From the great New York stage actress (a.k.a. Murphy Brown's mother), a memoir as unconventional and captivating as she was....


COLLEEN DEWHURST: Her Autobiography

From the great New York stage actress (a.k.a. Murphy Brown's mother), a memoir as unconventional and captivating as she was. When Dewhurst died in 1991, she had roughed out about two-thirds of her autobiography with the assistance of Viola, who typed, edited, and organized her spoken recollections. He completed the book by interviewing friends, coworkers, and family, weaving their memories into Dewhurst's account to create a vivid portrait of her powerful personality and the warm response she prompted in others. Despite her famous sociability--her country home was virtually a commune for kids, animals, and anyone in trouble--Dewhurst was in many ways very private; it is primarily from the comments of others that we glean details of her two stormy marriages to George C. Scott and her mother's Christian Science faith, which influenced her decision not to seek medical treatment for the cervical cancer that killed her. Her narrative focuses on her career, paying generous tribute to mentors like Harold Clurman, colleagues like Joe Papp (she acted in many of the New York Shakespeare Festival's early productions), and collaborators like director Jose Quintero and costar Jason Robards, with whom she created the magical 1974 revival of Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten that made her a star at age 49. Dewhurst was the premier interpreter of O'Neill's female characters--she appeared in Desire Under the Elms, Long Day's Journey into Night, and Ah, Wilderness!--and she also worked frequently with Edward Albee; her thoughts on these two important American playwrights are illuminating, though she does not discuss her performances in much detail. She speaks appreciatively on occasion of the professionalism she found working on television shows like Murphy Brown, but the entire text glows with her love for the theater as an art and an occupation--concern for the latter made her active in the Actors' Fund and a two-term president of Actors' Equity. A moving human document as well as a fine theater autobiography.

Pub Date: July 1, 1997


Page Count: 388

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997