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Maureen Stapleton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Maureen Stapleton
Stapleton in 1975
Lois Maureen Stapleton

(1925-06-21)June 21, 1925
DiedMarch 13, 2006(2006-03-13) (aged 80)
Years active1946–2003
Max Allentuck
(m. 1949; div. 1959)
(m. 1963; div. 1966)

Lois Maureen Stapleton (June 21, 1925[citation needed] – March 13, 2006) was an American actress. She received numerous accolades, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, and two Tony Awards, in addition to a nomination for a Grammy Award.

She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Lonelyhearts (1958), Airport (1970), and Interiors (1978), before winning for her performance as Emma Goldman in Reds (1981). For Reds, Stapleton also won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She was nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, winning for Airport. Other notable film roles included Bye Bye Birdie (1963), Plaza Suite (1971), The Fan (1981), Cocoon (1985), The Money Pit (1986), and Nuts (1987).

She was nominated for seven Emmy Awards and won one for the television film Among the Paths to Eden (1967).[1]

Stapleton made her Broadway debut in 1946 in The Playboy of the Western World, and went on to win the 1951 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for The Rose Tattoo and the 1971 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for The Gingerbread Lady. She received four additional Tony Award nominations[2] and was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981.

She was "almost an EGOT," having won the Triple Crown of Acting, every major performing award except a Grammy, for which she was nominated in 1975.[3]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Maureen Stapleton--1979 TV Interview, Carroll O'Connor, Monti Rock III
  • Jean Stapleton Wins Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy | Emmys Archive (1978)
  • Chris Stapleton & Morgane Stapleton Perform “Where Rainbows Never Die” | FarmAid
  • Chris Stapleton - More Of You (Acoustic Version)
  • In Memoriam, 58th Primetime Emmy Awards (2006)


Early life

Stapleton was born in Troy, New York, the daughter of John P. Stapleton and Irene (née Walsh), and grew up in a strict Irish American Catholic family.[4][5] Her father was an alcoholic and her parents separated during her childhood.[6][7]


Stapleton with Don Murray in The Rose Tattoo (1951)

Stapleton moved to New York City at the age of 18, and worked as a salesgirl, hotel clerk, and modeled to pay the bills, including for artist Raphael Soyer.[8] She once said that it was her infatuation with the handsome Hollywood actor Joel McCrea which led her into acting. She made her Broadway debut in the production featuring Burgess Meredith of The Playboy of the Western World in 1946. That same year, she played the role of "Iras" in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra in a touring production by actress and producer Katharine Cornell.[9] Stepping in because Anna Magnani refused the role due to her limited English, Stapleton won a Tony Award for her role in Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo in 1951 (Magnani's English improved, however, and she was able to play the role in the film version, winning an Oscar).

Stapleton played in other Williams' productions, including Twenty-Seven Wagons Full of Cotton and Orpheus Descending (and its film adaptation, The Fugitive Kind, co-starring her friend Marlon Brando), as well as in The Cold Wind and the Warm (Tony nomination, 1959) and Lillian Hellman's Toys in the Attic (1960), for which she received another Tony Award nomination. She was nominated for a Tony Award for Neil Simon's Plaza Suite in 1968 and won a second Tony Award for Simon's The Gingerbread Lady, which was written especially for her, in 1971. Later Broadway roles included a Tony-nominated turn as "Birdie" in The Little Foxes, opposite Elizabeth Taylor, and as a replacement for Jessica Tandy in The Gin Game.

Stapleton's film career, though limited, brought her immediate success, with her debut in Lonelyhearts (1958) earning nominations for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and a Golden Globe Award.[10] She appeared in the 1963 film version of Bye Bye Birdie, in the role of Mama Mae Peterson, with Dick Van Dyke, Janet Leigh, Paul Lynde, and Ann-Margret. Stapleton played the role of Dick Van Dyke's mother, even though she was only five months and 22 days older than Van Dyke. She was nominated again for an Oscar for Airport (Golden Globe Award nomination, 1970[10]) and Woody Allen's Interiors (Golden Globe Award nomination, 1978[10]). She won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Reds (1981), directed by Warren Beatty, in which she portrayed the Lithuanian-born anarchist, Emma Goldman. In her acceptance speech, she stated, "I would like to thank everyone I've ever met in my entire life."[11] Her later appearances included Johnny Dangerously (1984), Cocoon (1985), and its sequel Cocoon: The Return (1988).

Stapleton with Jason Robards in 1958

Stapleton won a 1968 Emmy Award for her performance in Among the Paths of Eden and was nominated for six more, for Avonlea (1996), Miss Rose White (1992), B.L. Stryker (1989), the television version of All the King's Men (1959), Queen of the Stardust Ballroom (1975), and The Gathering (1977), and Kraft Theatre (1959).[1] She also appeared opposite Laurence Olivier and Natalie Wood in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1976).

She was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981.[12] She was an alumna of the famous Actors Studio in New York City, led by Lee Strasberg, where she became friends with Marilyn Monroe, who was only one year younger than Stapleton. She was impressed with Monroe's talent, and always thought it was a shame that Monroe was rarely allowed to play roles beyond the ditzy blonde. By comparison, Stapleton thought herself lucky: "I never had that problem. People looked at me on stage and said, 'Jesus, that broad better be able to act.'" One of the most famously remembered scenes at the studio was when Stapleton and Monroe acted in Anna Christie together.

Despite her association with Strasberg, Stapleton cited Mira Rostova as her most influential acting teacher.[13] She appeared with Rostova and another of Rostova's pupils, Montgomery Clift, Off-Broadway in The Sea Gull (1954).[14] Additionally, in his book Sanford Meisner on Acting, Meisner cites Stapleton as being "a wonderful actress." The pair starred together on Broadway in The Cold Wind and the Warm.[15]

She was nominated for a 1975 Grammy Award for the spoken word recording of To Kill a Mockingbird.[16]

She hosted the 19th episode of Season 4 of NBC's Saturday Night Live in 1979.

Personal life and death

Stapleton's first husband was Max Allentuck, general manager to the producer Kermit Bloomgarden, and her second was playwright David Rayfiel, from whom she divorced in 1966.[17] She had a son, Daniel, and a daughter, Katherine, by her first husband.[18] Her daughter, Katherine Allentuck, played a single movie role, that of "Aggie" in Summer of '42 (Stapleton herself also had a minor, uncredited role in the film as the protagonist's mother, though only her voice is heard; she does not appear on camera). Her son, Daniel Allentuck, is a documentary filmmaker.

Stapleton suffered from anxiety and alcoholism for many years, and once told an interviewer, "The curtain came down, and I went into the vodka."[8] She also said that her unhappy childhood contributed to her insecurities, which included a fear of flying, airplanes, and elevators.[19] A lifelong heavy smoker, Stapleton died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2006 at her home in Lenox, Massachusetts.[8]

In 1981 Hudson Valley Community College in Stapleton's childhood city of Troy, New York, dedicated a theater in her name.[20]

She was not related through her father to All In the Family star Jean Stapleton (who used her mother's maiden name professionally).



Year Title Role Notes
1955 Main Street to Broadway Maureen Stapleton - First Nighter Uncredited
1958 Lonelyhearts Fay Doyle Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1960 The Fugitive Kind Vee Talbot
1961 A View from the Bridge Beatrice Carbone
1963 Bye Bye Birdie Mama Mae Peterson
1969 Trilogy Mary O'Meaghan (segment "Among the Paths to Eden")
1970 Airport Inez Guerrero Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
1971 Summer of '42 Hermie's mother Voice, Uncredited
Plaza Suite Karen Nash Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
1978 Interiors Pearl Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated - National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
1979 Lost and Found Jemmy
The Runner Stumbles Mrs. Shandig
1981 On the Right Track Mary the Bag Lady
The Fan Belle Goldman
Reds Emma Goldman Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated - New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress (runner-up)
1984 Johnny Dangerously Ma Kelly
1985 Cocoon Marilyn Luckett
1986 The Money Pit Estelle
The Cosmic Eye Mother Earth Voice
Heartburn Vera
1987 Sweet Lorraine[21] Lillian Garber
Made in Heaven Aunt Lisa
Nuts Rose Kirk
1988 Cocoon: The Return Marilyn 'Mary' Luckett
Doin' Time on Planet Earth Helium Balloon Saleslady
1992 Passed Away Mary Scanlan
1994 The Last Good Time Ida Cutler
Trading Mom Mrs. Cavour
1997 Addicted to Love Nana
1998 Wilbur Falls Wilbur Falls High Secretary
2003 Living and Dining Mrs. Lundt Final film role


Year Title Role Notes
1954 Medic Evelyn Strauss episode: Day 10
The Philco Television Playhouse Daughter episode: The Mother
1955 The Philco Television Playhouse Mrs. Johnson episode: Incident in July
1956 Armstrong Circle Theatre Mrs. Elizabeth Steigerwald episode: H.R. 8438: The Story of a Lost Boy
The Alcoa Hour Vi Miller episode: No License to Kill (II)
Studio One in Hollywood Rachel Johnson episode: Rachel
1958 Kraft Theatre Sadie Burke episode: All the King's Men
Nominated-Primetime Emmy Award for Best Single Performance by an Actress
1959 Playhouse 90 Pilar episode: For Whom the Bell Tolls
1960 CBS Repertoire Workshop Tessie episode: Tessie Malfitano and Anton Waldek
1961 Car 54, Where Are You? Gypsy Woman episode: The Gypsy Curse
Naked City Abbey Bick episode: Ooftus Goofus
1962 Naked City Ruth Cullan episode: Kill Me While I'm Young So I Can Die Happy!
The DuPont Show of the Week Professor Gretchen Anna Thaelman episode: The Betrayal
1964 East Side/West Side Molly Cavanaugh episode: One Drink at a Time
1967 Among the Paths to Eden Mary O'Meaghan (TV movie)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Drama
1969 Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall Ruthie Maxwell (TV movie)
1974 Tell Me Where It Hurts Connie (TV movie)
1975 Queen of the Stardust Ballroom Bea Asher (TV movie)
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Special Program - Drama or Comedy
1976 The Lively Arts Amanda Wingfield in 'The Glass Menagerie' episode: Tennessee Williams
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Big Mama (TV movie)
1977 The Gathering Kate (TV movie)
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama or Comedy Special
1979 Letters from Frank Betty Miller (TV movie)
The Gathering, Part II Kate Thornton (TV movie)
Saturday Night Live Herself (host) Episode: "Maureen Stapleton/Linda Ronstadt and Phoebe Snow"
1982 The Electric Grandmother Grandmother (TV movie)
Little Gloria... Happy at Last Nurse Emma Kieslich (TV movie)
1983 Great Performances White Queen episode: Alice in Wonderland
1984 Sentimental Journey Ruthie (TV movie)
Family Secrets Maggie Lukauer (TV movie)
1985 Private Sessions Dr. Liz Bolger (TV movie)
1988 The Thorns Peggy
Mrs. Hamilton
episode: The Other Maid
episode: The Maid
Liberace: Behind the Music Frances Liberace (TV movie)
1989 B.L. Stryker Auntie Sue episode: Auntie Sue
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
The Equalizer Emily Rutherford episode: The Caper
1992 Last Wish Ida Rollin (TV movie)
Miss Rose White Tanta Perla (TV movie)
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Lincoln Sarah Bush Lincoln (voice)
(TV movie)
1995 Road to Avonlea Maggie MacPhee episode: What a Tangled Web We Weave
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series


Year Title Role Venue Notes
1946–1947 The Playboy of the Western World Sara Tansey / Pegeen Mike (replacement) Booth Theatre 81 performances
1947–1948 Antony and Cleopatra Iras Martin Beck Theatre 126 performances
1949–1950 Detective Story Miss Hatch Hudson Theatre
Broadhurst Theatre
581 performances
1950 The Bird Cage Emily Williams Coronet Theatre 21 performances
1951 The Rose Tattoo Serafina Delle Rose Martin Beck Theatre 306 performances
Theatre World Award for Outstanding Individual
Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play
1953 The Crucible Elizabeth Proctoer (replacement) Martin Beck Theatre
1953 The Emperor's Clothes Bella Ethel Barrymore Theatre 16 performances
1953 Richard III Lady Anne City Center 15 performances
1955 All in One Flora Meighan Playhouse Theatre 47 performances
1957 Orpheus Descending Lady Torrance Martin Beck Theatre 68 performances
1958–1959 The Cold Wind and the Warm Ida Morosco Theatre 120 performances
Nominated – Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play
1960–1961 Toys in the Attic Carrie Berniers Hudson Theatre 456 performances
Nominated – Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play
1965 The Glass Menagerie The Mother Brooks Atkinson Theatre 175 performances
1966 The Rose Tattoo Serafina Delle Rose Billy Rose Theatre 62 performances
1968–1970 Plaza Suite Karen Nash / Muriel Tate / Norma Hubley Plymouth Theatre 1,097 performances
Nominated – Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play
1970 Norman, Is That You? Beatrice Chambers Lyceum Theatre 12 performances
1970–1971 The Gingerbread Lady Evy Meara Plymouth Theatre 193 performances
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play
Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play
1972 The Country Girl Georgie Elgin Billy Rose Theatre 61 performances
1972 The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild Mildred Wild Ambassador Theatre 23 performances
1975–1976 The Glass Menagerie The Mother Circle in the Square Theatre 77 performances
1977–1978 The Gin Game Fonisa Dorsey (replacement) John Golden Theatre
1981 The Little Foxes Bridie Hubbard Martin Beck Theatre 126 performances
Nominated – Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play


  1. ^ a b "Maureen Stapleton". Television Academy. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  2. ^ "Maureen Stapleton Tony Awards Info". Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  3. ^ "Maureen Stapleton: Almost an EGOT". Legacy. March 13, 2014. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  4. ^ Sean O'Driscol (March 2006). "Stapleton, Oscar Winner, Dies at 80". Irish Abroad. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
  5. ^ Tom Vallance (March 15, 2006). "Maureen Stapleton". The Independent. Archived from the original on January 13, 2013. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
  6. ^ "Famed Actress Maureen Stapleton Dies". CBS News. The Associated Press. March 13, 2006. Archived from the original on March 2, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
  7. ^ Robert Berkvist (March 19, 2006). "Maureen Stapleton; actress collected Oscar, Tonys, Emmy". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on September 9, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
  8. ^ a b c Berkvist, Robert (March 13, 2006). "Maureen Stapleton, Oscar-Winning Actress, Is Dead at 80". The New York Times. Retrieved May 4, 2008.
  9. ^ Mosel, "Leading Lady: The World and Theatre of Katharine Cornell
  10. ^ a b c "Maureen Stapleton". Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  11. ^ The Oscar Acceptance Speech: By and Large, It's a Lost Art Washington Post. March 21, 1999.
  12. ^ "26 Elected to the Theater Hall of Fame." The New York Times, March 3, 1981.
  13. ^ Stapleton, Maureen; Scovell, Jane (1995). A Hell of a Life: An Autobiography. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-81092-8.
  14. ^ "The Seagull". Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  15. ^ Hultman, Jon B. (February 5, 1997). "Sanford Meisner". Variety. Retrieved May 23, 2023.
  16. ^ "Maureen Stapleton". May 19, 2020. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  17. ^ Daniel McEneny (June 2009). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: David Rayfiel House". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2011.
  18. ^ Berkvist, Robert (March 13, 2006). "Maureen Stapleton, Oscar-Winning Actress, Is Dead at 80". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 21, 2021.
  19. ^ Haun, Harry (September 20, 2006). "Friends and Colleagues Remember Maureen Stapleton at Memorial". Playbill. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  20. ^ "College to Call Theater The Maureen Stapleton". The New York Times. November 30, 1981. Retrieved May 4, 2008.
  21. ^ "Overnight fire destroys Heiden Hotel of Sweet Lorraine fame". Times Herald-Record. Middletown, New York. May 18, 2008. Archived from the original on February 1, 2013. Retrieved June 9, 2010.

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