Colleen Dewhurst

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Colleen Dewhurst
Colleen Dewhurst.JPG
Born(1924-06-03)June 3, 1924
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
DiedAugust 22, 1991(1991-08-22) (aged 67)
South Salem, New York, U.S.
OccupationFilm, stage, television and voice actress
Years active1952–91
Spouse(s)James Vickery (1947–60; divorced)
George C. Scott (1960–65; divorced); 2 children
George C. Scott (1967–72; divorced)
Partner(s)Ken Marsolais (1975–91; her death)
ChildrenAlexander Scott (born 1960)
Campbell Scott (born 1961)
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Colleen Dewhurst
Colleen Dewhurst.JPG
Born(1924-06-03)June 3, 1924
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
DiedAugust 22, 1991(1991-08-22) (aged 67)
South Salem, New York, U.S.
OccupationFilm, stage, television and voice actress
Years active1952–91
Spouse(s)James Vickery (1947–60; divorced)
George C. Scott (1960–65; divorced); 2 children
George C. Scott (1967–72; divorced)
Partner(s)Ken Marsolais (1975–91; her death)
ChildrenAlexander Scott (born 1960)
Campbell Scott (born 1961)

Colleen Rose Dewhurst (June 3, 1924 – August 22, 1991) was a Canadian-American actress known most for theatre roles, and for a while as "the Queen of Off-Broadway." In her autobiography, Dewhurst wrote: "I had moved so quickly from one Off-Broadway production to the next that I was known, at one point, as the 'Queen of Off-Broadway'. This title was not due to my brilliance but rather because most of the plays I was in closed after a run of anywhere from one night to two weeks. I would then move immediately into another."[1] She was a renowned interpreter of the works of Eugene O’Neill on the stage, and her career also encompassed film, early dramas on live television, and Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival. One of her last roles was playing Marilla Cuthbert in the Kevin Sullivan television adaptations of the Anne of Green Gables series and her reprisal of the role in the subsequent TV series Road to Avonlea (marketed as Avonlea in the USA).

Early life[edit]

Dewhurst was born in Montreal, Quebec, the only child of Ferdinand Augustus "Fred" Dewhurst, owner of a chain of confectionery stores, and his wife, Frances (née Woods) Dewhurst, a homemaker, whose father had been a "well-known athlete in Canada, where he had played football with the Ottawa Rough Riders".[2] The family naturalized as U.S. citizens before 1940. Colleen's mother was a Christian Scientist, which faith Colleen would also embrace.[3]

The Dewhursts moved to Massachusetts in 1928 or 1929, staying in Boston, Dorchester, Auburndale, and West Newton. Later they moved to New York City, and then to Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. She attended Whitefish Bay High School for her first two years of high school, moved to Shorewood High School for her junior year, and finally graduated from Riverside High School in Milwaukee in 1942. It was around this time that her parents separated. Dewhurst went on to attend Milwaukee-Downer College for two years before moving to New York City to pursue an acting career.[4]


One of Dewhurst's most significant stage roles was in the 1974 Broadway revival of O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten as Josie Hogan, for which she won a Tony Award. She previously won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in 1961 for All the Way Home. She later played Katharina in a 1956 production of Taming of the Shrew for Joseph Papp. She (as recounted in her posthumous obituary in collaboration with Tom Viola) wrote:

With Brooks Atkinson's blessing, our world changed overnight. Suddenly in our audience of neighbors in T-shirts and jeans appeared men in white shirts, jackets and ties, and ladies in summer dresses. We were in a hit that would have a positive effect on my career, as well as Joe's, but I missed the shouting.[1]

She played Shakespeare's Cleopatra and Lady Macbeth for Papp and, years later, Gertrude in a production of Hamlet at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. Dewhurst and George C. Scott met while working together in 1958, in Children of Darkness, while they were both married to other people.

She appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Hour in Night Fever in 1965 and with Ingrid Bergman in More Stately Mansions on Broadway in 1967. Quintero directed her in O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night and Mourning Becomes Electra. She appeared in Edward Albee's adaptation of Carson McCullers' Ballad of the Sad Cafe, and as Martha in a Broadway revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, opposite Ben Gazzara which Albee directed.

Dewhurst (right) guest-starring on The Big Valley in 1966 with Barbara Stanwyck (left)

She appeared in 1962 as Joanne Novak in the episode "I Don't Belong in a White-Painted House" in NBC's medical drama, The Eleventh Hour, starring Wendell Corey and Jack Ging.[5] Dewhurst appeared opposite her then-husband, Scott, in a 1971 television adaptation of Arthur Miller's The Price, on Hallmark Hall of Fame, an anthology series, and there is another television recording of them together when she played Elizabeth Proctor to his unfaithful John in Miller's The Crucible (with Tuesday Weld. In 1977, Woody Allen cast her in his film Annie Hall as Annie's mother.

In 1972 she played a madam, Mrs. Kate Collingwood, in The Cowboys (1972), which starred John Wayne. In 1985, she played the role of Marilla Cuthbert in Kevin Sullivan's adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery's novel Anne of Green Gables, and reprised the role in 1987's Anne of Avonlea (also known as Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel), and in several episodes of Kevin Sullivan's Road to Avonlea. Dewhurst died before the character of Marilla could be written out and her final scenes were picked up off the editing-room floor and pieced together for her death scene. During 1989 and 1990, she appeared in a supporting role on the television series Murphy Brown playing the feisty mother of Candice Bergen's title character; this role earned her two Emmy Awards, the second being awarded posthumously. Dewhurst won a total of two Tony Awards and four Emmy Awards for her stage and television work.

Personal life[edit]

Dewhurst was married to James Vickery from 1947 to 1960. She married and divorced George C. Scott twice. They had two sons, Alexander Scott and actor Campbell Scott; she co-starred with Campbell in Dying Young (1991), one of her last performances. During the last years of her life, she lived on a farm in South Salem, New York, with her partner, Ken Marsolais. They also had a summer home on Prince Edward Island, Canada.

She was president of the Actors' Equity Association from 1985 until her death from cervical cancer in 1991. Dewhurst's Christian Science beliefs [6] led to her refusal to countenance any kind of surgical treatment. Maureen Stapleton wrote about Dewhurst:

Colleen looked like a warrior, so people assumed she was the earth mother. But in real life Colleen was not to be let out without a keeper. She couldn't stop herself from taking care of people, which she then did with more care than she took care of herself. Her generosity of spirit was overwhelming and her smile so dazzling that you couldn't pull the fucking reins in on her even if you desperately wanted to and knew damn well that somebody should.[1]

Dewhurst's summer home at Fortune Bridge, Prince Edward Island was built by the playwright Elmer Blaney Harris. It is now a private inn. (August 2008)


Dewhurst died of cervical cancer, age 67, at her South Salem home. She was cremated and her ashes were given to family and friends; no public service was planned. In addition to her sons, she was survived by two grandchildren.


Over the course of her 45-year career, Dewhurst won the 1974 Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre, two Tony Awards, two Obie Awards and two Gemini Awards. In 1989, she won the Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her role in Hitting Home. Of her 13 Emmy Award nominations, she won four. She was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981.[7]

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Films and television movies[edit]

1959The Nun's StoryArchangel Gabriel (Sanatorium)
1960Man on a StringHelen Benson
1961The Foxestelevision film
1962Focustelevision film
1966A Fine MadnessDr. Vera Kropotkin
1967The CrucibleElizabeth Proctortelevision film (adaptation of the play The Crucible)
1971The Last RunMonique
1972The CowboysKate
1973Legend in GraniteMarie Lombarditelevision film
1974Parker Addison, PhilosopherHostesstelevision film
The Music SchoolHostesstelevision film
The Story of Jacob and JosephRebekahtelevision film
1975A Moon for the MisbegottenJosie Hogantelevision film (adaptation of the play A Moon for the Misbegotten)
1977Annie HallMrs. Hall
1978The Third WalkerKate Maclean
Ice CastlesBeulah Smith
1979Silent Victory: The Kitty O'Neil StoryMrs. O'Neiltelevision film
When a Stranger CallsTracy
And Baby Makes SixAnna Kramertelevision film
Mary and Joseph: A Story of FaithElizabethtelevision film
1980Death PenaltyElaine Liptontelevision film
EscapeLily Levinsontelevision film
Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim JonesMrs. Myrtle Kennedytelevision miniseries
The Women's RoomValtelevision film (based on the book The Women's Room)
A Perfect MatchMeg Larsontelevision film
Baby Comes HomeAnna Kramertelevision film
Final AssignmentDr. Valentine Ulanova
TributeGladys Petrelli
1981A Few Days in Weasel CreekAunt Coratelevision film
1982Split Cherry TreeMother
Between Two Brotherstelevision film
1983Sometimes I WonderGrandmatelevision film
The Dead ZoneHenrietta Dodd
1984You Can't Take It with YouGrand Duchess Olga Katrinatelevision film (adaptation of the play You Can't Take It with You)
The Glitter DomeLorna Dillmantelevision film
1985Anne of Green GablesMarilla Cuthberttelevision film
1986Between Two WomenBarbara Pethertontelevision film
Johnny BullMarie Kovacstelevision film
As IsHospice Workertelevision film
The Boy Who Could FlyMrs. Sherman
Sword of GideonGolda Meirtelevision film
1987Hitting HomeJudgetelevision film
BigfootGladys Samcotelevision film
Anne of Avonlea (also known as Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel)Marilla Cuthberttelevision film
1989Those She Left BehindMargaret Pagetelevision film
Termini StationMolly Dushane
1990The Exorcist IIIPazuzu (voice)uncredited
Woman in the Wind
KaleidoscopeMargarettelevision film
Lantern HillElizabethtelevision film
1991Dying YoungEstelle Whittier
Bed & BreakfastRuth

2000 Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story" as Marrila Cuthbert in flashback 2008 Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning as Marrila Cuthbert in non spoken flashback

Television work (excluding television films)[edit]

1957Studio Oneteleplay: First Prize for Murder
1958Kraft Television Theatreteleplay: Presumption of Innocence
DecoyTaffyone episode: "Deadly Corridor"
The DuPont Show of the Monthteleplay The Count of Monte Cristo
1959Aldonza/Dulcineateleplay: I, Don Quixote
Play of the WeekMordeen Saul / Womanteleplays: Burning Bright; Medea
The United States Steel HourVera Brandonteleplay: The Hours Before Dawn
1961Play of the Weekteleplays" No Exit; The Indifferent Lover
Ben CaseyPhyllis Andersone episode: "I Remember a Lemon Tree"
1962The Eleventh HourJoanne Novakone episode: "I Don't Belong in a White-Painted House"
The VirginianCelia Amesone episode: "The Executioners"
The NursesGrace Miloone episode: "Fly, Shadow"
1963The United States Steel HourFrancie Broderickteleplay: Night Run to the West
The DuPont Show of the MonthKaren Holtteleplay: Something to Hide
1964East Side/West SideShirleyone episode: "Nothing but the Half Truth"
1965Dr. KildareEleanor Markhamone episode: "All Brides Should Be Beautiful"
The Alfred Hitchcock HourNurse Ellen Hatchone episode: "Night Fever"
1966The F.B.I.Amy Doucetteone episode: "The Baby Sitter"
The Big ValleyAnnie Mortonone episode: "A Day of Terror"
1971ITV Saturday Night TheatreMrs. Franzteleplay: The Price
Hallmark Hall of Fame
1972Molly Joyceteleplay: The Hands of Cormac Joyce
1973Wide World MysteryMargery Landingone episode: "A Prowler in the Heart"
1979Studs LoniganMary Loniganminiseries
1982Quincy, M.E.Dr. Barbara Ludowone episode: "For Love of Joshua"
The Blue and the GrayMaggie Geyserminiseries
1983Great PerformancesRed Queenteleplay: Alice in Wonderland
1984Finder of Lost LovesRachel Greenone episode: "Echoes"
The Love BoatMaudone episode: "My Mother, My Chaperone/The Present/The Death and Life of Sir Alfred Demerest/Welcome Aboard: Part 1 and Part 2"
1988The Twilight ZoneAlley Parkerone episode: "There Was an Old Woman"
1989MoonlightingBetty Russellone episode: "Take My Wife, for Example"
1989–1990Murphy BrownAvery Brown Sr.three episodes:
-"Brown Like Me: Part 1 and Part II" (1989)
-"Mama Said" (1989)
-"Bob & Murphy & Ted & Avery (1990)
1990- 1992Road to AvonleaMarilla Cuthbertfour episodes:
- "Of Corsets and Secrets and True, True Love"
-"The Materializing of Duncan McTavish"
-"The Quarantine at Alexander Abraham's" and "Old Friends New Wounds (Marrila's Death)"


1952Desire Under the ElmsNeighbor
1956Tamburlaine the GreatVirgin of Memphis / Turkish Concubine
1957–1958The Country WifeMrs. Squeamish
1960–1961All the Way HomeMary Follet
1962Great Day in the MorningPhoebe Flaherty
1963–1964The Ballad of the Sad CafeMiss Amelia Evans
1967–1968More Stately MansionsSara
1970The Good Woman of SetzuanShen Te
1971All OverThe Mistress
1972Mourning Becomes ElectraChristine Mannon
1973–1974A Moon for the MisbegottenJosie Hogan
1976Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?Martha
1977–1978An Almost Perfect PersonIrene Porter
1982The Queen and the RebelsArgia
1983–1984You Can't Take It with YouOlga
1988Long Day's Journey into NightMary Cavan Tyrone
Ah, Wilderness!Essie Miller
1989–1990Love LettersMelissa Gardner



  1. ^ a b c Dewhurst, Colleen; Viola, Tom (1997). Colleen Dewhurst — Her Autobiography. Scribner; ISBN 978-0-684-80701-0
  2. ^ Colleen Dewhurst genealogy
  3. ^ "Show Business: Gorgeous Gael". Time. January 21, 1974. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  4. ^ Colleen Dewhurst profile, Yahoo! Movies profile; accessed February 8, 2014.
  5. ^ "Colleen Dewhurst". Retrieved December 30, 2008. 
  6. ^ Susan Ware (editor), Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary Completing the Twentieth Century, Volume 5, pages 174-175 (Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press, 2004). ISBN 9780674014886
  7. ^ The New York Times, March 3, 1981 - 26 Elected to the Theater Hall of Fame

External links[edit]