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Seldes, Marian 1928–

SELDES, Marian 1928–


Surname is pronounced Sell–dess; full name, Marian Hall Seldes; born August 23, 1928, in New York, NY; daughter of Gilbert (a journalist, author, and editor) and Alice (maiden name, Hall) Seldes; niece of George Seldes (a journalist); married Julian Arnold Claman (a director and producer), November 3, 1953 (divorced, 1961); married Garson Kanin (a writer, director, producer, and actor), June 19, 1990 (died, March 13, 1999); children: (first marriage) Katharine Claman. Education: Trained for the stage at School of the American Ballet, 1941–44, and with Sanford Meisner and Martha Graham at Neighborhood Playhouse, New York City, 1947.

Addresses: Agent—Don Buchwald and Associates, 10 East 44th St., New York, NY 10017. Contact—Scott Supak, Bald Mountain Press, P.O. Box 3214, Canyon Country, CA 91351.

Career: Actress, director, and writer. Appeared at Cambridge Summer Theatre, Cambridge, MA, 1945, Boston Summer Theatre, Boston, MA, 1946, St. Michael's Playhouse, Winooski, VT, 1947–48, Bermudiana Theatre, Hamilton, Bermuda, 1951, and Elitch Gardens Theatre, Denver, CO, 1953; member of board of directors, Neighborhood Playhouse, Acting Company, National Repertory Theatre, and Theatre Hall of Fame; Stanford University, artist in residence, 1955; the Juilliard School, teacher and director in Drama Division, c. 1967–91, joined Dance Division, 1972; Fordham University, faculty member, beginning 2002. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, member of the board of trustees; host of awards presentations and participant at conferences.

Member: Actors' Equity Association, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Screen Actors Guild, Theatre Library Association (life member), Players Club, Century Association.

Awards, Honors: Obie Award, Village Voice, outstanding performance, 1963, for A Ginger Man; Antoinette Perry Award, best dramatic actress, 1967, for A Delicate Balance; Drama Desk Award, outstanding performance, and Antoinette Perry Award nomination, best dramatic actress, 1971, both for Father's Day; Antoinette Perry Award nomination, best dramatic actress in a featured role, 1978, for Deathtrap; Obie Award, outstanding performance, 1978, for Isadora Duncan Sleeps with the Russian Navy; honorary D.H.L., Emerson College, 1979; Outer Critics Circle Award, 1984, for Painting Churches; Ovation Award, Theatre L.A., and Connecticut Critics Award, both 1996, for Three Tall Women; inducted into Theatre Hall of Fame, 1996; Drama Desk Award nomination, c. 1998, for Ivanov; Antoinette Perry Award nomination, best actress, 1999, for Ring round the Moon; Madge Evans and Sidney Kingsley Award for Excellence in Theatre, Dramatists Guild Fund, 2000; Obie Award, sustained excellence, 2001; Lucille Lortel Award nomination, League of Off–Broadway Theatres and Producers, and Outer Critics Circle Award nomination, both outstanding actress in a play, 2001, for The Play about the Baby; Players Club Award, person of the year, 2002; Antoinette Perry Award nomination, best featured actress in a play, and Outer Critics Circle Award nomination, outstanding featured actress in a play, both 2003, for Dinner at Eight; Edith Oliver Award for Sustained Excellence, League of Off–Broadway Theatres and Producers, 2003; Edwin Booth Award, Players Club, 2003; Gaudium Award, Breukelein Institute, 2003; honorary D.F.A., the Juilliard School, 2003.


Stage Appearances:

Dancer, Petrouchka, Ballet Theatre, Metropolitan Opera House, New York City, 1942.

Attendant, Medea, National Theatre, New York City, 1947.

Dounia, Crime and Punishment, National Theatre, 1947–1948.

Second woman of Corinth, Medea, City Center Theatre, New York City, 1949.

Anichu at age eighteen, That Lady, Martin Beck Theatre, New York City, 1949–1950.

Electra, The Tower beyond Tragedy, American National Theatre and Academy Playhouse, New York City, 1950.

First woman of Corinth, Medea, Hebbel Theatre, Berlin, Germany, 1951.

Nurse Phillips, The High Ground, Forty–Eighth Street Theatre, New York City, 1951.

A close friend, Come of Age, City Center Theatre, 1952.

Nancy, "Oliver Twist," in Highlights of the Empire, Empire Theatre, New York, 1953.

Bertha, Ondine, Forty–Sixth Street Theatre, New York City, 1954.

Olivia, The Chalk Garden, Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York City, 1955–1956.

Rachel, The Flowering Peach, Cathay Circle Theatre, Los Angeles, 1956.

Romaine, Witness for the Prosecution, Player's Ring Theatre, Los Angeles, 1957.

Sara, The Potting Shed, La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla, CA, 1957.

Symka Berson, later Rachel Apt, The Wall, Billy Rose Theatre, New York City, 1960–1961.

Emma Crosby, Diff'rent, Mermaid Theatre, New York City, 1961.

Mag, The Long Voyage Home, Mermaid Theatre, 1961.

Mrs. Patrick Campbell, A Fig Leaf in Her Bonnet, Gramercy Arts Theatre, New York City, 1961.

Susan Loring, A Gift of Time, Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 1962.

Miss Frost, The Ginger Man, Orpheum Theatre, New York City, 1963.

Blackie, The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, Brooks Atkinson Theatre, New York City, 1963–1964.

Nurse, Medea, Valley Music Theatre, Los Angeles, 1964–1965.

Juana, Juana La Loca, American Place Theatre, St. Clement's Theatre, New York City, 1965.

Postmistress, All Women Are One, Gate Theatre, New York City, 1965.

Standby for Miss Alice, Tiny Alice, Billy Rose Theatre, 1965.

Julia, A Delicate Balance, Martin Beck Theatre, 1966–1967.

Sylvia, Before You Go, Henry Miller's Theatre, New York City, 1967–1968.

The woman, Final Solutions, Felt Forum Theatre, New York City, 1968.

Daisy, Mercy Street, American Place Theatre, St. Clement's Theatre, 1969.

Olga, The Three Sisters, American Shakespeare Festival Theatre, Stratford, CT, 1969.

An Evening with James Agee, Theatre de Lys, New York City, 1969.

Gretchen, Other People, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Stockbridge, MA, 1970.

Constance, The Celebration, Hedgerow Theatre, Media, PA, 1971.

Marian, Father's Day, John Golden Theatre, New York City, 1971.

Katherine Carney, Remember Me, Country Playhouse, Westport, CT, 1972.

The witness, Mendicants of Evening (ballet), Martha Graham Company, Alvin Theatre, New York City, 1973.

For the Use of the Hall, Trinity Square Playhouse, Providence, RI, 1974.

Hester Salomon, Equus, Plymouth Theatre, New York City, 1974–1976.

Dora Strang, Equus, Plymouth Theatre, 1976–1977.

Isadora Duncan, Isadora Duncan Sleeps with the Russian Navy, American Place Theatre, 1977.

Rivka Kolner, The Merchant, Plymouth Theatre, 1977.

Myra Bruhl, Deathtrap, Music Box Theatre, New York City, 1978–1982.

Margaret, Richard III, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, Delacorte Theatre, 1983.

Fanny Church, Painting Churches, Second Stage Theatre, McGinn–Cazale Theatre, New York City, 1983, then Lamb's Theatre, New York City, 1983–1984.

Remember Me, Lakewood Theatre, Skowhegan, ME, 1985.

Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein and a Companion, White Barn Theatre, Westport, CT, 1985, then Lucile Lortel Theatre, New York City, 1986.

Duchess of Gloucester, Richard II, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, Delacorte Theatre, 1987.

Vera Ridgeway Condotti, The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, Workshop of the Players Art Theatre, New York City, 1987.

Happy Ending, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Bristol, PA, 1988.

The Players Club Centennial Salute, Sam S. Shubert Theatre, New York City, 1989.

Mrs. Christmas, Annie 2: Miss Hannigan's Revenge (musical), John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC, 1989–1990 in revised version as Commissioner Margaret G. Stark, Annie 2, Norma Terrace Theatre, Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam, CT, 1990.

Die Alte, A Bright Room Called Day, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, LuEsther Hall, New York City, 1990–1991.

Woman B, Three Tall Women, River Arts Theatre, Woodstock, NY, 1992, then Vineyard Theatre, New York City, 1994, then as Woman A, later Woman B, Promenade Theatre, New York City, 1994–1995.

Another Time, American Jewish Theatre, New York City, 1993.

Breaking the Code, Berkshire Theatre Festival, 1993.

Fanny Cavendish, The Royal Family, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA, 1996.

"The Boys from Syracuse," City Center Encores!, City Center Theatre, 1997.

Dead End, Williamstown Theatre Festival, 1997.

Zinaida Savishna, Ivanov, Lincoln Center, Vivian Beaumont Theatre, New York City, 1997–1998.

Flora Van Huysen, The Matchmaker, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Adams Memorial Theatre Mainstage, 1998.

Madame Desmemortes, Ring round the Moon, Belasco Theatre New York City, 1999.

Mrs. Patrick Campbell, Dear Liar, Irish Repertory Theatre, New York City, 1999.

Mad about the Boy, Carnegie Hall, 1999.

Sail Away (concert reading), Carnegie Hall, New York City, 1999.

Tongue of a Bird, Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, 1999.

Margaret, The Butterfly Collection, Playwrights' Horizons Theatre, New York City, 2000.

Woman, The Play about the Baby, Alley Theatre, Houston, TX, then Century Center for the Performing Arts, New York City, both 2000.

Ancestral Voices, 2000.

The Skin of Our Teeth, Williamstown Theatre Festival, 2000.

The Torch–Bearers, Drama Department, Greenwich House Theatre, New York City, 2000.

The Dark River (reading), Cherry Lane Theatre, New York City, 2001.

Rayleen, 45 Seconds from Broadway, Richard Rodgers Theatre, New York City, 2001–2002.

Carlotta Vance, Dinner at Eight, Lincoln Center, Vivian Beaumont Theatre, 2002.

Jean, Play Yourself, New York Theatre Workshop, Century Center for the Performing Arts, 2002.

Servant, Helen, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, Martinson Hall, New York City, 2002.

Virginia Woolf, "A Room of One's Own" (reading), Women Center Stage, Culture Project, Forty–Five Bleecker Street Theatre, New York City, 2002.

Lunch with the League, League of Professional Theatre Women, Angus McIndoe Theatre, New York City, 2002.

A Place at Forest Lawn (staged reading), Promenade Theatre, 2002.

A Very Special Evening with Marian Seldes (benefit performance), Culture Project, Forty–Five Bleecker Street Theatre, 2002.

Vera Charles, Auntie Mame (benefit reading), John Jay College Theatre, New York City, 2003.

"Kathe Kollwitz: Berlin," Women Center Stage, Culture Project, Forty–Five Bleecker Street Theatre, 2003.

Beckett/Albee, Century Center for the Performing Arts, 2003–2004.

Fanny Cavendish, The Royal Family (reading), Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, 2004.

Dedication; or, The Stuff of Dreams, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Nikos Stage, 2004.

Food for Thought (benefit series of readings), Food for Thought Lunch Hour Theatre, National Arts Club, New York City, c. 2004.

Appeared in summer stock productions, beginning in 1945, including Angel Street, Dream Girl, The Glass Menagerie, The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady in the Dark, The Late George Apley, The Little Foxes, Night Must Fall, Peg o' My Heart, Pygmalion, Show Boat, and The Silver Cord.

Major Tours:

Medea, U.S. cities, 1947.

Mary, Who's Happy Now?, 1968.

Woman A, Three Tall Women, U.S. cities, 1995–1996.

Stage Director:

Next Time I'll Sing to You, City Center Acting Company, Good Shepherd–Faith Church Theatre, New York City, 1972, then Billy Rose Theatre, New York City, 1974.

Film Appearances:

Caroline, The Lonely Light, 1954.

(Uncredited) Mrs. Morse, The Young Stranger, Universal, 1957.

Rowena Cobb, The True Story of Jesse James (also known as The James Brothers), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1957.

Arnon, The Big Fisherman, Buena Vista, 1958.

Kate Owens, The Light in the Forest, Buena Vista, 1958.

Debbie Cole, Crime & Punishment, 1959.

Herodias, The Greatest Story Ever Told (also known as George Stevens Presents the Greatest Story Ever Told), United Artists, 1963.

Ruth, Fingers, Turner, 1978.

Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein and a Companion, 1988.

Miss Maple, Spy Trap (also known as Likewise and Zits), 1988.

Isabel Purvis, In a Pig's Eye, 1989.

Margaret Armstrong, The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag, Buena Vista, 1992.

Widow Douglas, Tom and Huck (also known as The Adventures of Tom and Huck, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Tom Sawyer), Buena Vista, 1995.

Herself, Tell the Truth and Run: George Seldes and the American Press (documentary), 1996.

Alma Pittman, Affliction, Lions Gate Films, 1997.

Mrs. Hess, Home Alone 3, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1997.

Datloff's party guest, Celebrity, Miramax, 1998.

Leah Schroth, Digging to China, Legacy Releasing, 1998.

Mrs. Dudley, The Haunting (also known as La maldicion), DreamWorks SKG, 1999.

Harriet Gahagan, Duets, Buena Vista, 2000.

Eugenie's mother, Town & Country, New Line Cinema, 2001.

Alexandra, Hollywood Ending, DreamWorks SKG, 2002.

President Jocelyn Carr, Mona Lisa Smile, Columbia, 2003.

Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There (also known as Broadway: The Golden Age and Broadway: The Movie), Dada Films, 2003.

Narrator, Proteus, Night Fire Films, 2004.

Television Appearances; Series:

Nancy Hanks, Mr. Lincoln, broadcast on the series Omnibus, CBS, c. 1952.

Charlotte Sandler, Good and Evil, ABC, 1991.

Denise Nostrand, Loving (also known as The City), ABC, 1994–1995.

Madame Ava, Guiding Light, CBS, 1998.

Sonya Cramer, One Life to Live, ABC, 1998.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Judge Susie Sharp, In the Best of Families: Marriage, Pride, and Madness (also known as Bitter Blood), CBS, 1994.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Secretary, Kate McShane, 1975.

Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein and a Companion, 1991.

Eleanor Roosevelt, Truman, HBO, 1995.

Abby Hedley, "1961," If These Walls Could Talk 2, HBO, 2000.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Macbeth, 1949.

The Star Wagon, PBS, 1967.

The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, CBS, 1988.

TGIF Comedy Preview, ABC, 1991.

The dean, "The Whole Shebang," General Motors Playwrights Theatre, Arts and Entertainment, 1993.

Voice, Buckminster Fuller: Thinking Out Loud, PBS, 1996.

Herself, "Shelley Winters—Full Disclosure," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 2001.

Herself, Theater Talk, PBS, 2001, 2003.

"Juilliard Documentary," American Masters, PBS, 2003.

Iva Stearns, "Plainsong," Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS, 2004.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Emily Bronte, "Our Sister Emily," Hallmark Hall of Fame, NBC, 1952.

"The Last Hour," Philco Television Playhouse, NBC, 1952.

Emilia, "Othello," Philco Television Playhouse, NBC, 1953.

May, "A Time for Heroes," Lux Video Theatre, CBS, 1953.

"Elegy," Philco Television Playhouse, NBC, 1953.

"The Laugh Maker," Studio One, CBS, 1953.

"The Threshold," Kraft Television Theatre, NBC, 1953.

"The Trial of John Peter Zenger," Studio One, CBS, 1953.

"A Woman for Tony," Kraft Television Theatre, NBC, 1955.

Mrs. Mary Cullen, "Indian White," Gunsmoke, CBS, 1956.

"The Breach," General Electric Theater, CBS, 1956.

Adelaide Baines, "The Victorian Chaise Lounge," General Electric Theater, CBS, 1957.

Christie Smith, "The Bride," Have Gun Will Travel, CBS, 1957.

Dorothy McAllister, "The Ted McAllister Story," The Millionaire, CBS, 1957.

Mary Widdicomb, "A Child Is Waiting," Studio One, CBS, 1957.

Betty, "On the Take," Climax, CBS, 1958.

Louise, "Bernadette" (also known as "Song of Bernadette"), Desilu Playhouse (also known as Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse), CBS, 1958.

Lydia, "Design for Loving," Alfred Hitchcock Presents, CBS, 1958.

Madame Molotov, "The Plot to Kill Stalin," Playhouse 90, CBS, 1958.

Martha, "The Frightened Wife," M Squad, NBC, 1958.

Mary K. Davis, "The Case of the Screaming Woman," Perry Mason, CBS, 1958.

Mary Morales, "The Mary Morales Case," The Court of Last Resort, NBC, 1958.

Mollie Stanton, "The Teacher," Have Gun Will Travel, CBS, 1958.

Roberta Farrell, "The Frank Clark Case," The Court of Last Resort, NBC, 1958.

Sophie, "The Last Test," Jane Wyman Theater (also known as Jane Wyman Presents the Fireside Theatre), NBC, 1958.

Widow Enga, "Rapunzel," Shirley Temple's Storybook, NBC, 1958.

Cora, "No Love Wasted," The Texan, CBS, 1959.

Olga, "Crime of Passion," Play of the Week, syndicated, 1959.

Ruth McCain/the vision/Hazel, "The Vision," The Rifleman, ABC, 1960.

"A Piece of Blue Sky," Play of the Week, syndicated, 1960.

Ethel, "The Bedside Murder," The Defenders, CBS, 1962.

Nan Morgan, "My Child on Monday Morning," East Side/West Side, CBS, 1963.

Lillian Conn, "The Sixth Alarm," The Defenders, CBS, 1964.

Neela, "The Bar Sinister," Branded, NBC, 1965.

Ida Colby, "The Falling Star," Mannix, CBS, 1968.

Marion, "Mother's Day," Kate & Allie, CBS, 1987.

Nanna, "Grandmommie Dearest," Who's the Boss?, ABC, 1991.

Suzanne, "God Bless the Child," Law & Order, NBC, 1991.

Lydia Winthrop, "The Witch's Curse," Murder, She Wrote, CBS, 1992.

Murphy's Aunt Brooke, "I'm Dreaming of a Brown Christmas," Murphy Brown, CBS, 1992.

"Aunt Julia," Walter & Emily, NBC, 1992.

Eleanor Kingsbury, "Death Becomes Him," Wings, NBC, 1995.

Suzanne Dark, "The History of Gil and Rachel," Central Park West (also known as CPW), CBS, 1995.

Elaine, "One Foot in Your Mouth," Cosby, CBS, 1996.

Miss Frye, "The Follies of WENN," Remember WENN, American Movie Classics, 1998.

Mrs. Big, "Oh Come All Ye Faithful," Sex and the City, HBO, 1998.

Virginia, "The Greatest Gift," Cosby, CBS, 1998.

Katerina "Kate" Risavitch, "Mora," The Others, NBC, 2000.

Dean Gibbons, "A Shot in the Dark," 100 Centre Street, Arts and Entertainment, 2001.

Mrs. Belle Pitcairn, "Door to Death," A Nero Wolfe Mystery, Arts and Entertainment, 2001.

Mrs. Louise Grantham Robilotti, "Champagne for One: Parts 1 & 2," A Nero Wolfe Mystery, Arts and Entertainment, 2001.

Elaine, "Genesis," The Education of Max Bickford, CBS, 2002.

Herself, Intimate Portrait: Joan Van Ark, Lifetime, 2002.

Betty, "Miss Right Now," Frasier, NBC, 2004.

Appeared as Doris in "To Forgive, Divine," an unaired episode of Trinity, NBC.

Television Appearances; Pilots:

Lillian Banion, Clarissa (also known as Clarissa, Now), CBS, 1995.

Clubhouse, CBS, 2004.

Radio Appearances; Series:

CBS Radio Mystery Theater, CBS, between 1974 and 1983.

Also appeared in Theatre Guild on the Air.



Gertrude Stein and Companion, Tapestry, 1987.

Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, Behrman House, 1996.


Narrator, The Courage of Sarah Noble, Newberry Award Records, 1978.


Marian Seldes as Willa Cather (also known as Willa Cather), Audio Partners, 1996.



The Bright Lights: A Theatre Life (autobiography), Houghton Mifflin, 1978.

Contributor of reviews to periodicals.


Time Together, Houghton Mifflin, 1981.



American Theatre, February, 1999, pp. 58–59.

Los Angeles Times, November 17, 1981.

New York Times Book Review, November 22, 1981.

Playbill, May 12, 1999.


Marian Seldes Official Site,, July 19, 2004.

Playbill Online,, January 30, 2001.,, October 19, 2000; January 10, 2002.

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