Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Maureen Stapleton R.I.P.

Character actress Maureen Stapleton died yesterday from chronic pulmonary disease at age 80.

Stapleton was born in Troy, New York on June 12, 1925. She started acting on stage almost as soon as she graduated high school. She first appeared on Broadway in 1946 in The Playboy of the Western World. She earned her first Tony playing Serafina Delle Rose in The Rose Tattoo. She continued to appear on the Broadway stage for much of her career, in such productions as Toys in the Attic, The Secret Affairs of Margaret Wild, and The Little Foxes.

Stapleton made her first appearance on television in an episode of the series Curtain Call in 1951. She would go onto guest star on such series as The Philco Television Playhouse, Studio One, and even Saturday Night Live. She is perhaps better known for her work in film. She made her film debut in Lonelyhearts in 1958. She would go onto lpay Mama Mae Peterson in the film version of Bye, Bye Birdie and writer Emma Goldman in Red. She received the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for that role. She was also nominated for Oscars for her roles in Lonelyhearts, Airport, and Interiors. She also appeared in Plaza Suite, Cocoon and Johnny Dangerously.

I always did like Maureen Stapleton. She seemed to have a remarkable range. Her characters were almost always down to earth, but they could vary from strong to vulnerable. Sometimes the characters she played were downright unstable. Regardless, Stapleton always played her parts well. It is sad to think that she is gone.

She seemed very capable of playing down to earth characters who could be either tough or vulnerable, and sometimes both.

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