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Sandra Dale “Sandy” Dennis (April 27, 1937 – March 2, 1992) was an Americanmarker theater and film actress.

Early life

Dennis was born in Hastings, Nebraskamarker, the daughter of Yvonne, a secretary, and Jack Dennis, a postal clerk. She had a brother, Frank. A high school classmate of Dick Cavett, she attended the Nebraska Wesleyan Universitymarker and University of Nebraska. Dennis grew up in Kenesawmarker and Lincoln, Nebraskamarker, appearing in the Lincoln Community Theater Group and moving to New York Citymarker at the age of 19.


Dennis made her television debut in 1956 in The Guiding Light and her film debut in Splendor in the Grass (1961). However, she was more committed to following a career in the theater. She won consecutive Tony Awards for her performances in A Thousand Clowns and Any Wednesday. She won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Honey, the fragile, neurotic young wife of George Segal, in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). She followed this with well-received performances in Up the Down Staircase (1967), The Fox (1967), Sweet November (1968) and The Out-of-Towners (1970). In 1964, she appeared in the television episode "Don't Mention My Name in Sheboyganmarker" of Craig Stevens's CBS drama, Mr. Broadway.

An advocate of method acting, Dennis was often described as neurotic and mannered in her performances; her signature style included running words together and oddly stopping and starting sentences, suddenly going up and down octaves as she spoke, and fluttering her hands. Walter Kerr famously remarked that she treated sentences as "weak, injured things" that needed to be slowly helped "across the street." Nonetheless, William Goldman, in his book The Season, referred to her as a quintessential "critics' darling" who got rave reviews no matter how unusual her acting and questionable her choice of material. During her stint in Any Wednesday, Kerr said the following: "Let me tell you about Sandy Dennis. There should be one in every home."

Her last significant film role was in Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982). In 1991, she played a leading role in the film The Indian Runner, which marked Sean Penn's debut as a film director, and he also wrote the screenplay.

Personal life

Dennis lived with prominent jazz musician Gerry Mulligan from 1965 until they split up in 1976. Although Mulligan often referred to Dennis as his second wife, Dennis later revealed that they had never married. She also lived with actor Eric Roberts from 1980 to 1985.

Sandy Dennis died from ovarian cancer in Westport, Connecticutmarker, aged 54.

In the documentary film Confessions of a Superhero, Superman impersonator Christopher Lloyd Dennis claims to be her son; however, no evidence was provided by Christopher proving this claim, and the film also includes Sandy's relatives' denial of this claim.


Year Film Role Other notes
1961 Splendor in the Grass Kay
1966 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Honey Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress

Nominated - Golden Globe
1967 Up the Down Staircase Sylvia Barrett
The Fox Jill Banford
1968 Teach Me!
Sweet November Sara Deever Nominated - Golden Globe
1969 That Cold Day in the Park Frances Austen
A Touch of Love Rosamund Stacey
1970 The Out-of-Towners Gwen Kellerman
1974 Mr. Sycamore Jane Gwilt
1976 God Told Me To Martha Nicholas
1977 Nasty Habits Sister Winifred
1981 The Animals Film Herself
The Four Seasons Anne Callan
1982 Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean Mona
1988 Another Woman Claire
1989 Parents Millie Dew
976-EVIL Aunt Lucy
1991 The Indian Runner Mrs. Roberts


  1. Sandy Dennis Biography (1937-1992)
  2. Sandy Dennis Foundation
  3. Sandy Dennis. Yahoo Movies.
  4. Confessions of a Superhero, documentary by Matt Ogdens, 2007

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