Lee Remick, dead of cancer at 55, was a diverse, acclaimed actress

July 03, 1991|By Burt A. Folkart | Burt A. Folkart,Los Angeles Times

HOLLYWOOD — HOLLYWOOD-- Lee Remick's diversity was evident throughout what proved a lengthy career for a woman who died so young. From her Broadway stage debut in 1953 to her final appearance in "Love Letters" at the Canon Theater in Beverly Hills, Calif., last summer, her characters covered a wide range. She died yesterday of cancer at 55.

In her final public appearances, a very frail Remick received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame April 29.

Besides playing the alcoholic wife opposite Jack Lemmon in the 1962 "Days of Wine and Roses," which brought her an Academy Award nomination, she played a nervous wreck in "The Women's Room," a tough piano coach in "The Competition," a nymphomaniac in "The Detective" and a rape victim in the remake of "The Letter."

Most recently, Remick starred as the unfeeling mother to Marlee Matlin in the 1989 television movie "A Bridge to Silence."

The actress appeared in 28 motion pictures, including "A Face in the Crowd," "The Long Hot Summer," "Experiment in Terror," "Wild River," "Sanctuary," "The Wheeler Dealers," "Travelin' Lady," "Anatomy of a Murder," "Tribute" and "The Omen."

And "I've played a lot of real people on TV," she reminded the Los Angeles Times in a 1987 interview.

She was a former First Lady in "Eleanor In Her Own Words: A Tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt." In "Nutcracker: Money, Madness and Murder," Remick starred as Frances Bradshaw Schreuder, the socialite who was convicted of persuading her 17-year-old son to kill her father.

And she played the British driver Kay Summersby linked romantically to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in "Ike, The War Years."

Remick was born in Quincy, Mass. Her father was a department store owner and her mother an actress.

While she was attending the fashionable Miss Hewitt's School school in Manhattan and studying theater, someone -- she didn't remember who -- encouraged her to try out for a Broadway play called "Act Your Age." She added two years to her age, which got her a job, but didn't help the play, which bombed.

She did summer stock with Rudy Vallee and in 1953 returned to New York to enroll in Barnard College. But by then the theater had captured her and she began to appear in such early television dramas as "Playhouse 90," which originally produced "The Days of Wine and Roses," "Philco Playhouse" and "Robert Montgomery Presents."

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