Lee Grant

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Lee Grant
Lee Grant Fay 1975.jpg
Grant in 1975
BornLyova Haskell Rosenthal
(1927-10-31) October 31, 1927 (age 87) (disputed)[1][2]
New York, New York, U.S.
OccupationActress and director
Years active1949–2007, 2013
Spouse(s)Arnold Manoff (1951-1960; divorced; 2 children)
Joseph Feury (né Fioretti; 1962-present)
ChildrenDinah Manoff and Tom Manoff
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For other people named Lee Grant, see Lee Grant (disambiguation).
Lee Grant
Lee Grant Fay 1975.jpg
Grant in 1975
BornLyova Haskell Rosenthal
(1927-10-31) October 31, 1927 (age 87) (disputed)[1][2]
New York, New York, U.S.
OccupationActress and director
Years active1949–2007, 2013
Spouse(s)Arnold Manoff (1951-1960; divorced; 2 children)
Joseph Feury (né Fioretti; 1962-present)
ChildrenDinah Manoff and Tom Manoff

Lee Grant is a celebrated American stage, film and television actress, and film director. From 1952 through 1964 she was blacklisted from radio, film, and most television work, but continued working sporadically in the theatre during this time.

She won the Best Actress Award at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival for her role as the shoplifter in the 1951 film version of Detective Story.[3] She won the 1964 Obie Award for Distinguished Performance by an Actress for her performance as Solange in Jean Genet's The Maids. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Felicia Karpf in Shampoo (1975). She has been nominated for the Emmy Award seven times between 1966 through 1993, winning twice. As a documentary film maker, she received the 1986 Directors Guild of America Award, as well as the 1986 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Early life[edit]

Lee Grant was born Lyova Haskell Rosenthal on October 31 (with the year most often cited being 1927) in Manhattan, the only child of Witia (née Haskell), an actress and teacher, and Abraham W. Rosenthal, a realtor and educator. Her father was born in New York, to Polish Jewish immigrants, and her mother was a Russian Jewish immigrant.[4] The family resided at 706 Riverside Drive in the Hamilton Heights area of Manhattan.[5] Her year of birth has been disputed, with different sourcing citing dates between 1925 and 1929.[6][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

She debuted in a show at the Metropolitan Opera, and later joined the American Ballet as an adolescent.[13] She attended Art Students League of New York, Juilliard School of Music, The High School of Music & Art, and George Washington High School, all in New York City. Grant graduated from high school at the age of fourteen, receiving a scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, and studied under Sanford Meisner. She subsequently enrolled in Actors Studio in New York.


Grant had her first stage ballet performance in 1933, when she was six years old, at the Metropolitan Opera House.[14] In 1938, at the age of 11, she was made a member of the American Ballet, under George Balanchine.[14]

As an actress, Grant had her professional stage debut as understudy in Oklahoma in 1944, and in 1948 had her Broadway acting debut in Joy to the World. Grant established herself as a dramatic method actress on and off Broadway, earning praise for her role as a shoplifter in Detective Story, in 1949, with Ralph Bellamy. [15] She made her film debut two years later in the film version (Detective Story), starring Kirk Douglas, receiving her first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination, and winning the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival.[16] She was a regular on the CBS soap opera, Search for Tomorrow in the early 1950s.[3]

In 1951 she gave an impassioned eulogy at the memorial service for actor J. Edward Bromberg, whose early death, she implied, was caused by the stress of being called before House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). After her eulogy was published, she was summoned by the same committee to testify against her husband, playwright Arnold Manoff, but refused. As a result, for the next twelve years, from the age of 24 to 36, her "prime years,"[17] she was blacklisted and unable to work in either television or movies.

Kirk Douglas, who acted with her in Detective Story, recalled that it was director Edward Dmytryk who had first named her husband at the HUAC:

Lee was only a kid, a beautiful young girl with extraordinary talent and a big future. You could see it. She was so good that she earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her very first film role. But because Eddie Dmytryk named her husband, Lee Grant was blacklisted before her film career even had a chance to begin. Of course, she refused to testify about the man to whom she was married, and it took years before anyone would hire her for another picture.[18]

She appeared in a limited number of stage and television shows during these years. In 1953 she played Rose Peabody on the CBS daytime drama, Search for Tomorrow.[14] In the Broadway production of Two for the Seesaw in 1959, she played Gittle Mosca. And in 1963 she won acclaim for her stage performance in the Off-Broadway production of Jean Genet's The Maids.[14]

Grant in 1961

By the time Grant's name was finally removed from the blacklist in the early 1960s, she had since been divorced, remarried, and now had a young daughter, Dinah. Grant immediately tried to reestablish her television and movie career. In her autobiography, she writes:

Dinah was my grail, my constant; nothing and no one could get between us. Dinah and my need to support her financially, morally, viscerally, and my rage at those who had taken twelve working, acting years from my life, were what motivated me.[19]:250

The scars and fears of the blacklist years remained imprinted on her memory and would stay there throughout her career. As late as 2002, she would freeze and go into a "near trance" when anyone asked her about her experiences during the McCarthy period.[20]

Grant's first major achievement, after House Committee on Un-American Activities officially cleared her, was in the 1960s television series Peyton Place, as Stella Chernak, for which she won an Emmy in 1966. In 1967, Grant appeared in an episode of Mission Impossible, portraying the wife of a U.S. diplomat who goes undercover to discredit a rogue diplomat. That same year she played the distraught widow of the murder victim in the Oscar-winning In the Heat of the Night.[3]

She received subsequent Academy Award nominations for the dramas The Landlord (1970) and Voyage of the Damned (1976). Her acting range extended into comedy equally well, notably in several roles as an overbearing mother. In Plaza Suite (1971), a comedy directed by Arthur Hiller and written by Neil Simon, she played the harassed mother of a bride, with Walter Matthau as the father. The film was followed by another comedy role as the mother in Portnoy's Complaint (1972).[3] Also in 1971, she co-starred with Peter Falk on Broadway in Neil Simon's Prisoner of Second Avenue. Simon said that his "first and only choice" for the part was Grant, whom he said was equally at home with dramatists such as Chekhov or Sidney Kingsley, yet could also be "hilariously funny" when the script called for it, as she was able to portray essential honesty in her acting.[21]

Among her most notable roles was as Warren Beatty's older girlfriend in the comedy, Shampoo (1975), for which she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The film received mixed reviews but was Columbia's biggest hit in the studio's 50 year history.[22] After The Landlord (1970), it was the second film that Grant acted in under director Hal Ashby. Critic Pauline Kael, comparing her in both films, notes that Grant "is such a cool-style comedienne that she's in danger of having people say that she's good, as usual."[23] During the filming, however, she did have some serious disagreements with Beatty, who was also the producer, and she nearly quit. During one scene, she wanted to play it in a way she knew was more realistic from a woman's perspective, but Beatty disagreed. After thinking about the scene for a few days, she told director Hal Ashby she couldn't do it his way and was quitting. As she was walking out, Beatty stopped her and asked what was wrong. "I sat down and told him," she said. "He threw up his hands and said, 'Play it your way. What do I know? I'm a man.'"[24]

Despite the success of the film, Grant was feeling less secure in Hollywood as she was now approaching the age of 50. She writes:

I was becoming my own worst enemy as an actor, traumatized onstage and fixated on staying young so I could keep working in film. A woman of a certain age does not play in movies or TV; we're kicked to the side or out. And I was a woman of a certain age, terrified I'd be found out and unemployed again."[19]:213

Actor Bruce Dern, who played alongside her in The Big Town (1987), recalls working with her: "Lee Grant is a fabulous actress. Anytime she works it's a blessing you have her in your movie."[25]

Grant is the only Hollywood actress of her generation to successfully move into directing. She directed the stage play, The Stronger in 1976, written by August Strindberg. In 1980 she directed her first film, Tell Me a Riddle, a story about an aging Jewish couple. She also directed several documentary films, including Down and Out in America (1986) which won the Academy Award for Documentary Feature. That same year she directed Nobody's Child, a TV movie starring Marlo Thomas about a woman confined to a mental institution for 20 years. For her direction, Grant became the first female director to win the Directors Guild of America Award.[citation needed]

Grant at the premiere of F.I.S.T. (April 1978)

In recent years she directed a series of Intimate Portrait episodes for Lifetime Television, that celebrated a diverse range of accomplished women.[3] Admiring her directing and acting skill, actress Sissy Spacek agreed to act in Hard Promises "only to work with Grant", although Grant was later replaced as its director.[26]

In March 1971, Grant appeared in the Columbo episode "Ransom for a Dead Man"', and was nominated for an Emmy as Outstanding Lead Actress - Miniseries or a Movie. Having been nominated for two performances in the same acting category, she received the award for her other Emmy-nominated performance in the television film, The Neon Ceiling. The only other nominee was Colleen Dewhurst; in Grant's acceptance speech, she wryly noted "I must thank Colleen Dewhurst since it takes two of me to equal one of her."[citation needed]

During the 1975-76 television season, she starred in the NBC sitcom Fay, which, to her chagrin, was canceled after eight episodes. She made a guest appearance on Empty Nest, in which her daughter Dinah Manoff co-starred. In 1988, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.[27]

In 1992, she played Dora Cohn, the mother of Roy Cohn, in the biographical made for TV film Citizen Cohn, which garnered her yet another Primetime Emmy Award nomination. In 2001, Lee Grant portrayed Louise Bonner in David Lynch's critically acclaimed Mullholland Drive. From 2004-07, Carlin Glynn, Stephen Lang, and Grant served as co-artistic directors for the Actors Studio.[28]

In 2013, she returned to the stage, after a nearly 40-year-absence, to star in The Gin Game, part of a benefit for improvement programs at the Island Music Guild. Grant played Fonsia Dorsey opposite Frank Buxton as Weller Martin; her daughter Dinah Manoff directed the production.[29]



1951Detective StoryShoplifterBest Actress Award (Cannes Film Festival)
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1953-1954Search for TomorrowRose Peabody
1955Storm FearEdna Rogers
1959Middle of the NightMarilyn
The Blue Angeluncredited
1963The BalconyCarmen
An Affair of the SkinKatherine McCleod
1964Pie in the SkySuzy
The FugitiveMillie Hallopepisode-"Taps for a Dead War"
1965 -
Peyton PlaceStella Chernakappeared in 71 episodes (8/19/1965–3/28/1966)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Drama
1967Divorce American StyleDede Murphy
In the Heat of the NightMrs. Leslie ColbertNominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Valley of the DollsMiriam
The Big ValleyRosie Williams
1968Buona Sera, Mrs. CampbellFritzie Braddock
Judd, for the DefenseKay GouldNominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
1969The Big BounceJoanne
MaroonedCelia Pruett
1970The LandlordJoyce EndersNominated - Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated - Laurel Award for Best Supporting Performance, Female
There Was a Crooked Man...Mrs. Bullard
1971Columbo: Ransom for a Dead ManLeslie WilliamsNominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
The Neon CeilingCarrie MillerPrimetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
The Last Generationarchive footage
Plaza SuiteNorma Hubley
1972Portnoy's ComplaintSophie Portnoy
1974The Internecine ProjectJean Robertson
1975ShampooFelicia KarpfAcademy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Fay (TV series)Fay StewartNominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
1976Voyage of the DamnedLillian RosenNominated - Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1977Airport '77Karen Wallace
The SpellMarilyn Matchett
1978Damien: Omen IIAnn Thorn
The SwarmAnne MacGregor
The Mafu CageEllen
1979When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder?Clarisse Ethridge
1980Little Miss MarkerThe Judge
1981Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon QueenMrs. Lupowitz
1982Visiting HoursDeborah Ballin
1984Billions for BorisSascha Harris
ConstanceMrs. Barr
TeachersDr. Donna Burke
1985Sanford Meisner: The American Theatre's Best Kept SecretHerselfDocumentary
1987The Big TownFerguson Edwards
1991Defending Your LifeLena Foster
1992Something to Live for: The Alison Gertz StoryCarol GertzTV film
Earth and the American DreamNarratorDocumentary
Citizen CohnDora Marcus CohnNominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1996It's My PartyAmalia Stark
The Substance of FireCora Cahn
Under HeatJane
2000Dr. T & the WomenDr. Harper
The Amati GirlsAunt Spendora
2001Mulholland DriveLouise Bonner
2005The Needs of Kim StanleyHerselfDocumentary
Going ShoppingWinnie


1975For the Use of the HallTV film
1976The Strongershort subject
1980Tell Me a Riddle
1981The Willmar 8Documentary
1984A Matter of SexTV film
1985What Sex Am I?Documentary
ABC Afterschool SpecialCindy Eller: A Modern Fairy Tale (TV episode)
1986Nobody's ChildTV film - DGA Award
Down and Out in AmericaDocumentary (also narrator)
1989Staying Together
No Place Like HomeTV film
1994When Women KillDocumentary
Seasons of the HeartTV film
Following Her HeartTV film
ReunionTV film
1997Say It, Fight It, Cure ItTV film
1999Confronting the Crisis: Childcare in AmericaTV film
2000American MastersSidney Poitier: One Bright Light
The Loretta Claiborne StoryTV film
2001The Gun DeadlockTV film
2004BiographyMelanie Griffith
2000–2004Intimate Portrait43 episodes
2005... A Father... A Son... Once Upon a Time in HollywoodTV film


  1. ^ Roberts, Jerry. Encyclopedia of Television Film Directors, Scarecrow Press, 1st edition (June 5, 2009), Amazon Digital Services, Inc; ASIN: B009W3C7E8
  2. ^ Katz, Ephraim. The Film Encyclopedia, Harper Perennial (1998) p. 552 ISBN 0-06-273492-x
  3. ^ a b c d e Lee Grant at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ Profile, forward.com; accessed September 9, 2014.
  5. ^ Lee Grant profile, FilmReference.com; accessed September 9, 2014.
  6. ^ a b The 1930 and 1940 U.S. censuses at Ancestry.com both indicate Grant was born in 1925. The 1930 census (Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1577; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 1027; Image: 588.0; FHL microfilm: 2341312. Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls) gives her age as 4 and 6/12 months in April 1930. The 1940 census (Source Citation: Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2671; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 31-1922. Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. 2012. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls) gives her age as 14 in April 1940 (NOTE: a) the census always requests the age of the individual being enumerated as of his or her last birthday; b) the first name is misspelled, as "Lyniva" in 1930, and, again, as "Lyoua" in 1940.)
  7. ^ Personal details for Lee Grant Manoff, familysearch.org; accessed September 9, 2014.
  8. ^ Year of birth, familysearch.org; accessed September 9, 2014.
  9. ^ Bethanne Patrick (July 7, 2014). "Lee Grant on aging, relationships, and plastic surgery in her 20s". New York Post. Retrieved 2014. 
  10. ^ Hellmann, Paul T. (2006). Historical Gazetteer of the United States. Routledge. p. 779. Retrieved 2014. 
  11. ^ Vaughn, Robert (1972). Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 227. Retrieved 2014. 
  12. ^ Also, this ship manifest from 1933 gives her year of birth as October 31, 1926 and her age as seven (7), but as the date of the manifest is July 5, her age should have been six (6) years old.
  13. ^ Gray, Spalding. Life Interrupted: The Unfinished Monologue, Random House (2005) p. 154
  14. ^ a b c d Turner Classic Movies
  15. ^ Lee Grant at the Internet Broadway Database
  16. ^ Best Actress Award (Cannes Film Festival)
  17. ^ "Lee Grant on life beyond the Hollywood blacklist", CBS "Sunday Morning", August 3, 2014.
  18. ^ Douglas, Kirk. I Am Spartacus: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist, Open Road Media (2012) p. 26 ISBN 978-1453254806
  19. ^ a b Grant, Lee. I Said Yes to Everything: A Memoir, Penguin (2014) ISBN 978-0-399-16930-4
  20. ^ Ross, Steven J. Hollywood Left and Right, Oxford Univ. Press (2011) p. 128, ISBN 978-0195181722
  21. ^ Simon, Neil. Rewrites, Simon & Schuster (1996) p. 336)
  22. ^ Ford, Elizabeth. The Makeover in Movies: Before and After in Hollywood Films, 1941-2002, McFarland (2004) p. 198
  23. ^ Kael, Pauline. The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael, Penguin e-books (2011)
  24. ^ Biskind, Peter. Star: The Life and Wild Times of Warren Beatty, Simon & Schuster (2010) e-book
  25. ^ Dern, Bruce. Things I've Said, But Probably Shouldn't Have: An Unrepentant Memoir, Wiley (2007) p. 231
  26. ^ Jarboe, Jan. "Sissy Spacek's Long Walk Home", Texas Monthly, February 1991, p. 126.
  27. ^ Profile Women in Film website; accessed September 9, 2014.
  28. ^ Lipton, James. Inside Inside, Penguin Group (USA), October 18, 2007; ISBN 9781101211991, pg. 112
  29. ^ Michael C. Moore (August 12, 2013). "Theater: High-powered cast deals this 'Gin Game'". Kitsap A&E. Retrieved September 9, 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

Grant, Lee (2014). I Said Yes to Everything: A Memoir. Blue Rider Press. p. 466. ASIN B00G3L7WOM. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Estelle Parsons
Vacant (2003-2004)
Artistic Director of the Actors Studio
With: Carlin Glynn
and Stephen Lang


Succeeded by
Ellen Burstyn