Maureen Stapleton: 1925-2006

Maureen StapletonMaureen Stapleton, the Oscar-winning actress who was revered for her roles on the stage and screen, passed away today in Lenox, Massachusetts, from chronic pulmonary disease. She was 80. Stapleton’s matronly appearance belied a fiery emotional core, one she used to devastating effect in her most recognized dramatic roles. She began her career in the theater, attending the Herbert Berghof Acting School, then the Actor’s Studio which she parlayed into her Broadway debut in nothing less than Burgess Meredith‘s 1946 production of “The Playboy of the Western World.” She appeared in numerous stage productions including Lillian Hellman’s “Toys in the Attic,” and several Tennessee Williams efforts, including “The Rose Tattoo,” for which she won her first Tony in 1951 for her role as Serafina Delle Rose.

Her first film role was no less auspicious and presaged a storied career on film. She received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination in 1958 for her part in Lonelyhearts, opposite another Broadway lion, Montgomery Clift.

She was nominated again for Best Supporting Actress in 1971 for her role as the unsuspecting wife of the despondent bomber in Airport and again in 1978 for her role as Pearl in Woody Allen‘s first “serious” film, the dour Interiors.

She finally won the Oscar for her role as the brusque, radical anarchist Emma Goldman in Warren Beatty‘s Reds.

Her second Tony was awarded to her for her part in Neil Simon‘s “The Gingerbread Lady” in 1971. She also won notice for her television roles, including winning the Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Lead for Among the Paths to Eden and nominations for All the King’s Men, Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, The Gathering, B.L. Styker, Miss Rose White and Road to Avonlea. Stapleton was also notable in Bye, Bye, Birdie, Plaza Suite (with another long-time collaborator, Neil Simon), Johnny Dangerously, and Cocoon.

She is survived by her son, Daniel Allentuck, a daughter, Katharine Bambery, and a brother, Jack Stapleton.

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