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Elizabeth Ashley

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Also Known As: Elizabeth Cole Died:
Born: August 30, 1939 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Ocala, Florida, USA Profession: actor, author, model

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A gifted, spirited Broadway lead of the early 1960s ("Take Her She's Mine" 1961, "Barefoot in the Park" 1963), Elizabeth Ashley has also proven popular on talk shows where she has become a quick-talking raconteur with the edge of someone fraught, wrought and distraught.Ashley spent more than two decades as a Broadway star before becoming known to TV audiences playing the eccentric Aunt Frieda on "Evening Shade" (CBS, 1990-94). While still a teen-ager when she made her Broadway debut in 1959 in "The Highest Tree", she was a mere 22 when she won a Tony for "Take Her, She's Mine". A nervous breakdown, about which she later wrote in her book, "Postcards From the Road" (1978), almost derailed her career, but she bounced back, starring on Broadway as the idealistic young bride to Robert Redford's slightly stuffy groom in Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park" and has since gone on to shine as Maggie in the 1974 revival of Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", the chain-smoking psychiatrist in "Agnes of God" and in revivals of "The Skin of Our Teeth" and "Caesar and Cleopatra". In 1995, she returned once again to Broadway (and Williams) portraying Violet Venable in "Suddenly Last Summer".Ashley made her...

A gifted, spirited Broadway lead of the early 1960s ("Take Her She's Mine" 1961, "Barefoot in the Park" 1963), Elizabeth Ashley has also proven popular on talk shows where she has become a quick-talking raconteur with the edge of someone fraught, wrought and distraught.

Ashley spent more than two decades as a Broadway star before becoming known to TV audiences playing the eccentric Aunt Frieda on "Evening Shade" (CBS, 1990-94). While still a teen-ager when she made her Broadway debut in 1959 in "The Highest Tree", she was a mere 22 when she won a Tony for "Take Her, She's Mine". A nervous breakdown, about which she later wrote in her book, "Postcards From the Road" (1978), almost derailed her career, but she bounced back, starring on Broadway as the idealistic young bride to Robert Redford's slightly stuffy groom in Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park" and has since gone on to shine as Maggie in the 1974 revival of Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", the chain-smoking psychiatrist in "Agnes of God" and in revivals of "The Skin of Our Teeth" and "Caesar and Cleopatra". In 1995, she returned once again to Broadway (and Williams) portraying Violet Venable in "Suddenly Last Summer".

Ashley made her screen debut in "The Carpetbaggers" (1964), as the second of the women George Peppard loves and leaves on his way up the ladder. (They subsequently married after meeting on the film). In "Ship of Fools" (1965), she was a young married woman taking guidance from Vivien Leigh. Subsequent roles have been sporadic and decidedly supporting, including "The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday" (1976), "Paternity" (1981), and even "Dragnet" (1987).

Ashley first appeared on TV in a 1960 episode of "The Dupont Show of the Month" and appeared in numerous episodics during the decade, as well as doing celebrity player turns on such game shows as "Password". She even guest hosted NBC's "Saturday Night Live" in 1982. Ashley made her TV-movie debut "Harpy" (CBS, 1971) and has occasionally participated in the genre. She also appeared on the NBC soap opera "Another World" for a short period in 1990, but her most extensive TV work was the four seasons she was a member of the ensemble of "Evening Shade", alongside her "Paternity" co-star Burt Reynolds. In 1996, she was cast as the eccentric romantic novelist with whom Brooke Shield must contend on the NBC sitcom pilot "Suddenly Susan". It was later announced, however, that the show would be completely overhauled and taken in a new direction, and Ashley's character was dropped.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Cake Eaters (2007)
2.
 Labor Pains (1999)
3.
 Just the Ticket (1998) Mrs, Paliski
4.
 Happiness (1995) Diane Freed
5.
7.
 Love and Curses... And All That Jazz (1991) Aunt Emmalina
8.
 Blue Bayou (1990) Lolly Fontenot
9.
 Blues For Buder (1989) Althea Campbell
10.
 Man of Passion, A (1989) Gloria
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1959:
Off-Broadway debut (as Elizabeth Cole) in "Dirty Hands"
1959:
Broadway debut (as Elizabeth Cole), "The Highest Tree"
1960:
Made TV debut in "Dupont Show of the Month"
1961:
Became Broadway star in "Take Her, She's Mine"; won Tony Award
1964:
Film acting debut in "The Carpetbaggers"
1965:
Temporarily retired from acting
1971:
Returned to films in "Marriage of a Young Stockbroker"
1971:
Made TV-movie debut in "Harpy" (CBS)
1972:
Co-starred in the TV thriller "When Michael Calls" (ABC)
1974:
Acted in "Rancho Deluxe", directed by Thomas McGuane
1974:
Starred as Maggie in revival of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" on Broadway
1977:
Starred opposite Richard Crenna in the NBC movie "The War Between the Tates"
1978:
Cast opposite Joel Fabiani in "Tom & Joanne" (CBS)
1981:
Had supporting role in "Paternity", starring Burt Reynolds
1983:
Portrayed a former lover of Peter O'Toole's titular "Svengali" (CBS)
1986:
Acted in the loose remake of "Stagecoach" (CBS)
1987:
Played the police commissioner in the film version of "Dragnet"
1989:
Last major film for almost a decade "Vampire's Kiss"
1989:
Acted in "Blues for Buder", a segment of ABC's "B.L. Stryker" starring Reynolds
1990:
Had role as Emma Frame Ordway on the NBC daytime serial "Another World"
:
Cast as part of the ensemble of the CBS sitcom "Evening Shade", starring Burt Reynolds
1995:
Returned to Broadway in revival of "Suddenly Last Summer"
:
Played recurring role of the mother of Richard Karinsky (Malcolm Gets) on the NBC sitcom "Caroline and the City"
1998:
Resumed film career in the role of a divorcee chasing after the unhappily married Ben Gazzara in "Happiness", directed by Todd Solondz
:
Had recurring role on the NBC drama series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" as the mother of detective Olivia Benson
2000:
Co-starred in the stage revival of Gore Vidal's "The Best Man"
2001:
Portrayed Amanda Wingfield in the Hartford Stage revival of "The Glass Menagerie"; reprised role with slightly different cast at Houston's Alley Theatre
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences: Los Angeles , California - 1957 - 1958
The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre: New York , New York - 1959 - 1961

Notes

Appointed to the President's first National Council on the Arts (1965-69).

On "Evening Shade": "I liked the series. Working with Charles Durning and Ossie Davis and such. We'd all been in the theatre so long, we'd done our Moliere, our Shakespeare. But when I'm in Los Angeles, I just tell myself I'm on location--a really long location." --Elizabeth Ashley in Daily News, October 10, 1995.

"I know most American girls grow up wanting to be movie stars. I grew up wanting to be 'a lady of the stage', whatever that was. But that's what I wanted to be. I'm not a guy so I can't become a wide receiver for the Raiders, but I like team sports. Competition frightens me. I like knowing what someone wants from me." --Ashley in Daily News, October 10, 1995.

"And then there's the theatre gossip, and I don't know who they're talking about. I'm a journeyman. I don't go out. I go to work. I don't go to restaurants. I've never understood the lure of voluntarily going out. In the night. Voluntarily submitting to imprisonment at a small table on an upright chair, and either the other people are too loud or else you are." --Elizabeth Ashley in The New York Times, October 8, 1995.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Richard Mathews. First husband; divorced.
husband:
James Farentino. Actor. Married on September 4, 1962; divorced in 1966.
husband:
George Peppard. Actor. Married on April 18, 1966; divorced in 1972; father of Ashley's son Christopher.
husband:
James Michael McCarthy. Married in 1975; divorced.
companion:
Tom McGuane. Novelist, screenwriter.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Arthur Kingman Cole.
mother:
Lucille Cole.
son:
Christopher Moore Peppard. Born in 1968; co-directed and co-wrote first short film "Rex Justice" (1991); graduated from NYU film school.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Postcards from the Road"

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