Maureen Stapleton


Actor
Maureen Stapleton

About

Also Known As
Lois Maureen Stapleton
Birth Place
Troy, New York, USA
Born
June 21, 1925
Died
March 13, 2006
Cause of Death
Chronic Pulmonary Disease

Biography

Maureen Stapleton has become a star of stage, screen and television in a career that has spanned some forty years and is noted for her strong, earthy portrayals of women that have earned her critical praise and accolades.The Troy, New York native dropped out of college at age 18 and moved to NYC to pursue an acting career. After studying with Herbert Berghof and at the Actors Studio, Sta...

Family & Companions

Max Allentuck
Husband
Producer. Married July 22, 1949; divorced in February 1959; born c. 1911; died on October 22, 1995.
David Rayfiel
Husband
Screenwriter; playwright. Married in July 1963; divorced c. 1966.
George Abbott
Companion
Producer; director; writer. Together c. 1968-78; born in 1887; died in 1995.

Bibliography

"A Hell of a Life"
Maureen Stapleton and Jane Scovell, Simon & Schuster (1995)

Notes

"She says her friend Marilyn Monroe couldn't get taken seriously as an actress because of her beauty; Stapleton had a different problem. 'People looked at me onstage and said, Jesus, that broad better be able to act.'"--From PEOPLE, October 23, 1995

She received the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award in 1969.

Biography

Maureen Stapleton has become a star of stage, screen and television in a career that has spanned some forty years and is noted for her strong, earthy portrayals of women that have earned her critical praise and accolades.

The Troy, New York native dropped out of college at age 18 and moved to NYC to pursue an acting career. After studying with Herbert Berghof and at the Actors Studio, Stapleton made her Broadway debut in the 1946 revival of Sean O'Casey's "The Playboy of the Western World." Within five years, she delivered a star-making performance as the blowzy Serafina delle Rose in Tennessee Williams' "The Rose Tattoo" (1951), which earned her a Featured Actress Tony Award. Throughout her career, Stapleton was predominantly known as a stage actress. Among her other memorable roles were Lady in "Orpheus Descending" (1957) and Amanda Wingfield in "The Glass Menagerie" (1965 and 1975), both by Williams. She had two triumphs in plays by Neil Simon: playing three roles in "Plaza Suite" (1968) and the title role in "The Gingerbread Lady" (1970). For her role as an alcoholic singer in the latter, she earned a Best Actress Tony Award. Her last stage role to date was in support of Elizabeth Taylor (in her stage debut) in the 1981 revival of Lillian Hellman's "The Little Foxes."

Stapleton made her feature debut in "Lonelyhearts" (1958) as a frustrated woman who seduces Montgomery Clift's callow journalist earning an Oscar nod as Best Supporting Actress. She subsequently gave effective and wide-ranging performances, typically as frowzy, unkempt woman in films including Sidney Lumet's "The Fugitive Kind" (1960), "Airport" (1970), which earned her a second Oscar nomination as the worried wife of saboteur Van Heflin, and "Plaza Suite" (1971), recreating one of her stage roles. In Woody Allen's somber, Bergmanesque "Interiors" (1978), Stapleton injected liveliness and warmth as Pearl, a slightly coarse widow romanced by E.G. Marshall to the horror of his daughters. Her performance won her citations as Best Supporting Actress from both the New York and Los Angeles Film Critics and earned her a third Academy Award nomination. In 1981, she was Lauren Bacall's tart-tongued secretary Belle Goldman in "The Fan" and a less revolutionary, more maternal Emma Goldman in Warren Beatty's "Reds," which finally earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Other memorable roles include as Wilford Brimley's wife in "Cocoon" (1985) and its disappointing 1988 sequel, as Barbra Streisand's mother, in denial over her daughter's past, in Martin Ritt's "Nuts" (1987) and as a flirtatious neighbor of Armin Mueller-Stahl in Bob Balaban's "The Last Good Time" (1994).

On TV, Stapleton appeared frequently in the 1950s in episodes of "Studio One," "Kraft Playhouse" and "Playhouse 90." She received an Emmy for "Among the Paths to Eden" (ABC, 1967) and won acclaim in the title role (opposite Charles Durning) of "The Queen of the Stardust Ballroom" (CBS, 1974). Stapleton co-starred as Big Mama with Laurence Olivier and Natalie Wood in Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (NBC, 1976), was the abandoned wife of Ed Asner in the award-winning "The Gathering" (ABC, 1977), played the Nurse to Gloria Vanderbilt in "Little Gloria . . . Happy at Last" (NBC, 1982), was the overbearing mother of Victor Garber's pianist in "Liberace: The Man Behind the Music" (CBS, 1988) and was the terminally ill mother of journalist Betty Rollin (Patty Duke) in "Last Wish" (ABC, 1992). Stapleton's distinctive voice has been used in several documentaries including "Lincoln" (ABC, 1992) and "P.T. Barnum: America's Greatest Showman" (Discovery Channel, 1995).

In 1995, she co-authored her memoirs, A Hell of a Life, which detailed a chaotic life and career that included two failed marriages, many affairs and years of alcohol abuse. As the years passed, the public saw less of Stapleton on screen. From the mid-1990s on through the new millennium, she appeared in only two features, playing the thankless role of a guidance counselor in the indie-produced "Wilbur Falls" (1997), then grandmother to a jealous woman (Meg Ryan) who cannot get over losing her French restaurateur boyfriend (Tcheky Karyo) in the insipid romantic comedy "Addicted to Love" (1997). Then as she grew older, her notorious phobias-fears of opening nights, flying and elevators-forced her into retirement and seclusion. Stapleton spent her waning years in Lenox, Massachusetts with friends and family, while accepting retrospective honors and fundraising for various causes. On March 13, 2006, she succumbed to chronic pulmonary disease. She was 80.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Wilbur Falls (1997)
Guidance Counselor
Addicted to Love (1997)
The Last Good Time (1994)
Ida Cutler
Trading Mom (1994)
Last Wish (1992)
Passed Away (1992)
Mary Scanlan
Miss Rose White (1992)
Auntie Sue (1989)
Liberace: Behind the Music (1988)
Doin' Time on Planet Earth (1988)
Cocoon: the Return (1988)
Hello Actors Studio (1987)
Herself
Made In Heaven (1987)
Sweet Lorraine (1987)
Lillian
Nuts (1987)
Heartburn (1986)
The Money Pit (1986)
The Cosmic Eye (1985)
Voice
Private Sessions (1985)
Dr Liz Bolger
Cocoon (1985)
America and Lewis Hine (1984)
Voice Of Margaret Byington
Johnny Dangerously (1984)
Family Secrets (1984)
Maggie Lukauer
Sentimental Journey (1984)
Montgomery Clift (1983)
Herself
Reds (1981)
On the Right Track (1981)
The Fan (1981)
Arthur Miller on Home Ground (1979)
Herself
The Runner Stumbles (1979)
Letters From Frank (1979)
Betty Miller
Lost And Found (1979)
Jemmy
The Gathering, Part II (1979)
Interiors (1978)
The Gathering (1977)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1976)
Big Mama
Queen of the Stardust Ballroom (1975)
Bea Asher
Tell Me Where It Hurts (1974)
Summer of '42 (1971)
Voice of Hermie's mother
Plaza Suite (1971)
Karen Nash
Airport (1970)
Inez Guerrero
Trilogy (1969)
Mary O'Meaghan
Bye Bye Birdie (1963)
Mama Peterson
A View From the Bridge (1962)
Beatrice Carbone
The Fugitive Kind (1960)
Vee Talbott
Lonelyhearts (1958)
Fay Doyle
Main Street to Broadway (1953)
First nighter

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Hello Actors Studio (1987)
Other
Montgomery Clift (1983)
Other
Arthur Miller on Home Ground (1979)
Other

Cast (Special)

The Lives of Lillian Hellman (1999)
P.T. Barnum: America's Greatest Showman (1995)
Voice
Tennessee Williams: Orpheus of the American Stage (1994)
Street Scenes: New York on Film (1992)
Lincoln (1992)
Voice
One Man in His Time: A Tribute to Laurence Olivier (1990)
When We Were Young... Growing Up on the Silver Screen (1989)
Natalie Wood (1987)
The 40th Annual Tony Awards (1986)
Performer
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1985)
Performer
There's Always Room (1977)
Mirror, Mirror, Off the Wall (1969)
Ruthie Maxwell
Old Knickerbocker Music Hall (1948)
The Times Square Story (1948)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Little Gloria, Happy At Last (1982)

Life Events

1943

Moved to New York and worked as model and waitress while attending classes at Herbert Berghof Studios

1945

First TV appearance, "H.R. 8438: The Story of a Lost Boy" on "Armstrong Circle Theater" (NBC)

1946

Broadway debut in "Playboy of the Western World"

1951

First starring role on Broadway in Tennessee Williams' "The Rose Tattoo"

1952

TV debut as panelist on series, "What Happened?"

1955

Appeared in off-Broadway production of Williams' play "Twenty-Seven Wagons Full of Cotton"

1957

Played Lady Torrance in Williams' "Orpheus Descending"

1959

Feature film debut, "Lonelyhearts"; earned first Oscar nomination

1960

Co-starred with Anna Magnani, Marlon Brando and Joanne Woodward in Sidney Lumet's "The Fugutive Kind", the film adaptation of Williams' "Orpheus Descending"

1965

First played Amanda Wingfield in Williams' The Glass Menagerie"

1966

Recreated her role in revival of "The Rose Tattoo"

1968

First collaboration with Neil Simon, "Plaza Suite"; played three roles

1970

Received a nomination for her supporting role in George Seaton's "Airport"

1970

Starred in Neil Simon's play "The Gingerbread Lady"

1971

Recreated one of her stage roles in feature version of "Plaza Suite"

1974

Played the title role in the acclaimed TV-movie "Queen of the Stardust Ballroom"

1975

Received a Grammy nomination in the Best Spoken Word for her recording of "To Kill a Mockingbird"

1978

Won acclaim for her performance in Woody Allen's "Interiors"

1978

Succeeded Jessica Tandy on Broadway in "The Gin Game"

1981

Inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame (April)

1981

Last Broadway performance to date, Birdie in the revival of "The Little Foxes" starring Elizabeth Taylor

1981

Portrayed anarchist-writer Emma Goldman in Warren Beatty's "Reds"

1984

Played Ma Kelly in Amy Heckerling's "Johnny Dangerously"

1985

Part of an ensemble in Ron Howard's sci-fi feature "Cocoon"

1988

Reprised role for "Cocoon: The Return"

1995

Published memoirs, "A Hell of a Life", co-written with Jane Scovill

1997

Played Meg Ryan's Nana in the comedy "Addicted to Love"

Videos

Movie Clip

Fugitive Kind, The (1960) - I Think They Got Him Having schmoozed himself and his guitar out of court in a Mississippi town, Valentine “Snakeskin” Xavier seeks shelter at what turns out to be the home of the local sheriff, where his wife Vee (Maureen Stapleton, a close Brando friend) tells him about a breakout, early in The Fugitive Kind, 1960.
Fugitive Kind, The (1960) - You Afraid I'll Snitch? Joanne Woodward as wayward heiress Carol Cutrere blows into a tiny Mississippi downtown (in a new-ish Jaguar XK), having recognized Marlon Brando as drifter “Snakeskin”, Maureen Stapleton as his new friend Vee, helping him land a job in the general store, Emory Richardson as the odd “Uncle Blessing,”in The Fugitive Kind, 1960, from Tennessee Williams’ play, directed by Sidney Lumet.
Cocoon (1985) - Open, She's Really Slipping Director Ron Howard introduces his child lead (Barret Oliver) then puts Industrial Light & Magic and much of his his acclaimed veteran cast (Wilford Brimley, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, Jack Gilford, Herta Ware) straight to work, opening Cocoon, 1985.
Cocoon (1985) - I'm In The Mood For Love Invigorated after their swim in the pool with the mystery ocean pods, Florida geezers Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley and Hume Cronyn, in a hurry to see partners Jessica Tandy, Gwen Verdon and Maureen Stapleton, their Mahjong friend Herta Ware intrigued, early in Ron Howard's Cocoon, 1985.
Reds (1981) - What Haven't We Covered? Portland, Oregon, 1915, a somewhat-contrived version of the meeting of the principals (writer-director Warren Beatty as journalist John "Jack" Reed, Diane Keaton as native Louise Bryant), M. Emmet Walsh the pompous orator at a local civic club, early in Reds, 1981.
Reds (1981) - They Are Waiting For Your Example Moscow, 1917, writer-director Warren Beatty as American radical journalist John “Jack” Reed, with Diane Keaton as his colleague and wife Louise Bryant, swept into supporting a general strike, though not recreating a specific historic event, in Reds, 1981.
Plaza Suite (1971) - Do It All Over Again Middle-aged Karen (Maureen Stapleton) and Sam (Walter Matthau) at the Plaza Hotel, their conversation growing grittier, in the first vignette of Plaza Suite, 1971, from Neil Simon's play and screenplay.
Lonelyhearts (1958) - I'd Be Too Embarrassed On a dare from his publisher, advice-columnist Adam (Montgomery Clift) rings up random correspondent Fay (Maureen Stapleton), in producer Dore Schary's Lonelyhearts, 1958, from the Nathanael West novelette.
Lonelyhearts (1958) - Say Something Nice The bitter ending of the quasi-date between troubled advice-columnist Adam (Montgomery Clift) and correspondent Fay (Maureen Stapleton), from Lonelyhearts, 1958, from the Nathanael West novelette.
Lonelyhearts (1958) - Vox Populi Beleaguered Adam (Montgomery Clift) has no luck, entering the bar to ask boss Shrike (Robert Ryan) to be taken off the advice-column, Florence (Myrna Loy) dumbfounded, in Lonelyhearts, 1958, from Nathanael West's novelette.

Trailer

Family

John Stapleton
Father
Alcoholic; died c. 1960.
Irene Stapleton
Mother
Secretary. Died in 1970.
Daniel Allentuck
Son
Born in 1950.
Katherine Bambery
Daughter
Born in 1954.

Companions

Max Allentuck
Husband
Producer. Married July 22, 1949; divorced in February 1959; born c. 1911; died on October 22, 1995.
David Rayfiel
Husband
Screenwriter; playwright. Married in July 1963; divorced c. 1966.
George Abbott
Companion
Producer; director; writer. Together c. 1968-78; born in 1887; died in 1995.

Bibliography

"A Hell of a Life"
Maureen Stapleton and Jane Scovell, Simon & Schuster (1995)

Notes

"She says her friend Marilyn Monroe couldn't get taken seriously as an actress because of her beauty; Stapleton had a different problem. 'People looked at me onstage and said, Jesus, that broad better be able to act.'"--From PEOPLE, October 23, 1995

She received the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award in 1969.

The theater at the Hudson Valely Community Coolege in Troy, NY is named in honor of Stapleton.