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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Remembering Elizabeth Wilson 1921 - 2015

I was lucky enough to see Elizabeth Wilson onstage three times - first in a 1989 Chicago production of A. R. Gurney’s's The Cocktail Hour, then in the 1996 Broadway revival of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance, and finally in the 1999 Broadway production of Noël Coward's Waiting in the Wings. The actress, who died Saturday at age 94, made her Broadway debut with another newcomer, Paul Newman, in 1953's Picnic, and she received a 1972 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in Sticks and Bones. Her other Broadway credits include The Desk Set (1955), The Little Foxes (1967) as Anne Bancroft's standby, Plaza Suite (1968) as Maureen Stapleton's standby, The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild (1972) as Maureen Stapleton's sister-in-law, Uncle Vanya (1973), Threepenny Opera (1976), The Importance of Being Earnest (1977), Morning's at Seven (1980), You Can't Take It With You (1983) and Ah, Wilderness! (1988). She also appeared Off-Broadway in such plays as Eh? (1966) with Dustin Hoffman, Little Murders (1969), Taken in Marriage (1979) with Meryl Streep, and Salonika (1985).

Wilson made her film debut as an uncredited "Woman at Party" in Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious (1946), and she later reprised her stage role as schoolteacher Christine Schoenwalder in the 1955 film adaptation of Picnic. Other cinematic credits include The Goddess (1958), The Tunnel of Love (1958), Happy Anniversary (1959), A Child Is Waiting (1963) with Judy Garland, Hitchcock's The Birds (1963), The Graduate (1967) as Dustin Hoffman's mother, Catch-22 (1970), Little Murders (1971, reprising her stage role), The Day of the Dolphin (1973), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975), The Happy Hooker (1975), 9 to 5 (1980) as office snitch Roz, The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981), Grace Quigley (1984), Regarding Henry (1991), The Addams Family (1991), Quiz Show (1994), and Hyde Park on Hudson (2012) as Bill Murray's mother.

Wilson was a regular on three television series - the 1963-64 CBS drama, East Side/West Side, the 1975-76 CBS sitcom, Doc, and the 1986 CBS drama, Morningstar/Eveningstar. She also played Mrs. Hopewell in two 1966 episodes of the daytime soap opera, Dark Shadows, and she received a 1987 Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Special for Nutcracker: Money, Madness & Murder.

Below you can watch Elizabeth Wilson in a 1963 episode of East Side/West Side, in the 1971 trailer for Little Murders, and on the 1972 Tony Awards (beginning at 1:05:41).

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