NEW YORK (CBSLA.com) — Tammy Grimes, Broadway’s original “Unsinkable Molly Brown” and ever a critical darling who won a Tony for that role at 26, as well as the mother of actress Amanda Plummer, has died.
According to the New York Times and Variety, Crimes was 82.
Tammy Grimes had a long and storied stage career, starred in more than a dozen award-winning Broadway plays, her own short-lived sitcom with her name in the title and numerous movie credits where she usually played a mysterious woman she smoked.Who knows if Grimes did in real life — her throaty and deep voice made her a natural for those kinds of roles.
When it came time for Hollywood to cast “Molly Brown” the movie, they went with the more conventional Hollywood film choice, popular and perky Debbie Reynolds.
The Times said Grimes died on Sunday in Englewood, N.J. The death was confirmed by Duncan MacArthur, her nephew. A cause of death was not disclosed.
Her second Tony came in a 1969 of Noel Coward’s “Private Lives” where she played Amanda. While born in Massachusetts, Grimes played Brits so well and so often, most of her fans thought she was British. She enjoyed the role so much, when it came time to name her daughter, Amanda seemed like a natural.
Grimes remained one of playwright Noel Coward’s favorites. The feeling was mutual. She became the vice-president of his society about 10 years ago.
While never a starlet or the go-to star in movies or TV of her day, her singing and acting talent always distanced herself from the pack.
“I never looked like an ingénue,” Grimes said matter-of-fact in a New York Times Magazine interview in 1960. In a business often obsessed with looks, the fact she had to work harder to get cast in Hollywood never got under her skin. “I don’t want to be America’s Sweetheart; I’d rather be something they don’t quite understand.”
Rumor had it she was offered the lead role in the TV series that would become “Bewitched” but turned it down for “The Tammy Grimes Show,” a 1966 show that was yanked quickly.
In the mid 60s, Grimes also made headlines when she said she was beaten and injured (twice in a four -day period) by white racists who were audibly uncomfortable with her many associations with black performers like Sammy Davis Jr.
Her film credits include “The Last Unicorn,” “Slaves of New York,” “Somebody Killed Her Husband,” and “Can’t Stop the Music.”
She was married three times. first to “Sound of Music” star Christopher Plummer, Amanda’s father. Grimes was married to Plummer from 1956-1960. He fathered her only child.
Her second husband was actor Jeremy Slate. He was best known for playing a variety or recurring roles on TV Westerns like “Gunsmoke” and “Bonanza” and Chuck Wilson on the soap “One Life to Live.” They were married from 1966 to 1967.
She married Canadian composer Richard Bell in 1971 and remained married to him until his death in 2005.