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Stapleton, Oscar Winner, Dies at 80

By Sean O’Driscol

OSCAR-winning Irish American actress Maureen Stapleton died on Monday at the age of 80.

Stapleton, who won her Oscar for playing anarchist-writer Emma Goldman in the 1981 film Reds, often attributed her will to succeed in acting on her tough Irish Catholic family and alcoholic father.

A lifelong smoker, she died of pulmonary disease after a long illness, according to her son.

Her first role was in a 1946 Broadway revival of Sean O’Casey’s play Playboy of the Western World. She went on star in scores of plays and films. She was a close friend of Tennessee Williams, who wrote three plays for her, but she decided not to perform in any of them.

For his Oscar speech for Best Supporting Actress, Stapleton famously thanked “everyone I ever met,” a quote later used by Arthur Miller when he won a National Book Award.

She wrote her own autobiography in 1955 called Hell of a Life.

“I’ve been asked repeatedly what the ‘key’ to acting is, and as far as I’m concerned, the main thing is to keep the audience awake,” she wrote.

Stapleton was close to nabbing an Oscar several times before winning. She was named as a supporting actress nominee in her first film role in 1958’s Lonely Hearts, followed by Airport in 1970; and Woody Allen’s Interiors in 1978.

In television, she earned an Emmy for Among the Paths to Eden in 1967. She was nominated for Queen of the Stardust Ballroom in 1975, The Gathering in 1977 and Miss Rose White in 1992.

Stapleton was raised in a stern Irish Catholic family with an alcoholic father. She left her home in Troy, New York come to come to the city to study acting.

At age 24, she won strong reviews as Serafina Delle Rose in Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo, for which she won a Tony Award.

Like Williams, Stapleton had a chaotic personal life with two failed marriages, several affairs and years of alcoholism. She later resolved her personal problems, she wrote in her autobiography.

In 1982, she starred in the farcical Irish comedy Passed Away, with Bob Hoskins.

 

 
 


 
 
 
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