Eileen Heckart

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Eileen Heckart
Eileen Heckart.jpg
Eileen Heckart in Bus Stop (1956)
Born
Anna Eileen Herbert

(1919-03-29)March 29, 1919
DiedDecember 31, 2001(2001-12-31) (aged 82)
OccupationActress
Years active1943–2000
Spouse(s)
John Harrison Yankee, Jr.(m. 1942–1997)

Eileen Heckart (born Anna Eileen Herbert, March 29, 1919 – December 31, 2001) was an American actress of film, stage, and television. Primarily known as a character actress, her career spanned nearly 60 years. She first became known for her role as schoolteacher Rosemary Sydney in the original 1953 cast of William Inge's play Picnic on Broadway. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as the overprotective mother of a blind adult son in Butterflies Are Free (1972), a role she originated on Broadway before playing it in the film.

William Inge American author

William Motter Inge was an American playwright and novelist, whose works typically feature solitary protagonists encumbered with strained sexual relations. In the early 1950s, he had a string of memorable Broadway productions, including Picnic, which earned him a Pulitzer Prize. With his portraits of small-town life and settings rooted in the American heartland, Inge became known as the "Playwright of the Midwest."

<i>Picnic</i> (play) play written by William Inge

Picnic is a 1953 play by William Inge. The play was premiered at the Music Box Theatre, Broadway, on 19 February 1953 in a Theatre Guild production, directed by Joshua Logan, which ran for 477 performances.

Broadway theatre class of professional theater presented in New York City, New York, USA

Broadway theatre, commonly known as Broadway, refers to the theatrical performances presented in the 41 professional theatres each with 500 or more seats located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Along with London's West End theatre, Broadway theatre is widely considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world.

Contents

She often played mothers, including Rocky Graziano's mother in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956); the mother of a murdered child in The Bad Seed (1956); the elderly mother of an estranged son in the PBS production of the one-act play Save Me a Place at Forest Lawn (1966); the mother of reporter Jack Stein on the 1990s television sitcom Love & War ; the mother of two separate characters on the daytime soap opera One Life to Live in the 1980s and 1990s; and the meddling mother of a jilted wife (played by Diane Keaton) in The First Wives Club (1996), her last film role. She also had a recurring role on the 1970s sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show as Mary's Aunt Flo Meredith, a famous woman reporter, which she repeated on the subsequent spin-off series, Lou Grant .

Rocky Graziano American boxer

Thomas Rocco Barbella, better known as Rocky Graziano, was an American professional boxer who held the World Middleweight title. Graziano is considered one of the greatest knockout artists in boxing history, often displaying the capacity to take his opponent out with a single punch. He was ranked 23rd on The Ring magazine list of the greatest punchers of all time. He fought many of the best middleweights of the era including Sugar Ray Robinson. His turbulent and violent life story was the basis of the 1956 Oscar-winning drama film, Somebody Up There Likes Me, based on his 1955 autobiography of the same title.

<i>Somebody Up There Likes Me</i> (1956 film) 1956 film by Robert Wise

Somebody Up There Likes Me is a 1956 American drama film based on the life of middleweight boxing legend Rocky Graziano. Joseph Ruttenberg was awarded a 1956 Oscar in the category of Best Cinematography. The film also won the Oscar for Best Art Direction. It was directed by Robert Wise.

<i>The Bad Seed</i> (1956 film) 1956 American film by Mervyn LeRoy

The Bad Seed is a 1956 American psychological horror-thriller film with elements of melodrama and film noir, directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starring Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Henry Jones, and Eileen Heckart.

In addition to her Academy Award, she also won two Emmy Awards for Save Me a Place at Forest Lawn and Love & War, and a Golden Globe Award for The Bad Seed. She also received a special Tony Award for lifetime achievement in 2000, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She made her final acting appearance in 2000 at age 80 in an off-Broadway production, The Waverly Gallery, in which she played the leading role of an elderly grandmother with Alzheimer's disease. [1] [2]

Golden Globe Award award of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

The Golden Globe Awards are accolades bestowed by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association beginning in January 1944, recognizing excellence in film and television, both domestic and foreign.

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 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.

Hollywood Walk of Fame Entertainment hall of fame in Hollywood, Los Angeles

The Hollywood Walk of Fame comprises more than 2,600 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California. The stars are permanent public monuments to achievement in the entertainment industry, bearing the names of a mix of musicians, actors, directors, producers, musical and theatrical groups, fictional characters, and others. The Walk of Fame is administered by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and maintained by the self-financing Hollywood Historic Trust. It is a popular tourist destination, with a reported 10 million visitors in 2003. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce holds trademark rights to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Early life

Heckart was born in Columbus, Ohio, the daughter of Esther Stark, who wed Leo Herbert (not the child's father) at her own mother's insistence so her child would not be born with the stigma of illegitimacy. The child was soon after legally adopted by her maternal grandmother's wealthy second husband, J.W. Heckart, the surname by which she would be known her entire life. [3] She had two stepsisters, Anne and Marilyn. She graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.A. in drama. [1] . She additionally studied drama at HB Studio [4] in New York City.

Columbus, Ohio Capital of Ohio

Columbus is the state capital of and the most populous city in the U.S. state of Ohio. With a population of 879,170 as of 2017 estimates, it is the 14th-most populous city in the United States and one of the fastest growing large cities in the nation. This makes Columbus the third-most populous state capital in the US and the second-most populous city in the Midwest. It is the core city of the Columbus, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses ten counties. With a population of 2,078,725, it is Ohio's second-largest metropolitan area.

A Bachelor of Arts is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus should not be confused with baccalaureatus, which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in some countries.

Drama artwork intended for performance, formal type of literature

Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance: a play, opera, mime, ballet, etc, performed in a theatre, or on radio or television. Considered as a genre of poetry in general, the dramatic mode has been contrasted with the epic and the lyrical modes ever since Aristotle's Poetics —the earliest work of dramatic theory.

Career

Stage

Heckart began her Broadway career as the assistant stage manager and an understudy for The Voice of the Turtle in 1943. Her many credits include Picnic , The Bad Seed , A View from the Bridge , A Memory of Two Mondays , The Dark at the Top of the Stairs , A Family Affair , And Things That Go Bump in the Night , Barefoot in the Park , Butterflies Are Free , You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running , and The Cemetery Club .

The Voice of the Turtle is a comedic Broadway play by John William Van Druten dealing with the challenges of the single life in New York City during World War II. Controversial in its time, The Voice of the Turtle explores the sexual struggles of Sally Middleton, a young woman attempting to reconcile her childhood teachings on the importance of chastity with her newfound affection for Bill Page. The play derives its name from a verse in the Song of Solomon in the Bible, which reads "The voice of the turtle [as in turtle dove] is heard in our land." On December 8, 1943, the show opened at the Morosco Theatre and ran for 1,557 performances, making it the 51st longest-running show and the 9th longest-running play in Broadway history. In 1947, the stage play was adapted into a film of the same name starring Ronald Reagan, Eleanor Parker, Eve Arden, and Wayne Morris.

The Bad Seed is a 1954 play by American playwright Maxwell Anderson, adapted from the novel of the same name by American writer William March.

<i>A View from the Bridge</i> play written by Arthur Miller

A View from the Bridge is a play by American playwright Arthur Miller. It was first staged on September 29, 1955, as a one-act verse drama with A Memory of Two Mondays at the Coronet Theatre on Broadway. The run was unsuccessful, and Miller subsequently revised the play to contain two acts; this version is the one with which audiences are most familiar. The two-act version premiered in the New Watergate theatre club in London's West End under the direction of Peter Brook on October 11, 1956.

In 2000, at age 81, she appeared off-Broadway in Kenneth Lonergan's The Waverly Gallery , receiving more awards for a single performance in a single season than any actress in theatre history, [ citation needed ] including the Drama Desk Award, the Lucille Lortel Award, the Drama League Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award. That same year, she was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame and received an honorary Tony Award for lifetime achievement.

Kenneth Lonergan American film director and writer

Kenneth Lonergan is an American film director, playwright, and screenwriter. He is best known for co-writing Gangs of New York (2002), and for writing and directing You Can Count On Me (2000), Margaret (2011), and Manchester by the Sea (2016). Lonergan earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Director for Manchester by the Sea, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for You Can Count On Me, Gangs of New York, and Manchester by the Sea, winning for the latter at the 89th Academy Awards. He also won the BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay for Manchester by the Sea at the 70th British Academy Film Awards.

The Waverly Gallery is a play by Kenneth Lonergan. It is considered a "memory play". The show, first produced Off-Broadway in 2000, follows a grandson watching his grandmother slowly die from Alzheimer's disease. The play was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2001.

Other awards include the 1953 Theatre World Award for Picnic . Her nominations include Tony Award nominations for Butterflies Are Free , Invitation to a March, and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs . She was granted three honorary doctorates by Sacred Heart University, Niagara University and Ohio State University. [5] [ citation needed ]

Film and television

Heckart won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in the 1972 movie adaptation of Butterflies Are Free and was nominated in 1956 for her performance as the bereaved, besotted Mrs. Daigle in The Bad Seed , both of which were roles Heckart had originated on Broadway. She also appeared as a Vietnam War widow in the Clint Eastwood film, Heartbreak Ridge . She played Diane Keaton's meddling mother in the 1996 comedy film The First Wives Club . Heckert appeared in "The Hiding Place (1976 film)" as a nurse working inside the concentration camp.

On television, Heckart had starring roles in The Five Mrs. Buchanans , Out of the Blue , Partners in Crime , and Backstairs at the White House (Emmy nomination as Eleanor Roosevelt). In 1994, she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her appearance as Rose Stein on Love & War . Her other guest spots included The Fugitive (where she appeared in three episodes as a nun, "Sister Veronica"), The Mary Tyler Moore Show (two Emmy nominations as journalist Flo Meredith, a role she carried over to a guest appearance on MTM's spinoff Lou Grant ), Love Story , Rhoda , Alice , Murder One , Hawaii Five-O , Gunsmoke , Cybill , The Cosby Show (one Emmy nomination as Mrs. Hickson), and many others. [6]

Heckart played two unrelated characters on the daytime soap opera One Life to Live . During the 1980s, she played Ruth Perkins, the mother of Allison Perkins, who had kidnapped the newborn baby of heroine Vicky Lord Buchanan under orders from phony evangelist and mastermind criminal Mitch Laurence. During the early 1990s, she played the role of Wilma Bern, mother of upstate Pennsylvania mob boss Carlo Hesser and his meek twin, Mortimer Bern. She appeared in the 1954 NBC legal drama Justice , based on case files of New York's Legal Aid Society. [7] She appeared in an episode of the NBC medical drama about psychiatry, The Eleventh Hour , "There Should Be an Outfit Called 'Families Anonymous!'" (1963).

Personal life

Heckart was married to John Harrison Yankee, Jr. for 55 years from 1942 until his death in 1997. Her son Luke Yankee is the author of her 2006 biography, Just Outside the Spotlight: Growing Up with Eileen Heckart.

Heckart was a Democrat who personally met President Lyndon B. Johnson at The White House in 1967. [8]

Death

On December 31, 2001, Heckart died of lung cancer at her home in Norwalk, Connecticut at the age of 82. [9] She was cremated with her ashes scattered outside the Music Box Theatre in Manhattan, New York. [10]

Legacy

The Eileen Heckart Collection was established at Ohio State University's Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute, with her notes, copies of scripts, and personal papers. In 2005, the Eileen Heckart Drama for Seniors Competition was established in her memory by Ohio State's Department of Theatre. Her sons also established a scholarship at Ohio State in her name.

Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Heckart has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6162 Hollywood Blvd.

Filmography

Films
YearTitleRoleNotes
1956 Miracle in the Rain Grace Ullman
1956 Somebody Up There Likes Me Ma Barbella
1956 Bus Stop Vera
1956 The Bad Seed Hortense Daigle Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1958 Hot Spell Alma's Friend
1960 Heller in Pink Tights Mrs. Lorna Hathaway
1963 My Six Loves Ethel
1967 Up the Down Staircase Henrietta Pastorfield
1968 No Way to Treat a Lady Mrs. Brummel
1969 The Tree Sally Dunning
1972 Butterflies Are Free Mrs. Baker Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1974 Zandy's Bride Ma Allan
1975 The Hiding Place Katje
1976 Burnt Offerings Roz Allardyce
1983 Trauma Center Amy Decker R.N.
1986 Seize the Day Funeral Woman No. 1
1986 Heartbreak Ridge Little Mary Jackson
1994 The 5 Mrs. Buchanans Emma Buchanan
1994 Ultimate Betrayal Sarah McNeil
1996 The First Wives Club Catherine MacDuggan National Board of Review Award for Best Cast

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 Pogrebin, Robin (January 2, 2002). "Eileen Heckart, Oscar-Winning Actress, Is Dead at 82". The New York Times . Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  2. Jones, Kenneth; Simonson, Robert (January 1, 2002). "Eileen Heckart, Gravel-Voiced Actress of 'Bad Seed' and 'Waverly Gallery', Dead at 82". Playbill . New York City . Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  3. Yankee, Luke (May 1, 2006). Just Outside the Spotlight: Growing Up with Eileen Heckart. BackStage Books. p. 16. ISBN   978-0823078882 . Retrieved September 24, 2017. On March 29, 1919, Anna Eileen Herbert was born, and her surname was quickly changed to Heckart.
  4. HB Studio Alumni
  5. "Eileen Heckart Tony Awards Info". www.broadwayworld.com. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  6. "Awards Search: Eileen Heckart". Emmys.com. Television Academy . Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  7. "Justice". Classic TV Archive. Archived from the original on October 8, 2011. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  8. Yankee, Luke (2006). Just Outside the Spotlight: Growing Up with Eileen Heckart. ISBN   9780823078882.
  9. Costagregni, Susie (June 24, 2006). "Director grabs a coffee before daughter's wedding". The Advocate. p. A2.
  10. Wilson, Scott (September 16, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons (3rd ed.). McFarland. ISBN   9781476625997.