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Maureen Stapleton

Maureen StapletonAKA Lois Maureen Stapleton

Born: 21-Jun-1925
Birthplace: Troy, NY
Died: 13-Mar-2006
Location of death: Lenox, MA
Cause of death: Illness
Remains: Buried, St. Mary's Cemetery, Troy, NY

Gender: Female
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Actor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Won an Oscar for playing Emma Goldman

Maureen Stapleton's life has been plagued with numerous phobias, including a deep fear that she would be shot while performing on stage. To cope, and to make aiming difficult for potential assassins, she developed the habit of walking all over the stage during performances, which made every Stapleton stage performance unique but also drove her fellow actors batty. She worked mostly as a stage actress, and had a long string of successes on Broadway. She played Serafina in the Broadway premiere of Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo, and she starred as Lady Torrance in Williams' Orpheus Descending. She won Tonys in 1951 for The Rose Tattoo and 1971 for The Gingerbread Lady, and had four other nominations.

She studied at the Actors Studio, and became friends with Marilyn Monroe, who was only one year younger than Stapleton. She was impressed with Monroe's talent, and always thought it was a shame that Monroe was rarely allowed to play roles beyond the ditzy blonde. By comparison, Stapleton thought herself lucky: "I never had that problem. People looked at me on stage and said, 'Jesus, that broad better be able to act.'"

She also worked in film and television, but not as often as she could have, due to an intense fear of flying and a fear of railroads. Taken together, these phobias made Hollywood a harrowing destination for Stapleton. She was also a roaring drunk for many years, but conquered alcoholism and wrote about it in her autobiography, Hell of a Life.

She was Oscar-nominated four times, and won in 1981, playing anarchist Emma Goldman in Reds. She won the Golden Globe for her performance in Airport, as mad bomber Van Heflin's worried wife. She won an Emmy in 1967, for Truman Capote's Among the Paths to Eden, in which she went husband-hunting at a cemetery.

She had a long romance with George Abbott, the longtime Broadway director who also wrote or co-wrote such stage stalwarts as Damn Yankees, The Pajama Game, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. She was 43 and he was 81 when their affair started, and ten years later Abbott dropped her for a younger woman.

Though she has often been mistaken for Jean Stapleton, the two actresses are not related.

Father: John Stapleton
Mother: Irene Stapleton
Brother: Jack Stapleton
Husband: Max Allentuck (Broadway stage manager, m. Jul-1949, div. Feb-1959, two children)
Son: Daniel Allentuck
Daughter: Katharine Bambery
Husband: David Rayfiel (screenwriter, m. Jul-1963, div. Jun-1966)
Boyfriend: George Abbott (playwright, affair late 1960s-late 1970s)

    Oscar for Best Supporting Actress 1982 for Reds
    Golden Globe 1971 Best Supporting Actress for Airport
    Emmy 1968 for Among the Paths to Eden (single performance)
    Tony 1951 for The Rose Tattoo
    Theater Hall of Fame 5-Apr-1981
    Hernia Operation
    Irish Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Smoking, Alcoholism, Obesity, Aviophobia

    Broadway: The Golden Age (Apr-2003) · Herself
    Wilbur Falls (4-Sep-1998)
    Addicted to Love (23-May-1997) · Nana
    Trading Mom (13-May-1994)
    The Last Good Time (1994)
    Miss Rose White (26-Apr-1992)
    Passed Away (24-Apr-1992)
    Cocoon: The Return (23-Nov-1988) · Mary Luckett
    Doin' Time on Planet Earth (1988)
    Nuts (20-Nov-1987) · Rose Kirk
    Made in Heaven (6-Nov-1987) · Aunt Lisa
    Sweet Lorraine (8-May-1987)
    Heartburn (25-Jul-1986) · Vera
    The Money Pit (26-Mar-1986) · Estelle
    Cocoon (21-Jun-1985) · Mary Luckett
    Johnny Dangerously (21-Dec-1984) · Mom
    Little Gloria: Happy at Last (24-Oct-1982)
    The Electric Grandmother (17-Jan-1982)
    Reds (3-Dec-1981) · Emma Goldman
    The Fan (15-May-1981)
    On the Right Track (6-Mar-1981)
    The Runner Stumbles (16-Nov-1979)
    Lost and Found (13-Jul-1979)
    Interiors (2-Aug-1978) · Pearl
    The Gathering (4-Dec-1977)
    Queen of the Stardust Ballroom (13-Feb-1975) · Bea Asher
    Tell Me Where It Hurts (12-Mar-1974)
    Plaza Suite (12-May-1971)
    Airport (5-Mar-1970) · Inez Guerrero
    Trilogy (6-Nov-1969)
    Bye Bye Birdie (4-Apr-1963) · Mama Petersen
    A View from the Bridge (19-Jan-1962) · Beatrice Carbone
    The Fugitive Kind (1-Dec-1959) · Vee Talbot
    Lonelyhearts (1958)

Author of books:
A Hell of a Life (1995, memoir, with Jane Scovell)

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