Colleen Dewhurst

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Colleen Dewhurst
Colleen Dewhurst.JPG
Dewhurst in The Trial of Susan B. Anthony, 1971
Colleen Rose Dewhurst

(1924-06-03)3 June 1924
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died22 August 1991(1991-08-22) (aged 67)
OccupationFilm, stage, television, and voice actress
Years active1952–1991
James Vickery
(m. 1947;div. 1960)

George C. Scott
(m. 1960;div. 1965)

George C. Scott
(m. 1967;div. 1972)
Partner(s)Ken Marsolais (1975–her death)
11th President of the Actors' Equity Association
In office
Preceded by Ellen Burstyn
Succeeded by Ron Silver

Colleen Rose Dewhurst (3 June 1924 – 22 August 1991) was a Canadian-American actress. She is known most for theatre roles, and for a while as "the Queen of Off-Broadway". In her autobiography, Dewhurst wrote: "I had moved so quickly from one Off-Broadway production to the next that I was known, at one point, as the 'Queen of Off-Broadway'. This title was not due to my brilliance, but, rather, because most of the plays I was in closed after a run of anywhere from one night to two weeks. I would then move immediately into another." [1] She was a renowned interpreter of the works of Eugene O'Neill on the stage, and her career also encompassed film, early dramas on live television, and Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival. One of her last roles was playing Marilla Cuthbert in the Kevin Sullivan television adaptations of the Anne of Green Gables series, and her reprisal of the role in the subsequent TV series Road to Avonlea (marketed as Avonlea in the US). Dewhurst won two Tony Awards and four Emmy Awards for her stage and television work.

Canadian Americans ethnic group

Canadian Americans are American citizens whose ancestry is wholly or partly Canadian. The term is particularly apt when applied or self-applied to people with strong ties to Canada, such as those who have lived a significant portion of their lives or were educated in Canada, and then relocated to the United States. To others, especially for those living in New England or the Midwest, a Canadian American is one whose ancestors came from Canada.

An Off-Broadway theatre is any professional venue in Manhattan in New York City with a seating capacity between 100 and 499, inclusive. These theatres are smaller than Broadway theatres, but larger than Off-Off-Broadway theatres, which seat fewer than 100.

Eugene ONeill American playwright, and Nobel laureate in Literature

Eugene Gladstone O'Neill was an American playwright and Nobel laureate in Literature. His poetically titled plays were among the first to introduce into U.S. drama techniques of realism earlier associated with Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish playwright August Strindberg. The drama Long Day's Journey into Night is often numbered on the short list of the finest U.S. plays in the 20th century, alongside Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.


Early life

Colleen Dewhurst was born 3 June 1924, in Montreal, Quebec, to housewife Frances Marie (née Woods) and Ferdinand Augustus "Fred" Dewhurst. She had no siblings. Fred Dewhurst was the owner of a chain of confectionery stores, and wife Frances' father had been a celebrated athlete in Canada, where he had played football with the Ottawa Rough Riders". [2] The family became naturalized as U.S. citizens before 1940. Colleen's mother was a Christian Scientist, a faith Colleen also embraced. [3]

Ottawa Rough Riders former Canadian Football League franchise

The Ottawa Rough Riders were a Canadian Football League team based in Ottawa, Ontario, founded in 1876. Formerly one of the oldest and longest lived professional sports teams in North America, the Rough Riders won the Grey Cup championship nine times. Their most dominant era was the 1960s and 1970s, a period in which they won five Grey Cups. The team's fortunes waned in the 1980s and 1990s and they ultimately ceased operations following the 1996 season. Five years later, a new CFL team known as the Ottawa Renegades was founded, though they suspended operations in 2006. The Ottawa Redblacks, who own the Rough Riders intellectual properties, joined the league in 2014.

Christian Science Set of beliefs and practices belonging to the metaphysical family of new religious movements

Christian Science is a set of beliefs and practices belonging to the metaphysical family of new religious movements. It was developed in 19th-century New England by Mary Baker Eddy, who argued in her 1875 book Science and Health that sickness is an illusion that can be corrected by prayer alone. The book became Christian Science's central text, along with the Bible, and by 2001 had sold over nine million copies.

The Dewhursts moved to Massachusetts in 1928 or 1929, staying in Boston, Dorchester, Auburndale, and West Newton. Later they moved to New York City, and then to Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. She attended Whitefish Bay High School for her first two years of high school, moved to Shorewood High School for her junior year, and finally graduated from Riverside High School in Milwaukee in 1942. Around this time, her parents separated. Dewhurst went on to attend Milwaukee-Downer College for two years before moving to New York City to pursue an acting career. [4]

Boston State capital of Massachusetts, U.S.

Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. The city proper covers 48 square miles (124 km2) with an estimated population of 694,583 in 2018, making it also the most populous city in New England. Boston is the seat of Suffolk County as well, although the county government was disbanded on July 1, 1999. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) home to a census-estimated 4.8 million people in 2016 and ranking as the tenth-largest such area in the country. As a combined statistical area (CSA), this wider commuting region is home to some 8.2 million people, making it the sixth most populous in the United States.

Dorchester, Boston Neighborhood of Boston in Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States

Dorchester is a Boston neighborhood comprising more than 6 square miles (16 km2) in the City of Boston, Massachusetts, United States. Originally, Dorchester was a separate town, founded by Puritans who emigrated in 1630 from Dorchester, Dorset, England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This dissolved municipality, Boston's largest neighborhood by far, is often divided by city planners in order to create two planning areas roughly equivalent in size and population to other Boston neighborhoods.

Auburndale, Massachusetts Village in Massachusetts, United States

Auburndale, known to longtime residents simply as "The Dale", is one of the 13 villages within the city of Newton, Massachusetts. It lies at the western end of Newton near the intersection of interstate highways 90 and 95. It is bisected by the Massachusetts Turnpike. Auburndale is surrounded by three other Newton villages as well as the city of Waltham and the Charles River. Auburndale is the home of Williams and Burr elementary schools, as well as Lasell College. Auburndale Square is the location of the Plummer Memorial Library, which is run by the Auburndale Community Library and no longer affiliated with the Newton Free Library, the Turtle Lane Playhouse, and many small businesses.


One of Dewhurst's most significant stage roles was in the 1974 Broadway revival of O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten as Josie Hogan, for which she won a Tony Award. She previously won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in 1961 for All the Way Home . She later played Katharina in a 1956 production of Taming of the Shrew for Joseph Papp. She (as recounted in her posthumous obituary in collaboration with Tom Viola) wrote:

<i>A Moon for the Misbegotten</i> 1941 play written by Eugene ONeill

A Moon for the Misbegotten is a play by Eugene O'Neill. The play is a sequel to O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night, with the Jim Tyrone character as an older version of Jamie Tyrone. He began drafting the play late in 1941, set it aside after a few months and returned to it a year later, completing the text in 1943 – his final work, as his failing health made it physically impossible for him to write. The play premiered on Broadway in 1957 and has had four Broadway revivals, plus a West End engagement.

Tony Award awards for live Broadway theatre

The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Broadway Theatre, more commonly known as the Tony Award, recognizes excellence in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in Midtown Manhattan. The awards are given for Broadway productions and performances, and an award is given for regional theatre. Several discretionary non-competitive awards are also given, including a Special Tony Award, the Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre, and the Isabelle Stevenson Award. The awards are named after Antoinette "Tony" Perry, co-founder of the American Theatre Wing.

All the Way Home is a play written by American playwright Tad Mosel, adapted from the 1957 James Agee novel, A Death in the Family. Both authors received the Pulitzer Prize for their separate works.

With Brooks Atkinson's blessing, our world changed overnight. Suddenly in our audience of neighbors in T-shirts and jeans appeared men in white shirts, jackets and ties, and ladies in summer dresses. We were in a hit that would have a positive effect on my career, as well as Joe's, but I missed the shouting. [1]

She played Shakespeare's Cleopatra and Lady Macbeth for Papp and, years later, Gertrude in a production of Hamlet at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. Dewhurst and George C. Scott met while working together in 1958, in Children of Darkness , while they were both married to other people.

<i>Antony and Cleopatra</i> play by William Shakespeare

Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. The play was first performed, by the King's Men, at either the Blackfriars Theatre or the Globe Theatre in around 1607; its first appearance in print was in the Folio of 1623.

Lady Macbeth character in Macbeth

Lady Macbeth is a leading character in William Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth (c.1603–1607). The wife of the play's tragic hero, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth goads her husband into committing regicide, after which she becomes queen of Scotland. Later, however, she suffers pangs of guilt for her part in the crime, which drives her to sleepwalk. She dies off-stage in the last act, an apparent suicide.

<i>Hamlet</i> tragedy by William Shakespeare

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, often shortened to Hamlet, is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare sometime between 1599 and 1602. Set in Denmark, the play depicts Prince Hamlet and his revenge against his uncle, Claudius, who has murdered Hamlet's father in order to seize his throne and marry Hamlet's mother.

She appeared in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode Night Fever in 1965 and with Ingrid Bergman in More Stately Mansions on Broadway in 1967. José Quintero directed her in O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night and Mourning Becomes Electra . She appeared in Edward Albee's adaptation of Carson McCullers' Ballad of the Sad Cafe , and as Martha in a Broadway revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf , opposite Ben Gazzara which Albee directed.

Dewhurst (right) guest-starring on The Big Valley in 1966 with Barbara Stanwyck (left) Barbara Stanwyck Colleen Dewhurst The Big Valley.jpg
Dewhurst (right) guest-starring on The Big Valley in 1966 with Barbara Stanwyck (left)

She appeared in 1962 as Joanne Novak in the episode "I Don't Belong in a White-Painted House" in NBC's medical drama, The Eleventh Hour , starring Wendell Corey and Jack Ging. Dewhurst appeared opposite her then-husband, Scott, in a 1971 television adaptation of Arthur Miller's The Price , on Hallmark Hall of Fame , an anthology series, and there is another television recording of them together when she played Elizabeth Proctor to his unfaithful John in Miller's The Crucible (with Tuesday Weld). In 1977, Woody Allen cast her in his film Annie Hall as Annie's mother.

In 1972, she played a madam, Mrs. Kate Collingwood, in The Cowboys (1972), which starred John Wayne. In 1985, she played the role of Marilla Cuthbert in Kevin Sullivan's adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery's novel Anne of Green Gables , and reprised the role in 1987's Anne of Avonlea (also known as Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel), and in several episodes of Kevin Sullivan's Road to Avonlea . Dewhurst died before the character of Marilla could be written out and her final scenes were picked up off the editing-room floor and pieced together for her death scene. During 1989 and 1990, she appeared in a supporting role on the television series Murphy Brown playing the feisty mother of Candice Bergen's title character; this role earned her two Emmy Awards, the second being awarded posthumously. Dewhurst won a total of two Tony Awards and four Emmy Awards for her stage and television work.

She was president of the Actors' Equity Association from 1985 until her death.

Personal life and final years

Dewhurst was married to James Vickery from 1947 to 1960. She married and divorced George C. Scott twice. They had two sons, Alexander Scott and actor Campbell Scott; she co-starred with Campbell in Dying Young (1991), one of her last performances. During the last years of her life, she lived on a farm in South Salem, New York, with her partner, Ken Marsolais. They also had a summer home on Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Dewhurst's Christian Science beliefs [5] led to her refusal to countenance any kind of surgical treatment. Maureen Stapleton wrote about Dewhurst:

Colleen looked like a warrior, so people assumed she was the earth mother. But in real life Colleen was not to be let out without a keeper. She couldn't stop herself from taking care of people, which she then did with more care than she took care of herself. Her generosity of spirit was overwhelming and her smile so dazzling that you couldn't pull the f_-kng reins in on her even if you desperately wanted to and knew damn well that somebody should. [1]

Dewhurst's summer home at Fortune Bridge, Prince Edward Island was built by the playwright Elmer Blaney Harris. It is a private inn as of August 2008. HarrisHouse FortuneBridgePE Wide.jpg
Dewhurst's summer home at Fortune Bridge, Prince Edward Island was built by the playwright Elmer Blaney Harris. It is a private inn as of August 2008.

Dewhurst died of cervical cancer, age 67, at her South Salem home in 1991. She was cremated and her ashes were given to family and friends; no public service was planned.


Over the course of her 45-year career, Dewhurst won the 1974 Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre, two Tony Awards, two Obie Awards, and two Gemini Awards. In 1989, she won the Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her role in Hitting Home. Of her 13 Emmy Award nominations, she won four. She was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981. [6]

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Films and television films

1959 The Nun's Story Archangel Gabriel (Sanatorium)
1960 Man on a String Helen Benson
1961The Foxestelevision film
1962Focustelevision film
1966 A Fine Madness Dr. Vera Kropotkin
1967The CrucibleElizabeth Proctortelevision film (adaptation of the play The Crucible )
1971The PriceEsther Franztelevision film
1971 The Last Run Monique
1972 The Cowboys Kate
1972 The Hands of Cormac Joyce Molly JoyceMade for television film
1973Legend in GraniteMarie Lombarditelevision film
1974 Parker Addison, Philosopher Hostesstelevision film
The Music School Hostesstelevision film
McQ Myra
The Story of Jacob and Joseph Rebekahtelevision film
1975A Moon for the MisbegottenJosie Hogantelevision film (adaptation of the play A Moon for the Misbegotten )
1977 Annie Hall Mrs. Hall
1978 The Third Walker Kate Maclean
Ice Castles Beulah Smith
1979Silent Victory: The Kitty O'Neil StoryMrs. O'Neiltelevision film
When a Stranger Calls Tracy Fuller
And Baby Makes SixAnna Kramertelevision film
Mary and Joseph: A Story of FaithElizabethtelevision film
1980Death PenaltyElaine Liptontelevision film
EscapeLily Levinsontelevision film
Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones Mrs. Myrtle Kennedytelevision miniseries
The Women's Room Valtelevision film (based on the book The Women's Room )
A Perfect MatchMeg Larsontelevision film
Baby Comes HomeAnna Kramertelevision film
Final Assignment Dr. Valentine Ulanova
Tribute Gladys Petrelli
1981A Few Days in Weasel CreekAunt Coratelevision film
1982Split Cherry TreeMother
Between Two Brotherstelevision film
1983Sometimes I WonderGrandmatelevision film
The Dead Zone Henrietta Dodd
1984You Can't Take It with YouGrand Duchess Olga Katrinatelevision film (adaptation of the play You Can't Take It with You )
The Glitter Dome Lorna Dillmantelevision film
1985 Anne of Green Gables Marilla Cuthberttelevision film
1986 Between Two Women Barbara Pethertontelevision film
Johnny BullMarie Kovacstelevision film
As Is Hospice Workertelevision film
The Boy Who Could Fly Mrs. Sherman
Sword of Gideon Golda Meir television film
1987 Hitting Home Judgetelevision film
BigfootGladys Samcotelevision film
Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel Marilla Cuthberttelevision film
1988Woman in the Wind
1989 Those She Left Behind Margaret Pagetelevision film
Termini Station Molly Dushane
1990 The Exorcist III Pazuzu Voice, Uncredited
Kaleidoscope Margarettelevision film
Lantern Hill Elizabethtelevision film
1991 Dying Young Estelle Whittier
Bed & Breakfast Ruth(final film role)
2000 Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story Marilla Cuthberttelevision miniseries, uncredited (archive footage)
2008 Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning Marilla Cuthberttelevision film (archive footage)

Television work (excluding television films)

1957 Studio One teleplay: First Prize for Murder
1958 Kraft Television Theatre teleplay: Presumption of Innocence
Decoy Taffyone episode: "Deadly Corridor"
DuPont Show of the Month teleplay: The Count of Monte Cristo
1959Aldonza/Dulcinea teleplay: I, Don Quixote
Play of the Week Mordeen Saul / Woman teleplays: Burning Bright ; Medea
The United States Steel Hour Vera Brandon teleplay: The Hours Before Dawn
1961 Play of the Week teleplays: No Exit ; The Indifferent Lover
Ben Casey Phyllis Andersone episode: "I Remember a Lemon Tree"
1962 The Eleventh Hour Joanne Novakone episode: "I Don't Belong in a White-Painted House"
The Virginian Celia Amesone episode: "The Executioners"
The Nurses Grace Miloone episode: "Fly, Shadow"
1963 The United States Steel Hour Francie Broderick teleplay: Night Run to the West
DuPont Show of the Month Karen Holt teleplay: Something to Hide
1964 East Side/West Side Shirleyone episode: "Nothing but the Half Truth"
1965 Dr. Kildare Eleanor Markhamone episode: "All Brides Should Be Beautiful"
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Nurse Ellen Hatchone episode: "Night Fever"
1966 The F.B.I. Amy Doucetteone episode: "The Baby Sitter"
The Big Valley Annie Mortonone episode: "A Day of Terror"
1971 ITV Sunday Night Theatre Mrs. Franz teleplay: The Price
Hallmark Hall of Fame
1972Molly Joyce teleplay: The Hands of Cormac Joyce
1973 Wide World Mystery Margery Landingone episode: "A Prowler in the Heart"
1979 Studs Lonigan Mary Lonigan miniseries
1982 Quincy, M.E. Dr. Barbara Ludowone episode: "For Love of Joshua"
The Blue and the Gray Maggie Geyser miniseries
1983 Great Performances Red Queen teleplay: Alice in Wonderland
1984 Finder of Lost Loves Rachel Greenone episode: "Echoes"
The Love Boat Maudone episode: "Welcome Aboard: Part 1 and 2"
1985 A.D. Antonia miniseries
1988 The Twilight Zone Alley Parkerone episode: "There Was an Old Woman"
1989 Moonlighting Betty Russellone episode: "Take My Wife, for Example"
1989–1990 Murphy Brown Avery Brown Sr.three episodes:
-"Brown Like Me: Part 1 and Part II" (1989)
-"Mama Said" (1989)
-"Bob & Murphy & Ted & Avery (1990)
1990–1992 Road to Avonlea Marilla Cuthbertfour episodes:
- "Of Corsets and Secrets and True, True Love"
-"The Materializing of Duncan McTavish"
-"The Quarantine at Alexander Abraham's" and "Old Friends New Wounds (Marilla's Death)"


1952 Desire Under the Elms Neighbor
1956 Tamburlaine the Great Virgin of Memphis / Turkish Concubine
1957–1958 The Country Wife Mrs. Squeamish
1960 Caligula Caesonia
1960–1961 All the Way Home Mary Follet
1962Great Day in the MorningPhoebe Flaherty
1963–1964 The Ballad of the Sad Café Miss Amelia Evans
1967–1968 More Stately Mansions Sara
1970 The Good Woman of Setzuan Shen Te
1971 All Over The Mistress
1972 Mourning Becomes Electra Christine Mannon
1973–1974 A Moon for the Misbegotten Josie Hogan
1976 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Martha
1977–1978An Almost Perfect PersonIrene Porter
1982The Queen and the RebelsArgia
1983–1984 You Can't Take It with You Olga
1988 Long Day's Journey into Night Mary Cavan Tyrone
Ah, Wilderness! Essie Miller
1989–1990 Love Letters Melissa Gardner


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  1. 1 2 3 Dewhurst, Colleen; Viola, Tom (1997). Colleen Dewhurst — Her Autobiography. Scribner; ISBN   978-0-684-80701-0
  2. Colleen Dewhurst genealogy
  3. "Show Business: Gorgeous Gael". Time. January 21, 1974. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  4. Colleen Dewhurst profile, Yahoo! Movies; accessed February 8, 2014.
  5. Susan Ware (editor), Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary Completing the Twentieth Century, Volume 5, pages 174-175 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press, 2004). ISBN   9780674014886
  6. The New York Times, March 3, 1981 - 26 Elected to the Theater Hall of Fame