- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2006

LENOX, Mass. (AP) — Maureen Stapleton, the Oscar-winning character actress whose subtle vulnerability and down-to-earth toughness earned her dramatic and comedic roles on stage, screen and television, died yesterday. She was 80.

Miss Stapleton died from chronic pulmonary disease, said her son, Daniel Allentuck.

Miss Stapleton, whose unremarkable, matronly appearance belied her star personality and talent, won an Academy Award for her 1981 supporting role as anarchist-writer Emma Goldman in Warren Beatty’s “Reds,” about a left-wing American journalist who journeys to Russia to cover the Bolshevik Revolution.

She was nominated several times for supporting actress Oscars, including for her first film role in “Lonelyhearts” in 1958, “Airport” in 1970 and Woody Allen’s “Interiors” in 1978.

Her other film credits include the 1963 musical “Bye Bye Birdie” opposite Ann-Margret and Dick Van Dyke, “Johnny Dangerously,” “Cocoon,” “The Money Pit” and “Addicted to Love.”

In television, she earned an Emmy for 1967’s “Among the Paths to Eden.” She was nominated for “Queen of the Stardust Ballroom” in 1975, “The Gathering” in 1978 and “Miss Rose White” in 1992.

Brought up in a strict Irish Catholic family with an alcoholic father, Miss Stapleton left home in Troy, N.Y., right after high school. With $100 to her name, she came to New York and began studying at the Herbert Berghof acting school and later at the Actors Studio, which turned out the likes of Marlon Brando, Paul Newman and Julia Roberts.

Miss Stapleton soon made her Broadway debut in the 1946 production of “The Playboy of the Western World.”

At 26, she became a success as Serafina Delle Rose in Tennessee Williams’ Broadway hit “The Rose Tattoo” and won a Tony Award. She appeared in numerous other stage productions, including Lillian Hellman’s “Toys in the Attic” and Neil Simon’s “The Gingerbread Lady,” for which she won her second Tony in 1971.

She also appeared in Mr. Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.” Miss Stapleton’s friendship with Mr. Williams was well-known, and he wrote three plays for her, but she never appeared in any of them.

Along the way, she led a chaotic personal life, which her autobiography candidly described as including two failed marriages, numerous affairs, years of alcohol abuse and erratic parenting of her two children.

Beside Mr. Allentuck, Mrs. Stapleton is survived by a daughter, Katharine Bambery, of Lenox and a brother, Jack Stapleton, of Troy.

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