Stage Diva and Film Actress Maureen Stapleton dead at age 80
Veteran character actress Maureen Stapleton, an Oscar and Tony winner famed for feisty, down-to-earth stage roles in Tennessee Williams' plays and for such films as "Reds" and "Cocoon," died on Monday at age 80.
Stapleton, whose last big-screen appearance was in the 1997 romantic comedy "Addicted to Love," died of natural causes at her home in Lenox, Massachusetts, said Ned Roche, the head of the Roche Funeral Home there. He said the actress's daughter and son were with her when she died.
Stapleton, known for realistic, decidedly unglamorous roles in a career spanning five decades, won her first Tony for her breakout Broadway performance, originating the blowzy role of Serafina delle Rose in the 1951 production of Williams' "The Rose Tattoo"
It was the first performance in a long association with Williams' work, including memorable roles as Lady Torrance in "Orpheus Descending" and Amanda Wingfield in "The Glass Menagerie" Sidney Lumet's 1960 film "The Fugitive Kind" adapted from "Orpheus Descending," co-starred Stapleton with Marlon Brando and Joanne Woodward.
Stapleton also drew acclaim for her work in two Neil Simon comedies, playing three roles in "Plaza Suite" and winning her second Tony for her 1970 performance in "The Gingerbread Lady."
Stapleton's big-screen turn as anarchist Emma Goldman in Warren Beatty's 1981 film "Reds" earned her an Academy Award as best supporting actress, following three other Oscar-nominated performances in "Lonelyhearts" (1958), "Airport" (1970) and Woody Allen's "Interiors" (1978).
In one of her best remembered late-career film roles, Stapleton played one of the senior citizens bestowed with renewed youthful vigor by aliens in Ron Howard's 1985 fantasy "Cocoon."
An unpretentious performer, Stapleton was never considered a great Hollywood beauty. In contrast to her friend Marilyn Monroe, whose beauty overshadowed her talents as an actress, Stapleton once said of herself: "People looked at me on stage and said, 'Jesus, that broad better be able to act."
One of a handful of performers to win America's "Triple Crown" of acting, Stapleton also scored an Emmy Award for her 1967 television role in "The Paths to Eden."
Last edited by CrossCourt~Rally; Mar 13th, 2006 at 09:56 PM.