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Zoe Caldwell Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (1) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (12) | Personal Quotes (3)

Overview (1)

Date of Birth 14 September 1933Melbourne, Australia

Mini Bio (1)

As a testament to her remarkable talent, Broadway has honored esteemed stage actress Zoe Caldwell four times with Tony Awards: for "Slapstick Tragedy" (1966), for her title role in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" (1968), for her searing performance as "Medea" (1982), and as opera diva Maria Callas in "Master Class" (1995). The Australian-born actress began her professional career at the tender age of 9 in a production of "Peter Pan" and went on to find radio work in her teens. Her parents provided her with the necessary foundation long ago with lessons in dance, elocution and music. She left school at age 15 and made her living teaching speech and performing on a children's radio program. Years of repertory work accumulated a formidable resume. She was one of the original members of Melbourne's Union Theatre Repertory Company (1954-1957) and appeared for two seasons with the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company in productions of "Pericles" and "Much Ado About Nothing." She also toured Russia with the latter company in "Hamlet," "Twelfth Night" and "Romeo and Juliet." In 1963 she helped launch the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre. Broadway finally opened its curtains for her in 1965 when she briefly replaced Anne Bancroft in "The Devils.", and has since continued her routine of standing ovations with extraordinary performances as Eve in "The Creation of the World and Other Business" (1972: produced by the renown Robert Whitehead, her husband from 1968) and as Lillian Hellman in "Lillian" (1986). To the dismay of film audiences, Ms. Caldwell has managed to avoid the silver screen, appearing briefly in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) and scoring a larger role in Birth (2004). She took her resounding stage triumph "Medea" to TV and also performed magnificently as Lady Macbeth and Sarah Bernhardt on the small screen. As a now-prestigious stage director, she made her Broadway bow in 1977 with "An Almost Perfect Person," and later helmed productions of "Richard II," "Othello," "Macbeth" and, more recently, "Vita and Virginia" starring Eileen Atkins and Vanessa Redgrave. She and husband Whitehead have maintained a long and successful private and professional partnership, first working together on "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" and later with "Medea." Their son, Charles Whitehead, was the producer of "The Play What I Wrote" which briefly featured Ms. Caldwell in New York in 2003.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (1)

Robert Whitehead (9 May 1968 - 15 June 2002) (his death) (2 children)

Trivia (12)

She was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1970 Queen's New Years Honours List for her services to theatre and the John Gielgud Award by the Shakespeare Guild.
Graduated from the Methodist Ladies College and, much later, received an honorary degree from the University of Melbourne.
Has won four Tony Awards, one for each time she was nominated: as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic), in 1966 for Tennessee Williams's "Slapstick Tragedy," and as Best Actress (Play), in 1968 for playing the title role in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie;" in 1982 for playing the title role in a revival of "Medea," which she recreated in a television version of the same name, Medea (1983); and in 1996 for playing Maria Callas in Terence McNally's "Master Class.".
In 2002, she spoke to graduate and selected undergraduate acting students at New York University - Tisch School of the Arts.
Her first stage role was as "Slightly Soiled" (one of the Lost Boys) in J.M. Barrie's "Peter Pan", at the age of nine, in her native Australia.
One of her primary acting rules is never to get romantically involved with a co-star. She believes that actors playing at being in love are showing the audience what they're feeling at each stage in the relationship, which is the exact opposite of what a real love affair needs, which is privacy. Acting, the audience becomes an intimate partner of the staged lovers, where in real life, lovers need to curtain themselves off from the rest of the world to create real intimacy. Though she admits in her 2001 memoir, "I Will Be Cleopatra", that she violated the rule, she was reticent in providing details. However, she was named as a correspondent by Albert Finney's wife Jane Wenham in their divorce.
Played Cordelia to Charles Laughton's King Lear at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1959. Caldwell, loathed Laughton, and she credits the tension between the two with deepening the drama of their performances, where the characters are engaged in a clash of wills.
Donated 30 acres near her home in Westchester County for a wildlife habitat to be called "Robert Whitehead Preserve" named after her late husband.
Pound Ridge, Westchester, New York [January 2009]
She was awarded the 1995 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Distinguished Lead Actress for "Master Class" in a Gordon Davidson/Mark Taper Forum production at the Mark Taper Forum Theatre in Los Angeles, California.
She was awarded the 1995 Drama Logue Award for Outstanding Actress for "Master Class" in a Gordon Davidson/Mark Taper Forum production at the Mark Taper Forum Theatre in Los Angeles, California.
She was awarded the 1995 Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Award for Best Leading Actress for "Master Class" in a Gordon Davidson/Mark Taper Forum production at the Mark Taper Forum Theatre in Los Angeles, California.

Personal Quotes (3)

Our job is not to get in the way of the playwright's words. We're in big trouble when you hear actors talk about themselves as 'artists.' We're more like priestesses and priests. We take the word from the playwright to the populace. If you don't get in the way too much, the audience will understand exactly what the playwright wants them to know. If you start bringing your own life into it -- saying, "Oh, my God, if I dug deeply enough, I can remember a time when I was so hurt...blah, blah, blah.' That's fine. Write your own play.
I knew at a very early age that my job would be to stand in front of people, keeping them awake and in their seats by telling other people's stories and using other people's words. I knew this because it was the only thing I could do.
Oh, a diva I'm not. Maria Callas was a diva. I never set out to be a diva, I set out to do what I could do, and I was so lucky to have that opportunity. I think if everyone could do what really makes them happy, and earn a living at it, the world would be very different.

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