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Colleen Rose Dewhurst (June 3, 1924 – August 22, 1991) was a Canadianmarker actress known for a while as "the Queen of Off-Broadway." Admired for her casual beauty, wide-armed emotional frankness and a voice as deep as a fog-horn, Dewhurst was a renowned interpreter of the works of Eugene O'Neill onstage, and her career also encompassed work in film, the early dramas of live television, and a professional relationship with Joseph Papp that went back to the beginnings of his dream of a New York Shakespeare Festival. She married George C. Scott not once but twice, and their personal and professional partnership was known for its fire. Their son, actor Campbell Scott, is respected for his work onstage and in Hollywood films. Dewhurst won two Tony Awards and four Emmy Awards.

Early life

Dewhurst was born in Montreal, Quebecmarker, the only child of a hockey player turned businessman and his homemaker wife. Her mother was a practitioner of Christian Science. Dewhurst was raised in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsinmarker, a suburb of Milwaukeemarker, where she attended Whitefish Bay High Schoolmarker Shorewood High School and eventually graduated from Riverside High School in Milwaukee,in 1942 and the Milwaukee-Downer College.


Her crowning achievement came in 1974 after 27 years of acting, when she appeared in the Broadway revival of Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten as raw-boned, all-forgiving farm girl "Josie Hogan" opposite Jason Robards's Jamie, the broken man whom she loves. Dewhurst won the Tony for her iconic work. With beauty, a dark chesty voice and a braying laugh that suggested she'd lived her life in the big outdoors, she was respected as a near-definitive interpreter of O'Neill's big-spirited women.

Dewhurst had other triumphs in New York. She was "Kate" in a 1956 Taming of the Shrew for one of Joseph Papp's early productions of free Shakespeare. This production was pivotal in establishing Papp and his institution of free Shakespeare in New York, primarily because Brooks Atkinson wrote up this outdoor Lower East Side outdoor production in The New York Times. Dewhurst (in an autobiography published posthumously as a collaboration with Tom Viola) writes: "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." Dewhurst played Shakespeare's Cleopatra and Lady Macbeth for Papp and, much later, Gertrude in a starry production of Hamlet at the Delacorte Theatremarker in Central Park which was, by then, Papp's free Shakespeare's permanent home. (That Hamlet had James Earl Jones as Claudius and Stacy Keach as the Prince).

Characteristically frank, Dewhurst (in the autobiography) has this to say of her early successes: "I had moved so quickly from one Off-Broadway production to the next that I was known, at one point, at 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."

As Dewhurst's career took off, both in early television drama, film, Off-Broadway and On, she became involved in a tempestuous personal and professional relationship with a dynamic actor who was coming into his greatness even as she was coming into hers. That actor was George C. Scott, and they met working together in a play under Jose Quintero's direction in 1958, "Children of Darkness," while they were both married to other people. He was Antony to her Cleopatra for Joe Papp, and they were married not once but twice. In short, it was a passionate relationship about which Dewhurst declined to speak much.

Critics noted that she outshone her co-star Ingrid Bergman in a highly anticipated production of O'Neill's More Stately Mansions on Broadway in 1967. Jose Quintero, the treasured colleague who directed her as "Josie Hogan", also directed her in O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night and O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra. She was the giant of a woman in Edward Albee's adaptation of Carson McCullers' Ballad of the Sad Cafe, and she played Edward Albee's Martha in a Broadway revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf which Albee directed himself. She won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in 1961 for All The Way Home.

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.

Dewhurst received acclaim for her appearance opposite her then-husband, George C. Scott, in a 1971 television adaptation of Arthur Miller's The Price, on the Hallmark Hall of Fame, and there is another television record of them together when she played Elizabeth Proctor to his unfaithful John in Miller's The Crucible (with Tuesday Weld giving excellent account of herself as the seductress). In 1977, Woody Allen cast her in his film Annie Hall as Annie's mother.

In 1991, she appeared in a supporting role for which she would become known to a whole other generation. She played the no-nonsense mother of Candice Bergen's Murphy Brown, earning 2 of her numerous Emmy Awards for several appearances as the stern and feisty Avery Brown.

In 1985 she played the role of Marilla Cuthbert in Kevin Sullivan's adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, and reprised the role in 1987's Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel, and in several episodes of Kevin Sullivan's television production, Road to Avonlea. Ms. Dewhurst died before Marilla could be written out of the show: her final scenes were picked up off the editing room floor and pieced together for her death scene.

She was president of the Actors' Equity Association from 1985 until her death from cervical cancer at the age of sixty-seven. Dewhurst's Christian Science beliefs led to her refusal to countenance any kind of surgical treatment. Her integrity and forthrightness as an artist stood as a beacon to many in the theatre community. Close friend and actress Maureen Stapleton wrote this 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 f**king reins in on her even if you desperately wanted to and knew d*mn well that somebody should." (from "Colleen Dewhurst: Her Autobiography" written with and completed by Tom Viola)

Personal life

was married to James Vickery from 1947 to 1960, and to actor George C. Scott, twice, for a total of approximately 10 years, with both marriages ending in divorce. She was the mother of two sons, including Alexander Scott, and actor Campbell Scott, with whom she costarred 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 Yorkmarker with her life partner, Ken Marsolais, and also in a summer home on Prince Edward Islandmarker, in her native Canadamarker.


Dewhurst died at her South Salem home on August 22, 1991. She was cremated and her ashes were given to family and friends. No public service was planned.

In addition to her sons, she is survived by two grandchildren.

Awards and nominations

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 Obies 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 twelve Emmy Award nominations, she won four.

  • 1986: Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Special – Between Two Women
  • 1989: Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series – Murphy Brown
  • 1989: Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Special – Those She Left Behind
  • 1991: Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series – Murphy Brown

  • 1990: Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series – Road to Avonlea
  • 1990: Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Special – Lantern Hill
  • 1991: Emmy Award for Supporting Actress in a Movie or Miniseries – Lantern Hill



Year Film Role Notes
1959 The Nun's Story Archangel Gabriel (Sanatorium)
1960 Man on a String Helen Benson
1961 The Foxes TV movie.
1962 Focus TV movie.
1966 A Fine Madness Dr. Vera Kropotkin
1967 The Crucible Elizabeth Proctor TV movie.
1971 The Last Run Monique
1972 The Cowboys Kate
1973 Legend in Granite Marie Lombardi TV movie.
1974 Parker Addison, Philosopher Hostess TV movie.
The Music School Hostess TV movie.
McQ Myra
The Story of Jacob and Joseph Rebekah TV movie.
1975 A Moon for the Misbegotten Josie Hogan TV movie.
1977 Annie Hall Mrs. Hall
1978 The Third Walker Kate Maclean
Ice Castles Beulah Smith
1979 Silent Victory: The Kitty O'Neil Story Mrs. O'Neil TV movie.
When a Stranger Calls Tracy
And Baby Makes Six Anna Kramer TV movie.
Mary and Joseph: A Story of Faith Elizabeth TV movie.
1980 Death Penalty Elaine Lipton TV movie.
Escape Lily Levinson TV movie.
Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones Mrs. Myrtle Kennedy TV movie.
The Women's Room Val TV movie.
A Perfect Match Meg Larson TV movie.
Baby Comes Home Anna Kramer TV movie.
Final Assignment Dr. Valentine Ulanova
Tribute Gladys Petrelli
1981 A Few Days in Weasel Creek Aunt Cora TV movie.
1982 Split Cherry Tree Mother
Between Two Brothers TV movie.
1983 Sometimes I Wonder Grandma TV movie.
The Dead Zone Henrietta Dodd
1984 You Can't Take It With You Grand Duchess Olga Katrina TV movie.
The Glitter Dome Lorna Dillman TV movie.
1985 Anne of Green Gables Marilla Cuthbert TV movie.
1986 Between Two Women Barbara Petherton TV movie.
Johnny Bull Marie Kovacs TV movie.
As Is Hospice Worker TV movie.
The Boy Who Could Fly Mrs. Sherman
Sword of Gideon Golda Meir TV movie.
1987 Hitting Homemarker Judge TV movie.
Bigfoot Gladys Samco TV movie.
Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel Marilla Cuthbert TV movie.
1989 Those She Left Behind Margaret Page TV movie.
Termini Station Molly Dushane
1990 The Exorcist III Satan (voice) Uncredited.
Woman in the Wind
Kaleidoscope Margaret TV movie.
Lantern Hill Elizabeth TV movie.
1991 Dying Young Estelle Whittier
Bed & Breakfast Ruth


Year Title Role Notes
1957 Studio One "First Prize for Murder"
1958 Kraft Television Theatre "Presumption of Innocence"
Decoy Taffy "Deadly Corridor"
The DuPont Show of the Month "The Count of Monte Cristo"
1959 Aldonza / Dulcinea / Escalante "I, Don Quixote"
Play of the Week Mordeen Saul / Woman "Burning Bright"; "Madea"
The United States Steel Hour Vera Brandon "The Hours Before Dawn"
1961 Play of the Week "No Exit/The Indifferent Lover"
Ben Casey Phyllis Anders "I Remember a Lemon Tree"
1962 The Eleventh Hour Joanne Novak "I Don't Belong in a White-Painted House"
The Virginian Celia Ames "The Executioners"
The Nurses Grace Milo "Fly, Shadow"
1963 The United States Steel Hour Francie Broderick "Night Run to the West"
The DuPont Show of the Month Karen Holt "Something to Hide"
1964 East Side/West Side Shirley "Nothing but the Half Truth"
1965 Dr. Kildare Eleanor Markham "All Brides Should Be Beautiful"
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Nurse Ellen Hatch "Night Fever"
1966 The F.B.I.marker Amy Doucette "The Baby Sitter"
The Big Valley Annie Morton "A Day of Terror"
1971 Saturday Night Theatre Mrs. Franz "The Price"
Hallmark Hall of Fame
1972 Molly Joyce "The Hands of Cormac Joyce"
1973 Wide World Mystery Margery Landing "A Prowler in the Heart"
1979 Studs Lonigan Mary Lonigan TV mini-series.
1982 Quincy M.E. Dr. Barbara Ludow "For Love of Joshua"
The Blue and the Gray Maggie Geyser TV mini-series.
1983 Great Performances Red Queen "Alice in Wonderland"
1984 Finder of Lost Loves Rachel Green "Echoes"
The Love Boat Maud 2 episodes.
1985 A.D. Antonia TV mini-series.
1988 The Twilight Zone Alley Parker "There Was an Old Woman"
1989 Moonlighting Betty Russell "Take My Wife, for Example"
Murphy Brown Avery Brown Sr. 3 episodes.
1990 "Bob & Murphy & Ted & Avery"
Road to Avonlea Marilla Cuthbert 3 episodes.


Year Film Role
1952 Desire Under the Elms Neighbor
1956 Tamburlaine the Great Virgin of Memphis / Turkish Concubine
1957-1958 The Country Wife Mrs. Squeamish
1960 Caligula Caesonia
1960-1961 All the Way Home Mary Follet
1962 Great Day in the Morning Phoebe Flaherty
1963-1964 The Ballad of the Sad Cafe Miss Amelia Evans
1967-1968 More Stately Mansions Sara
1970 The Good Woman of Setzuan Shen Te
1971 All Over The Mistress
1972 Mourning Becomes Electra Christine Mannon
1973-1974 A Moon for the Misbegotten Josie Hogan
1976 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Martha
1977-1978 An Almost Perfect Person Irene Porter
1982 The Queen and the Rebels Argia
1983-1984 You Can't Take It With You Olga
1988 Long Day's Journey Into Night Mary Cavan Tyrone
Ah, Wilderness! Essie Miller
1989-1990 Love Letters Melissa Gardner


  1. Gorgeous Gael - TIME
  2. Colleen Dewhurst Biography - Yahoo! Movies

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