Birthplace: Boston, MA
Location of death: Englewood, NJ
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Her father managed the swanky Brookline Country Club near Boston, allowing young Tammy Grimes to attend an exclusive private school and mingle with famous and semi-famous guests at the club. At 16, she starred in a school production of Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth. Wilder himself was in the audience, and reportedly told Grimes after the show, "Young lady, even Tallulah Bankhead [on Broadway] didn't do the things you did to the role."
After college, she quickly made her way to New York, where she studied acting and earned her rent by singing at a cabaret. She was "discovered" when Noel Coward came in for a drink and shelter from the rain, and he was enchanted with her voice. He recommended Grimes for her Broadway debut in his Look After Lulu with Roddy McDowall, and Grimes quickly became a stage star. She won a Tony as Broadway's original The Unsinkable Molly Brown, despite stepping out of character in an early performance to scold a man in the audience who had fallen asleep and begun to snore.
Among her many other plays, she later starred in productions of High Spirits with a young Edward Woodward, California Suite with Leslie Easterbrook, and 42nd Street with Jerry Orbach. She won a second Tony in a 1969 revival of Coward's Private Lives.
By 1964, Grimes coveted the higher pay and easier hours of television. She signed to star in Bewitched, but she had second thoughts, suspecting the show was a surefire flop, and pulled out of the project. Grimes, meanwhile, played a feisty heiress in her own Tammy Grimes Show, a sitcom so bad it was reportedly the first prime time series ever yanked off the air before all filmed episodes had been broadcast.
Grimes also appeared in about 15 films, but never achieved true stardom on the big screen. Her first film was Three Bites of an Apple, a 1967 romantic comedy. Her best remembered movie might be Mr. North, the 1988 adaptation of Wilder's novel.
In 1982, she replaced E. G. Marshall as the host of CBS Radio Mystery Theater.
In 1965, Grimes was slashed with a razor in a drug store shortly after her friendship -- some said romance -- with Sammy Davis, Jr. had been mentioned in the papers. The wound was on her hand, and she was mystified about who did it or why. A few nights later she was mugged and beaten at her doorstep by four white men who pointedly called her "nigger-lover".
She was married for four years to actor Christopher Plummer. Grimes has said they stopped speaking to each other after a few months of marriage, but that they got along much better after their divorce. Their daughter is actress Amanda Plummer.
Father: Luther Nichols Grimes (nightclub manager)
Mother: Eola Niles (Willard) Grimes
Sister: Nancy Lou Grimes
Brother: Luther Nichols Grimes, Jr.
Boyfriend: Marlon Brando (actor, dated in mid-1950s)
Husband: Christopher Plummer (actor, m. 16-Aug-1956, div. 1960, one daughter)
Daughter: Amanda Plummer (actress, b. 23-Mar-1957)
Husband: Jeremy Slate (actor, m. 1966, div. 1967)
Husband: Richard Bell (composer, m. 1971, d. 28-Sep-2005)
High School: Beaver Country Day School, Chestnut Hill, MA (1951)
University: BA English, Stephens College (1953)
Tony 1961 for The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Tony 1970 for Private Lives
Endorsement of Smirnoff Vodka 1964
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Broadway: The Golden Age (Apr-2003) · Herself
High Art (21-Jan-1998) · Vera
A Modern Affair (6-Sep-1996)
Backstreet Justice (21-Sep-1994)
Slaves of New York (17-Mar-1989)
Mr. North (22-Jul-1988)
The Stuff (14-Jun-1985)
No Big Deal (1983)
The Last Unicorn (19-Nov-1982) [VOICE]
Can't Stop the Music (20-Jun-1980)
The Runner Stumbles (16-Nov-1979)
Somebody Killed Her Husband (29-Sep-1978)
'Twas the Night Before Christmas (8-Dec-1974) [VOICE]
Horror at 37,000 Feet (13-Feb-1973)
Play It As It Lays (19-Oct-1972)
Three Bites of the Apple (24-May-1967)
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