Elizabeth Wilson, aged 94, was an actress of great talent and prowess on all platforms and it was tragic to hear of her passing most recently in New Haven
A great actress on stage, on TV and in the movies, Elizabeth Wilson knew from the start that she wasn’t meant to be a star. She was however committed to become an actress. After finishing high school, attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, then studied with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse.
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She then acted with the Equity Library Theater in New York. She was noticed by movie contractors who offered her a multiyear movie contract only if she changed her look. To this day she was glad that she hadn’t gone through with it. Her talent soon rose to its apostles. Her face as it was a perfect façade of snobbery, eccentricity and emotion. She played a mother at the tender age of 20.
David Rabe’s harrowing antiwar drama, “Sticks and Bones” earned her a Tony Award for her portrayal of a Vietnamese war veteran’s blind mother. Her Obie Awards came with her performances in “Taken in Marriage” in 1979 and “Anteroom” in 1986.
Her onstage roles comprised of playing Mrs. Peachum, whose daughter marries the notorious Mack the Knife, in a 1976 revival of “The Threepenny Opera.” Her last maternal role was as the mother of Bill in Murray’s Franklin D. Roosevelt in “Hyde Park on Hudson” featured in 2012, it was also her last role of any kind.
She made her screen debut reprising her stage role in the 1955 film adaptation of Picnic, a role she had already performed on stage two years earlier. “Nutcracker: Money, Madness and Murder” in 1987 saw Wilson as a rich but helpless mother of a woman (Lee Remick) plotting to kill her father.
Her famous on screen roles include; befuddled mother of Dustin Hoffman’s Benjamin Braddock in “The Graduate” in 1967, the patrician mother of Ralph Fiennes’s Charles Van Doren in “Quiz Show” in 1994 and the scheming mother of an impostor (Christopher Lloyd) claiming to be Uncle Fester in “The Addams Family” in 1991.
Her best-known film performance, was her role as Roz against Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. She played the memorably untrustworthy office snitch and the nemesis of the downtrodden workers played by, in the 1980 hit “9 to 5.”
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She had no family of hers as she never married because according to her, getting married then implied leaving your career to take care of your family. She admitted to having fallen in love though but never followed through on it. She was living with her younger sister Mary Muir Wilson in her last years. She was currently with Elizabeth Morton in New Haven where she passed away, according to NYTimes.