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Tammy Grimes Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (11) | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (2)

Date of Birth 30 January 1934Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Height 5' 5" (1.65 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Slim, pixie-like, two-time Tony Award winner Tammy Grimes who put on marvelously quirky Cowardesque airs and captivated audiences with her inimitably throaty, raspy voice was actually not British but born in Lynn, Massachusetts, on January 30, 1934, the daughter of Eola Willard (née Niles), a naturalist and spiritualist, and Luther Nichols Grimes, an innkeeper, country-club manager, and farmer. She attended the all-girls Beaver Country Day School in nearby Chestnut Hill and later received entry at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, before relocating to New York for professional acting purposes.

Tammy studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse and made her NY debut there in "Jonah and the Whale" in 1955. Broadway offers came shortly after, first as a standby for Kim Stanley as Cherie in "Bus Stop" in June 1955. In 1956, she appeared in the off-Broadway production "The Littlest Revue," performed in a cross-country tour of "The Lark," made an Obie-winning appearance in the off-Broadway play "Clerambard," and in 1959 nabbed the lead role in Noël Coward's play "Look After Lulu!" on Broadway after the renowned playwright discovered her distinctive style of singing at Julius Monk's Downstairs at the Upstairs nightclub in New York. She won a Theatre World Award for that. She later was guest star at the New York City Opera in a revival of "The Cradle will Rock," recreating the role of Moll. On the classical side, Tammy starred with the American Shakespeare Festival at Stratford, Connecticut, as Mistress Quickly in "Henry IV" and Mopsa in 'The Winter's Tale".

Earning the role of the indomitable, rags-to-riches, Titanic-surviving Molly Brown in the 1960 musical comedy "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," Tammy was nothing less than sensational and won a Tony Award as "Best Featured Actress in a Musical" (due to below the title rules at the time). She followed this with the 1963 play "Rattle of a Simple Man" in 1963. On TV she appeared twice on the popular series "Route 66" and is fondly remembered for her performance in four TV specials: "Four for Tonight" with Cyril Ritchard, Beatrice Lillie and Tony Randall; "Hollywood Sings" with Eddie Albert; "The Datchet Diamonds" with Rex Harrison and "archy and mehitabel" with Eddie Bracken. Also on TV, Grimes was originally selected to play Samantha Stevens, the witch-wife part given to Elizabeth Montgomery in the hit sitcom television situation comedy "Bewitched," but was released from her contract when friend Noël Coward asked her to star on Broadway as Elvira in "High Spirits," a musical directed by Coward based on his play "Blithe Spirit".

1966-1967 were tepid years for the actress. After the "Bewitched" incident, she finally received her own ABC television series, The Tammy Grimes Show (1966), in which she played a money-spending heiress but the show was not well-received and dropped quickly, making it one of the shortest series shown in TV history. That same year she was featured in her first film Three Bites of the Apple (1967), a diverting comedy starring British David McCallum and Italy's Sylva Koscina that displayed her quirky talents, but it too made no impression on the public and pretty much put the bite on a leading lady career. Later she was sporadically and sometimes bizarrely featured into such films as Play It As It Lays (1972);Somebody Killed Her Husband (1978); The Runner Stumbles (1979); America (1986) Mr. North (1988); Slaves of New York (1989); A Modern Affair (1995) and High Art (1998).

Grimes became the toast of New York when she appeared in a revival of Noël Coward's "Private Lives" as "Amanda", winning her second Tony Award, this time for "Best Actress". During her career, she also spent several seasons at the Stratford Festival in Canada. In addition to night clubs, she has also recorded several albums of songs, recited poetry, and has hosted CBS Radio Mystery Theater.

In 2003, Grimes was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame and later that year was invited by The Noel Coward Society (she later became its vice president) to be the first celebrity to lay flowers on the statue of Sir Coward at The Gershwin Theatre in Manhattan to celebrate the playwright's 104th birthday. In 2007, the septuagenarian returned to the cabaret stage in a critically acclaimed one-woman show "An Evening with Miss Tammy Grimes" inspired by her late husband at the Plush Room.

Grimes was married three times. First to actor Christopher Plummer in August 1956, by whom she had actress Amanda Plummer, who, like her Mom, is also known for her eccentric brilliance. The couple were divorced in 1960. Her second husband was actor Jeremy Slate, whose marriage in 1966 lasted but a year. Her 1971 union to Canadian composer Richard Jameson Bell would be successful and last until Bell's death in 2005.

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

Spouse (3)

Richard Jameson Bell Jr. (1971 - 28 September 2005) (his death)
Jeremy Slate (4 June 1966 - 15 April 1967) (divorced)
Christopher Plummer (19 August 1956 - 2 September 1960) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (11)

Originated the title role in the Broadway production of "The Unsinkable Molly Brown".
Studied acting at New York City's prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse under the guidance of legendary acting coach, Sanford Meisner.
Was originally offered the role of "Samantha Stephens" on Bewitched (1964); she turned the part down in order to concentrate on her stage career. Elizabeth Montgomery was cast instead. She did work with Dick Sargent (the second "Darrin" on Bewitched (1964)) on The Tammy Grimes Show (1966).
Tried out for the 1952 free-style Olympic swimming team, but just missed out.
She named her daughter Amanda Michael Plummer (born in 1957) after her character in Noël Coward's Private Lives.
Replaced E.G. Marshall as the host for the "CBS Radio Mystery Theater" in 1982 (the final season of the program).
Also won a Tony (In the correct category of Best Actress this time) when she played "Amanda" in "Private Lives" on Broadway in 1970. Other Broadway appearances include Neil Simon's play "California Suite" (1976), the musicals "High Spirits" (1964) and "42nd Street" (1980), and revivals of Molière's "Tartuffe" (1977) and Tennessee Williams' "Orpheus Descending" (1989).
Has won two Tony Awards on only two nominations: in 1961 as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Musical) for playing the title character, Molly Brown, in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown;" and in 1970 as Best Actress (Dramatic), for a revival of Noël Coward's "Private Lives."
Won the Best Supporting Actress Tony Award for playing the lead role in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" because her name was not 'big' enough to appear on top of the title. According to Tony rules at the time, performers whose names appeared before the title were judged in the lead acting categories.
In 1965, Grimes made headlines after she had been beaten and injured twice in four days by what were described as "white racists". According to a report, Miss Grimes said she believed the attacks were related to her association with several black entertainers and recent appearances in public with Sammy Davis Jr. who was said to be staging a nightclub act for her.

Personal Quotes (1)

My agent asked would I like to do a musical. I said, 'Of course I would.' He said, 'Well, I've got the part for you.' So I read it, and I thought she was a stupid girl. She loved society. She just wanted to be social and have a lot of money. And I said, 'That's not very sensitive or tasteful' or whatever. So I told my agent, Baron Polan, that I didn't want to play it, and he grabbed my shoulders and he shook me a little bit on Fifth Avenue and said, 'Do you want to be a star or don't you want to be a star?' And I said, 'I want to be a star.' TG -- about her star-making role in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown"

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