bithday, were just the kind of things I dreamed about. I got all of this and so much  more from Marilyn and Philip Langner during my tenure as artistic director of their trail blazing and truly amazing project called Theatre At Sea.

Theatre Guild

Marilyn was born in Spokane, Wadhington, on September 28, 1924. Even as a child Marilyn was drawn to the theatre.  Marilyn attended UCLA and set her sights on a show business career. She moved to New York City and hit the jackpot when she met and fell in love with Philip Langner, the only child of Lawrence Langner and Armina Marshall, co-administrators of the Theatre Guild and arguably the two most important figures in the history of the American Theatre.

Marilyn played roles in four Broadway plays including The SevenYear Itch and Absurd Person Singular.  A cast mate in The SevenYear Itch named Gena Rowlands became a life long friend. Marilyn played roles in a number of feature films including several films written and directed by John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands’ husband.

Loretta Swit in SHIRLEY VALENTINE had a very succesful national tour winning a Sarah Siddons Award for Ms. Swit in Chicago.

Perhaps Marilyn’s most lasting show business legacy will be the creation of Theatre At Sea. Long before the current Broadway style entertainments on cruise ships including Playbill At Sea, Marilyn and Philip Langner and Armina Marshall paved the way  by creating Theatre At Sea.

Lee Roy Reems and Tammy Grimes

Their casts were made up of legendary stars of both theatre and film including Lillian Gish, Roddy McDowall, Tammy Grimes, Dean Jones, Carol Channing, Cyril Ritchard, Patrice Munsel, Eli Wallach, Loretta Swit, Ed Asner, Donna McKechnie, and many more. On an early cruise on board the SS Rotterdam, a musical evening was created called MUSICAL JUBILEE which transferred after the cruise to a Broadway theatre. An “out of town tryout at sea” of a musical called Ruthless! lead to a tranfer to the Players Theatre in New York City. Ruthless! won the Outer Critics Circle Award that year  for Best Musical.

Ed Asner played the role of FDR. The one man show played first on ship and then around the country.

Stars including Loretta Swit, Ed Asner

Jean Stapleton captured the unique spirit of one of America’s most admired first ladies, Eleanor Roosevelt.

and Jean Stapleton performed plays on ships that went on to successful national tours. Academy Award winner Patricia Neal and Joel Vig created a version of Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory, which played around the country for many years.

Academy Award winner Patricia Neal and Joel Vig played A CHRISTMAS MEMORY on ship and then around the country for decades.

Marilyn Clark Langner will be remembered both as a savvy artistic producer and also as the perfect hostess for these remarkable voyages.   Whether sailing up the Amazon River with a final performance in the legendary Manaus Opera House or a Meditteranean cruise ending with a reception in the Princess Grace Theatre in Monaco hosted by Prince Albert II, Marilyn was always charming and elegant with an air of whimsy and a wonderfully wicked sense of humor. When Marilyn and Philip Langner were honored with.the Gold Medal at the National Arts Club in December of 2010, stars of more than thirty years of unforgettable Theatre At Sea cruises expressed their gratitude for the gift.and honor of being part of the Theatre At Sea legacy.

Marilyn Langner: a Most Unforgettable Character.

Marilyn is survived by her husband, Philip, two daughters Lola and Eve, and two grand daughters Lauren Kennedy and Brielle Kennedy.

 

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Film

Saying Good-Bye to Donald Sutherland

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Donald Sutherland was a Canadian actor. In a film career spanning over seven decades, Sutherland received numerous accolades, including a Primetime Emmy Award, and two Golden Globe Awards. He is cited as one of the best actors never to have received an Academy Award nomination, but received an Academy Honorary Award in 2017.


He attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), Spent a year and a half at the Perth Repertory Theatre in Scotland and began to get small roles in British films and TV. He was featured alongside Christopher Lee in horror films such as Castle of the Living Dead (1964) and Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965). He had a supporting role in the Hammer Films production Die! Die! My Darling! (1965), with Tallulah Bankhead and Stefanie Powers. In 1967 Sutherland appeared in “The Superlative Seven”, an episode of The Avengers. In 1966 he also made a second, and more substantial appearance in The Saint (S5,E14). The episode, “Escape Route”, which was directed by the show’s star, Roger Moore, recalled Sutherland “asked me if he could show it to some producers as he was up for an important role… they came to view a rough cut and he got The Dirty Dozen. which starred Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, and a number of other popular actors, was the 5th highest-grossing film of 1967.  Sutherland left London for Hollywood.

Sutherland rose to fame in such films as The Dirty Dozen(1967), M*A*S*H (1970), Klute(1971), The Eagle Has Landed (1976), 1900 (1976), Animal House (1978), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Ordinary People (1980), Eye of the Needle (1981),  JFK (1991), Six Degrees of Separation (1993), Pride & Prejudice (2005), The Hunger Games franchise and so many more

I met Sutherland in 1981 when he stared as Humbert Humbert briefly in Lolita on Broadway.

Donald Sutherland and Blanche Baker, “Lolita” Bernard Gotfryd photograph collection (Library of Congress)

Television audiences known him for Citizen X (1995) in which he received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. For Uprising (2001), and Path to War (2002) he earned the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film.

Sutherland received various honours including inductions into the Canadian Walk of Fame in 2000 and the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada (OC) in 1978, a Commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2012 and received the Companion of the Order of Canada (CC) in 2019.

He was the father of actors Kiefer Sutherland, Rossif Sutherland, and Angus Sutherland. In October 2023, Canada Post issued a stamp in his honour, commemorating his career as one of Canada’s most respected and versatile actors.

Donald Sutherland was a brilliant actor whose work will be missed.

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Broadway

We Say Good-Bye To Janice Paige

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Janice Paige turned 100 was born on September 16, 2022, and died at her on June 2, 2024, at the age of 101. Paige was an American actress and singer. With a career spanning nearly 60 years, she was one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Born in Tacoma, Washington, Paige began singing in local amateur shows at the age of five. After high school, she moved to Los Angeles, where she became a singer at the Hollywood Canteen during World War II, as well as posing as a pin-up model. This led to a film contract with Warner Bros. She later left the studio to pursue live theatre work, appearing in a number of Broadway shows. She continued to alternate between film and theatre work for much of her career. Beginning in the mid-1950s, she also made numerous television appearances, as well as starring in her own sitcom It’s Always Jan.

Paige began co-starring in low-budget musicals, often paired with Dennis Morgan or Jack Carson. She co-starred in Romance on the High Seas (1948), the film in which Doris Day made her movie debut. Paige later co-starred in adventures and dramas, in which she felt out of place. Following her role in Two Gals and a Guy (1951), she decided to leave Hollywood.

Paige appeared on Broadway in a 1951 comedy-mystery play Remains to Be Seen. She also toured successfully as a cabaret singer. 


Stardom came in 1954 with her role as Babe in the Broadway musical The Pajama Game.  For the screen version, the studio wanted one major movie star to guarantee the film’s success, so John Raitt’s role of Sid was offered to Frank Sinatra, who would have been paired with Paige. When Sinatra declined, the producers offered Paige’s role of Babe to Doris Day, who accepted and was paired with Raitt.

Paige returned to Hollywood in Silk Stockings (1957), which starred Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, the Doris Day/David Niven comedy Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (1960), and as a love-starved married neighbor in Bachelor in Paradise (1961) with Bob Hope. A rare dramatic role was as Marion, an institutionalized prostitute, in The Caretakers (1963).


Paige returned to Broadway in 1963 in the short-lived Here’s Love. In 1968, when after nearly two years Angela Lansbury left the Broadway production of the musical Mame to take the show on a limited U.S. tour, Paige was the star chosen to be the first Broadway replacement.

Paige appeared in touring productions of musicals such as Annie Get Your Gun, Applause, Sweet Charity, Ballroom, Gypsy: A Musical Fable, and Guys and Dolls. In 1984, back on Broadway in a nonmusical play, Alone Together


Paige made her live dramatic TV debut June 27, 1957 in “The Latch Key” on Lux Video Theatre. She appeared as troubadour Hallie Martin in The Fugitive episode “Ballad for a Ghost” (1964). She also had a recurring role as Auntie V, Tom Bradford’s sister, in Eight Is Enough. Paige appeared as a waitress named Denise in both the seventh and ninth seasons of All in the Family. In her first appearance, she has a flirtation with Archie Bunker that threatens to become serious.

Paige appeared on episodes of 87th Precinct; Trapper John, M.D.;Columbo; Night Court; Caroline in the City; and in the 1975 television movie John O’Hara’s Gibbsville (also known as The Turning Point of Jim Malloy). In 1982, she appeared on St. Elsewhere as a female flasher who stalked the hallways of the hospital to “cheer up” the male patients. She also appeared on a season 11 episode of Happy Days, as a roadside diner waitress named Angela who may or may not be Fonzie’s long lost mother; Fonzie has a heartfelt talk with Angela, and it is left up to the viewer to determine if she is his mother or not. In the 1980s and 1990s, she was seen on several soap operas, including Capitol (1987, as Sam Clegg’s first wife, Laureen), General Hospital(1989–1990, as Katharine Delafield’s flashy Aunt Iona, a lady counterfeiter), and Santa Barbara (1990–1993, replacing Dame Judith Anderson as matriarch Minx Lockridge).


Paige was given a star in the Motion Picture section of the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6624 Hollywood Boulevard on February 9, 1960.


In 2017, Paige wrote a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter in which she stated that Alfred Bloomingdale had attempted to rape her when she was 22 years old. She alleges that she was sexually assaulted after being lured into Bloomingdale’s apartment under false pretenses.

Paige was married three times.

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