Beatrice Straight

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Beatrice Straight
Beatrice Straight.jpg
BornBeatrice Whitney Straight
(1914-08-02)August 2, 1914
Old Westbury, New York
DiedApril 7, 2001(2001-04-07) (aged 86)
Los Angeles, California
OccupationActress
Years active1939–1991
Spouse(s)Louis Dolivet (div. 1949)
Peter Cookson (1949-1990)
 
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Beatrice Straight
Beatrice Straight.jpg
BornBeatrice Whitney Straight
(1914-08-02)August 2, 1914
Old Westbury, New York
DiedApril 7, 2001(2001-04-07) (aged 86)
Los Angeles, California
OccupationActress
Years active1939–1991
Spouse(s)Louis Dolivet (div. 1949)
Peter Cookson (1949-1990)

Beatrice Whitney Straight (August 2, 1914 – April 7, 2001) was an American theatre, film, and television actress. In her role in the 1976 film Network, she was on screen for five minutes and forty seconds, the shortest performance ever to win an Academy Award for acting, in this case for best supporting actress. She also received an Emmy nomination for her role in The Dain Curse. Straight can also be recognized as Dr. Lesh in Poltergeist.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Old Westbury, New York, Straight was the daughter of investment banker Willard Dickerman Straight and Dorothy Payne Whitney. Her maternal grandfather was political leader and financier William Collins Whitney. She was four years old when her father died in France of influenza during the great epidemic while serving with the US Army during World War I.

Following her mother's remarriage to British agronomist Leonard K. Elmhirst in 1925, the family moved to England. It was there that Straight was educated and began acting in amateur theater productions.

Returning to the United States, she made her Broadway debut in 1939 in the play The Possessed. Most of her theatre work was in the classics, including Twelfth Night (1941), Macbeth, and The Crucible (1953), for which she won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play.

From its inception, Straight was a member of the Actors Studio, attending the class conducted three times weekly by founding member Robert Lewis; her classmates included Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Jerome Robbins, Sidney Lumet, and about 20 others.[1]

Straight was active in the early days of television, appearing in anthology series such as Armstrong Circle Theatre, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Kraft Television Theatre, Studio One, The United States Steel Hour, Playhouse 90, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents and dramatic series like Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, The Defenders, Route 66, Mission: Impossible, and St. Elsewhere.

Straight worked infrequently in film, and is remembered best for her role as a devastated wife confronting husband William Holden's infidelity in Network (1976). She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance which, at five minutes and forty seconds, remains the shortest ever to win an Oscar.[2]

Further film and television performances include the role of Hippolyta in the Wonder Woman series, and Marion Hillyard, the icy, controlling mother of Stephen Collins in The Promise. She also played the role of the paranormal investigator Dr. Martha Lesh in the film Poltergeist (1982), the most widely seen role of her film career.

Personal life[edit]

Straight was married twice, first to Frenchman Louis Dolivet, a left-wing activist who became editor of United Nations World magazine and later a film producer. They divorced in 1949, and she immediately married film and Broadway actor/producer Peter Cookson, with whom she had two sons.

Death[edit]

Straight reportedly suffered from Alzheimer's disease in her last years. She died from pneumonia in Los Angeles at age eighty-six. Her interment was at William Henry Lee Memorial Cemetery in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

Filmography[edit]

Films and roles
TitleYearRoleNotes
Phone Call from a Stranger1952Claire Fortness
Silken Affair, TheThe Silken Affair1956Theora
Patterns1956Nancy Staples
Nun's Story, TheThe Nun's Story1959Mother Christophe (Sanatorium)
Young Lovers, TheThe Young Lovers1959Mrs. Burns
Garden Party, TheThe Garden Party1973
Network1976Louise SchumacherAcademy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Bloodline1979Kate Erling
Promise, TheThe Promise1979Marion Hillyard
Formula, TheThe Formula1980Kay Neeley
Endless Love1981Rose Axelrod
Poltergeist1982Dr. Lesh
Two of a Kind1983Ruth
Chiller1985Marion Creighton
Robert Kennedy & His Times1985Rose Kennedy
Power1986Claire Hastings
Deceived1991Adrienne's Mother

Television[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Robert Lewis (1984, 1996). "Actors Studio, 1947". Slings and Arrows: Theater in My Life. New York: Applause Books. p. 183. ISBN 1-55783-244-7. "At the end of the summer, on Gadget's return from Hollywood, we settled the roster of actors for our two classes in what we called the Actors Studio - using the word 'studio' as we had when we named our workshop in the Group, the Group Theatre Studio... My group, meeting three times a week, consisted of Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Maureen Stapleton, Eli Wallach, Mildred Dunnock, Jerome Robbins, Herbert Berghof, Tom Ewell, John Forsythe, Anne Jackson, Sidney Lumet, Kevin McCarthy, Karl Malden, E.G. Marshall, Patricia Neal, Beatrice Straight, David Wayne, and - well, I don't want to drop names, so I'll stop there. In all, there were about fifty." 
  2. ^ Tim Dirks (20 May 2008). "Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor". filmsite.org. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 

External links[edit]