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Marian Seldes
Seldes in Ondine (1954)
Marian Hall Seldes

(1928-08-23)August 23, 1928
New York City, U.S.
DiedOctober 6, 2014(2014-10-06) (aged 86)
New York City, U.S.
Years active1948–2011
(m. 1953; div. 1961)
(m. 1990; died 1999)
ParentGilbert Seldes (father)
RelativesGeorge Seldes (uncle)

Marian Hall Seldes (August 23, 1928 – October 6, 2014) was an American actress. A five-time Tony Award nominee, she won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for A Delicate Balance in 1967, and received subsequent nominations for Father's Day (1971), Deathtrap (1978–82), Ring Round the Moon (1999), and Dinner at Eight (2002). She also won a Drama Desk Award for Father's Day.

Her other Broadway credits include Equus (1974–77), Ivanov (1997), and Deuce (2007). She was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1995 and received the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2010.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Marian Seldes' First Appearance on THEATER TALK (full episode)
  • Marian Seldes Remembers Muriel Draper
  • A Replacement Tony for Marian Seldes
  • Classic Clips: Marian Seldes (2009)
  • Marian Seldes & Mercedes Ruehl on Edward Albee's Women (Full Episode)


Early life

Seldes was born in Manhattan, the daughter of Alice Wadhams Hall, a socialite, and Gilbert Seldes, a journalist, author, and editor.[1] Her uncle was journalist George Seldes. She had one brother, Timothy. Seldes's paternal grandparents were Russian-Jewish immigrants, and her mother was from a "prominent WASP family," the "Episcopalian blue-blooded Halls."[2][3] She grew up in a creative environment, studying acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse. Her maternal aunt, Marian Wells Hall, was a prominent interior decorator.[4]


Trained for the stage, Seldes made her Broadway debut in 1948 in a production of Medea. She went on to an illustrious career in which she earned five Tony Award nominations, winning her first time out in 1967 for A Delicate Balance. In addition to performing in live theatre, Seldes began acting in television in 1952 in a Hallmark Hall of Fame production that marked the first of many guest star roles. She also performed in a number of movies and in radio plays. In the mid-1960s, Seldes recorded five albums for Folkways Records of famous works of literature, including two recordings of poetry by Robinson Jeffers.[5] Between 1974 and 1982, she appeared in 179 episodes of the CBS Radio Mystery Theater. In 1992, she appeared in an episode of Murphy Brown as the title character’s eccentric Aunt Brooke.

Seldes studied with Sanford Meisner, Katharine Cornell, and Martha Graham. Actor Laura Linney said "Marian is our touchstone to those theatrical ancestors. She provides an inspiration that makes you want to reach outside of yourself to something more potent and powerful."[6] Seldes was a member of the drama faculty of The Juilliard School from 1967 to 1991. Her students included Christopher Reeve, Robin Williams, Kelsey Grammer, Kevin Kline, William Hurt, Patti LuPone,[6] Val Kilmer, and Kevin Spacey.[7] In 2002, Seldes began teaching at Fordham University, Lincoln Center.

Seldes appeared in every one of the 1,809 Broadway performances of Ira Levin's play Deathtrap, a feat that earned her a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records as "most durable actress".[8][9] Seldes was also well known for her readings of short stories in the "Selected Shorts" series hosted by Isaiah Sheffer at New York City's Symphony Space.

In December 2008, for their annual birthday celebration to "The Master", Noël Coward, the Noël Coward Society invited Seldes as the guest celebrity to lay flowers in front of Coward's statue at New York's Gershwin Theatre, thereby commemorating the playwright’s 109th birthday. Seldes was the recipient of a 2010 Tony Lifetime Achievement Award.[10] "All I've done is live my life in the theater and loved it ... If you can get an award for being happy, that's what I've got."[11]

In 2012, Seldes played the knife-wielding socialite Mabel Billingsly in the film adaptation of Wendy Mass' popular children's book Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, written and directed by Tamar Halpern.[12]

Personal life

Seldes had one child, Katharine, by her first marriage to Julian Claman. They were divorced in 1961. Seldes stated that the marriage to Claman was violent. "If I sound a little vague about that marriage, it's because I don't understand the person in it. Me. I literally didn't know that people could be abusive." Seldes left the marriage after her father noticed marks on her face.[6] Seldes was married to screenwriter/playwright Garson Kanin from 1990 until his death in 1999.[6]


Seldes died at age 86 on October 6, 2014 in Manhattan.[11]

The cause of her death was not released. However, in 2017, it was reported that a documentary about her life, Marian, by director R.E. "Rick" Rodgers, chronicling Seldes' last years, had created "consternation in the theater world" as a "horrific, intrusive depiction of her slide into dementia".[13][14]

Partial listing of her work



George Nader and Seldes in The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen, 1959




Awards and nominations


  • 1964 Obie Award for Distinguished Performance: The Ginger Man
  • 1967 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play: A Delicate Balance
  • 1971 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Performance: Father's Day
  • 1983 Outer Circle Critics Award for Best Actress in a Play: Painting Churches
  • 2001 Obie Award for Sustained Achievement
  • 2010 Tony Lifetime Achievement Award


  • 1971 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play: Father's Day
  • 1978 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play: Deathtrap
  • 1998 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play: Ivanov
  • 1999 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play: Ring Round the Moon
  • 1999 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play: Ring Round the Moon
  • 2001 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play: The Butterfly Collection
  • 2001 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play: The Play About the Baby
  • 2003 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play: Dinner at Eight
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play: Dedication or The Stuff of Dreams


  1. ^ "Fifteenth Census of the United States: 1930 Population", enumeration page including household of Gilbert Seldes and documentation relating to his 19-month-old daughter Marian H. Seldes, Manhattan Borough, New York City, April 11, 1930; digital image of original 1930 enumeration page, U.S. Bureau of the Census. Retrieved image of cited document via FamilySearch online archive, January 7, 2023.
  2. ^ "Marian Seldes to headline her latest stage return". The Villager. New York. Archived from the original on September 2, 2013. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  3. ^ "Marian Seldes". Yahoo! Movies. April 20, 2011. Archived from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  4. ^ "Marian Wells Hall, Decorator, Was 76". The New York Times. March 2, 1972.
  5. ^ "Seldes discography". Smithsonian Folkways. Retrieved April 11, 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d Witchel, Alex (June 14, 2010). "The 60-Year Stage Life of Marian Seldes". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Spacey, Kevin (October 10, 2014). "Kevin Spacey pays tribute to the Juilliard teacher who gave him 'wings'". New York Post. Archived from the original on April 28, 2016.
  8. ^ Simonson, Robert (November 13, 2007). "Ira Levin, Author of Hit Mystery Play Deathtrap, Dies at 78". Playbill. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  9. ^ "No. 4 in Long Play Runs, 'Deathtrap' Will Close". The New York Times. June 8, 1982.
  10. ^ "Spotlight On: The 2012–2013 Broadway Season". Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  11. ^ a b Berkvist, Robert (October 7, 2014). "Theater: Marian Seldes, Regal Presence of Broadway, Dies". The New York Times. No. 56647. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  12. ^ Buckwald, Bethany (October 6, 2014). "Tony Award and American Theatre Hall of Fame Inductee Marian Seldes Has Died". Theatermania. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  13. ^ Riedel, Michael (September 26, 2017). "Broadway insiders horrified by documentary on theater icon's sad final days". New York Post. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  14. ^ Rosky, Nicole. "Rick McKay Pens Open Letter to Marian Seldes Documentary Filmmaker". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  15. ^ "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 41 (2): 32–41. Spring 2015.

External links

This page was last edited on 29 July 2023, at 04:44
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