Buckley, Betty 1947- (Betty Lynn Buckley)
Buckley, Betty 1947- (Betty Lynn Buckley)
Full name, Betty Lynn Buckley; born July 3, 1947, in Big Spring (some sources cite Fort Worth), TX; daughter of Ernest (a dean of engineering and a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force) and Betty Bob (a dancer and journalist; maiden name, Diltz) Buckley; married Peter Flood (a director), 1972 (divorced, 1974; some sources cite 1979). Education: Texas Christian College, B.A., journalism; studied acting with Stella Adler and voice with Paul Gavert. Avocational Interests: Horses.
Agent—Innovative Artists Talent, 141 Fifth Ave., Third Floor, New York, NY 10010-7105; Stone Manners Talent and Literary, 900 Broadway, Suite 803, New York, NY 10003 and 6500 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Los Angeles, CA 90048.
Actress and singer. Instructor of theatre and music at various universities, schools, and conservatories. As a pageant participant, won the Miss Fort Worth pageant, 1966, won the Miss Texas pageant, 1966, and competed in the Miss America pageant, 1967, also toured Asian countries with Miss America and the USO (United Service Organizations), 1968; worked as a journalist for Fort Worth Press, beginning c. 1968; KO Productions and Records, founder (with Kevin Duncan), c. 1999; with the Casa Manana Theatre, has bestowed the Betty Lynn Buckley awards (Fort Worth, TX), beginning 2001, for high school musical theatre in Tarrant County, Texas.
Actors' Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
Evening Standard Award nomination, best actress in musical, 1970, for Promises, Promises; Antoinette Perry Award, best featured actress in a musical, and Drama Desk Award nomination, outstanding actress in a musical, both 1983, for Cats; Daytime Emmy Award nomination, outstanding performer in a children's program, 1985, for Bobby and Sarah; Outer Critics Circle Award nomination, best actress in a musical, c. 1988, for Carrie; Daytime Emmy Award nomination, outstanding performer in a children's special, 1989, for "Taking a Stand" (also known as "Our Own Kind"), ABC Afterschool Specials; Laurence Olivier Award nomination, best actress in a musical, Society of West End Theatre, c. 1994, for Sunset Boulevard; honorary doctorate of fine arts, Marymount Manhattan College, 1995, for Buckley's contribution to musical theatre; Civic Spirit Award, Women's City Club of New York, 1996; Antoinette Perry Award nomination, best actress in a musical, and Drama Desk Award nomination, outstanding actress in a musical, both 1998, for Triumph of Love; honorary degree, Boston Conservatory, 1998; Last Frontier Award, Edward Albee Theatre Conference, 2000, for "distinguished achievement in the American theatre"; Grammy Award nomination, best traditional pop vocal album, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 2001, for Stars and the Moon: Betty Buckley Live at the Donmar; Legend of Cabaret Award (with Kenny Werner), Nightlife awards (New York City), 2004; Lifetime Achievement Award, Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs, 2006; Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award, Back Stage Bistro awards, 2007; TV Land Award nomination, who knew they could sing?, 2007; named to the Texas Film Hall of Fame, 2007; named showstopper of the year, Lancome of Paris and New York Woman magazine.
Gypsy (musical), Casa Manana Theatre, Fort Worth, TX, c. 1962.
Martha Jefferson, 1776 (musical), Forty-Sixth Street Theatre, New York City, 1969-70, St. James Theatre, New York City, 1970-71, Majestic Theatre, New York City, 1971-72.
Fran Kubelik, Promises, Promises (musical), Prince of Wales Theatre, London, c. 1970.
Sara, The Ballad of Johnny Pot, Theatre Four, New York City, 1971.
What's a Nice Country Like You Doing in a State Like This? (revue), Upstairs at Jimmy's, New York City, 1972.
Catherine, Pippin (musical), Imperial Theatre, New York City, 1972-77.
Circle of Sound, off-Broadway production, 1977.
Heather, I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road (musical), New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theater, Anspacher Theater, New York City, 1978-81, Circle in the Square Downtown, New York City, 1980, Los Angeles, 1981.
Grizabella, Cats (musical), Winter Garden Theatre, New York City, 1982-84.
Cecilia Miller, Juno's Swans, Second Stage Theatre, McGinn-Cazale Theatre, New York City, 1985.
Emma, Song and Dance (musical), Royale Theatre, New York City, c. 1985-86.
Edwin Drood and Miss Alice Nutting, The Mystery of Edwin Drood (musical; later known as Drood), New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theater, Delacorte Theater, New York City, 1985, Imperial Theatre, 1985-87.
Margaret White, Carrie (musical), Virginia Theatre, New York City, 1988.
Stardust (musical), John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC, 1989.
Herself, Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York City, 1992.
Mama Rose, Gypsy (musical), Southern Arizona Light Opera Company, 1992.
Pirate Jenny, The Threepenny Opera (musical theatre), Williamstown Theatre Festival, Main Stage, Williamstown, MA, 1992.
Alone Together: Betty Buckley in Concert (solo show; also known as Alone Together), Williamstown Theatre Festival, 1992.
Paula Harte, The Perfectionist, McCarter Theatre, Princeton, NJ, 1993.
The Fourth Wall, Chicago, IL, 1993.
George and Ira Gershwin: A Musical Celebration, 1993.
Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard (musical), Adelphi Theatre, London, beginning 1994, Minskoff Theatre, New York City, 1995-96.
The London Concert, London, 1995.
Betty Buckley: An Evening at Carnegie Hall (also known as An Evening at Carnegie Hall and An Evening with Betty Buckley), Carnegie Hall, 1996.
Hesione, Triumph of Love (musical), Royale Theatre, 1997-98.
Mama Rose, Gypsy (musical), Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn, NJ, 1998.
Claire and Miriam, The Eros Trilogy, Vineyard Theatre, New York City, 1999.
Marguerite Gautier, Camino Real, Hartford Stage Company, Hartford, CT, 1999.
Stars and the Moon: Betty Buckley Live at the Donmar (also known as Stars and the Moon and Stars and the Moon: Live at the Donmar), part of the Divas at the Donmar Series, Donmar Warehouse, London, 2000.
Great American Songbook Series, Lincoln Center, New York City, 2001, 2007.
Amanda, Buffalo Gal, Studio Arena Theatre, Buffalo, NY, 2002.
Elegies—A Song Cycle (also known as Elegies), Lincoln Center, Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, New York City, 2003.
Singular Sensations, Village Theatre, New York City, 2003.
Children and Art (benefit tribute; also known as Children and Art: A Tribute to Stephen Sondheim on the Eve of His 75th Birthday), New Amsterdam Theatre, New York City, 2005.
Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard (reading of film screenplay), Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, Los Angeles, 2006.
The Public Sings (benefit), Public Theater, New York City, 2006.
Singin' for My Supper, Feinstein's at the Regency, Regency Hotel, New York City, 2007.
Appeared in other productions, including productions with the Casa Manana Theatre. Cabaret, club, and concert performer with various musical artists and at various venues, including the Bottom Line, Rainbow & Stars, and Cafe Carlyle, all New York City. Performer in revues at Six Flags over Texas amusement park, beginning c. 1963.
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Music of the Night (also known as Music of the Night), U.S. cities, 1996.
Television Appearances; Series:
Sandra Sue "Abby" Abbott Bradford, Eight Is Enough, ABC, 1977-81.
Suzanne Fitzgerald, Oz (also known as Kylmae rinki, Oz—A vida e uma prisao, and Oz—livet bak murene), HBO, 2001-2003.
(In archive footage) Grizabella, Broadway: The American Musical, PBS, 2004.
Television Appearances; Miniseries:
Mrs. Bradford, Evergreen, NBC, 1985.
Ella, Roses Are for the Rich, CBS, 1987.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Barbara Slaner, The Ordeal of Bill Carney, CBS, 1981.
Nancy Grier, The Three Wishes of Billy Grier, ABC, 1984.
Bobby and Sarah, NBC, 1984.
Wanda, Babycakes (also known as Big Girls Don't Cry and Sugarbaby), CBS, 1989.
Mrs. Parker, Bonnie & Clyde: The True Story (also known as Bonnie and Clyde: The Real Story), Fox, 1992.
Dr. Jan Galanti, Betrayal of Trust (also known as Under the Influence), NBC, 1994.
Dr. Margaret Ludlow, Critical Choices, Showtime, 1996.
Mary Margaret Grier, Vinegar Hill, CBS, 2005.
Television Appearances; Specials:
The Devil's Work, PBS, c. 1970.
Herself, Salute to Lady Liberty, CBS, 1984.
Lillian Robinson, "Taking a Stand" (also known as "Our Own Kind"), ABC Afterschool Specials, ABC, 1989.
Herself, "Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall," Great Performances, PBS, 1993.
Gospel reader, The Life and Times of Jesus: The First Christmas, The Learning Channel, 1993.
Herself, Starskates on Broadway, NBC, 1999.
Herself, Broadway on Broadway, NBC, 2000.
Herself, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, NBC, 2001.
(In archive footage) Herself, "Broadway's Lost Treasures," Great Performances, PBS, 2003.
Narrator, Macy's 4th of July Spectacular, NBC, 2003.
Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, CBS, 1982.
The 37th Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 1983.
The 43rd Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 1989.
The 52nd Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 1998.
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, CBS, 2006.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
Herself, "On Stage: Miss America," The Kraft Music Hall, NBC, 1971.
Woman, Ryan's Hope, ABC, c. 1977.
Herself, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (also known as The Best of Carson), NBC, 1984 (multiple episodes), 1985.
Marci Bruckman, "You've Come a Long Way, Baby," Cagney & Lacey, CBS, 1987.
Elisa Chandler, "Something Old, Something Nude," L.A. Law, NBC, 1991.
Elisa Chandler, "TV or Not TV," L.A. Law, NBC, 1991.
Sally Storm, "The Case of the Mystery Weekend," Mathnet, broadcast on Square One TV, PBS, 1992.
Ruth, "The Rainmaker," Tribeca, Fox, 1993.
Gloria Redmond, "Christmas in the Airwaves," Remember WENN, American Movie Classics, 1996.
Narrator, Intimate Portrait: Audrey Hepburn, Lifetime, 1996.
Narrator, Intimate Portrait: Eve, Lifetime, 1996.
Narrator, Intimate Portrait: Virgin Mary, Lifetime, 1996.
Herself, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1996, 1998, 2001 (multiple episodes).
Herself, "Betty Buckley in Concert and in Person," Bravo Profiles (also known as Bravo Profiles: Betty Buckley in Concert and in Person), Bravo, 1999.
Host, "Yours for a Song: The Women of Tin Pan Alley," American Masters, PBS, 1999.
Herself, "Eight Is Enough," The E! True Hollywood Story (also known as Eight Is Enough: The E! True Hollywood Story and THS), E! Entertainment Television, 2000.
Herself, "Dick Van Patten: The Sure Bet," Biography (also known as A&E Biography: Dick Van Patten), Arts and Entertainment, 2001.
Herself, Good Morning America (also known as GMA), ABC, 2002.
Mrs. Fleming, "Mr. Monk Goes to the Theater," Monk, USA Network, 2003.
Carla Kohler, "Last Rites," The Jury (also known as The Circuit), Fox, 2004.
Herself, "Rose," Character Studies, PBS, 2005.
Herself, Breakfast with the Arts, Arts and Entertainment, 2005.
Attorney, "Clock," Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (also known as Law & Order's Sex Crimes, Law & Order: SVU, and Special Victims Unit), NBC, 2006.
Attorney, "Manipulated," Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (also known as Law & Order's Sex Crimes, Law & Order: SVU, and Special Victims Unit), NBC, 2006.
Catherine Ryder, "Expectations," Without a Trace (also known as Vanished and W.A.T.), CBS, 2006.
Herself, Today (also known as NBC News Today and The Today Show), NBC, 2007.
Some sources cite Buckley as the narrator of Intimate Portrait: Katharine Hepburn, Lifetime, c. 1998.
Television Appearances; Pilots:
Rosie, The Rubber Gun Squad, NBC, 1977.
Appeared as Iva Walker in the unaired pilot of Brothers & Sisters, ABC.
Miss Collins, Carrie, United Artists, 1976.
Dixie Scott, Tender Mercies, Universal, 1982.
Leah (bag lady), Wild Thing (also known as Asphalt Kid), Atlantic Releasing, 1987.
Kathy, Another Woman, Orion, 1988.
Sondra Walker, Frantic (also known as Frenetic), Warner Bros., 1988.
Beverly Goldring, Rain without Thunder, Orion Classics, 1992.
Maxine "Maxie" Black, Last Time Out, 1994.
Virginia Earp, Wyatt Earp, Warner Bros., 1994.
Gus, Ride for Your Life, Interfilms, 1995.
(In unused footage) The Horse Whisperer, Buena Vista, 1998.
Aunt Stella, Simply Irresistible (also known as The Magic Hour, Vanilla Fog, and Einfach unwiderstehlich), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1999.
Rose Kross, Noon Blue Apples (also known as New World Order), Shoreline Entertainment, 2002.
Let, Mummy an' the Armadillo, Sandstorm Films, 2004.
Margaret Nolan, Funny Peculiar, 4th Row Productions, 2007.
The Happening (also known as The Green Effect and Green Planet), Twentieth Century-Fox, 2008.
Herself, Broadway: The Next Generation (documentary), Second Act Productions, 2009.
Some sources cite an appearance in Cut and Dry.
Voice of Desiree Armfeldt, A Little Night Music (musical), BBC Radio 2, 1995.
The London Concert, BBC Radio 2, 1995.
Herself, Acting "Carrie," Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 2001.
Herself, Singing "Carrie": Carrie—The Musical, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 2001.
Herself, Stars and the Moon: Betty Buckley Live at the Donmar (also known as Stars and the Moon and Stars and the Moon: Live at the Donmar), Image Entertainment, 2002.
(In archive footage) Dixie Scott, Miracles & Mercies (short), Anchor Bay Entertainment, 2002.
(As Betty Lynn Buckley) Stars and the Moon: Betty Buckley Live at the Donmar (also known as Stars and the Moon and Stars and the Moon: Live at the Donmar), Image Entertainment, 2002.
Betty Buckley 1967, recorded 1967, released by Playbill Records, 2007.
Hair (soundtrack), RCA, 1979.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood (cast recording), Varese and Polydor, 1985.
Betty Buckley, Rizzoli Records, c. 1986.
Children Will Listen, Sterling Records, 1993.
With One Look, Sterling Records, 1994.
Betty Buckley: The London Concert (also known as The London Concert), BBC Audio International, Ltd., 1995.
Betty Buckley: An Evening at Carnegie Hall (also known as An Evening at Carnegie Hall and An Evening with Betty Buckley), Sterling Records, 1996.
Much More, Sterling Records, 1997.
Betty Buckley's "Broadway," Sterling Records, 1999.
Betty Buckley: Fifteen Year Anniversary (also known as Fifteen Year Anniversary and Betty Buckley: Fifteen Year Anniversary Re-Release), KO Records, 2000.
Heart to Heart, KO Records, 2000.
Stars and the Moon: Betty Buckley Live at the Donmar (also known as Stars and the Moon and Stars and the Moon: Live at the Donmar), Concord Jazz, 2001.
The Doorway, Varese Sarabande, 2002.
Appeared in cast recordings, soundtracks, and recordings by other artists.
"Walking in Space" (from Hair), 1979.
Larry McMurtry, Buffalo Girls, Simon & Schuster Audio, 1990.
Mary Higgins Clark, A Stranger Is Watching, Simon & Schuster Audio, 1991.
Janet Dailey, Aspen Gold, Random House Audiobooks, 1991.
Ann Rule, Everything She Ever Wanted: A True Story of Obsessive Love, Murder & Betrayal (also known as Everything She Ever Wanted), Simon & Schuster Audio, 1992.
Kate Morgenroth, Kill Me First, HarperAudio, 1999.
Television Music; Specials:
(With others) "Taking a Stand" (also known as "Our Own Kind"), ABC Afterschool Specials, ABC, 1989.
(With others) "My Love and I," from the album With One Look, Sterling Records, 1994.
Entertainment Weekly, October 3, 1997, p. 96.
Movieline, June, 1998, p. 34.
People Weekly, September 4, 1995, p. 93.
Playbill, February 28, 2002, p. 32.
Texas Monthly, September, 1995, p. 124.
Betty Buckley.com,http://www.bettybuckley.com, September 7, 2007.
"Buckley, Betty 1947- (Betty Lynn Buckley)." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/buckley-betty-1947-betty-lynn-buckley
"Buckley, Betty 1947- (Betty Lynn Buckley)." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved July 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/buckley-betty-1947-betty-lynn-buckley
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
Singer, songwriter, actress
Critics like to call Betty Buckley the underground diva, primarily because the most significant work of her career is unfamiliar to those who do not frequent Broadway theaters. Many consider hers the finest voice on the contemporary American stage, yet most people think of her fondly as television’s favorite stepmom, Ab by Bradford of the late Seventies ABC-TV hit Eight is Enough. Yet Buckley’s Tony award-winning performance as Grizabella in the Broadway production of Catsmade the song “Memory” an American classic, and the Texasborn actress’s replacement of Glenn Close in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevardhad the press talking for months. With all of these accomplishments Betty Buckley is still not a household name, but much of that was her own decision.
Betty Lynn Buckley was born in Fort Worth on July 3, 1947, where her aunt began giving her dance lessons at age three. By five she was singing in the church choir, but her father, a fundamentalist Christian, strongly discouraged Buckley from a performance career. I ronically, her mother, a former singer and dancer, encouraged Betty. Although she’d initially planned to be a rodeo star—and was already quite good—at 13 Betty listened raptly to every note of Judy Garland’s live Carnegie Hall album and was inspired. In college, Buckley competed in the 1966 Miss Fort Worth pageant and won. Although she was only a runner-up in the subsequent Miss Texas contest, the producers of the Miss America show were so impressed by her voice they asked her to sing during the television broadcast from Atlantic City.
At 21 Buckley graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in journalism to please her father. After a Miss America USO tour and while working as a teen reporter for the Forth Worth paper, an agent asked her to come to New York. Within two hours of her arrival she was auditioning for her first Broadway musical. When asked how long she’d been in town by those involved in what would become the smash hit 1776, the novice just cast as Martha Washington responded, “What time is it?” From there Buckley went on to star in the London company of Promises, Promises, where she was nominated by the London critics for Best Musical Performer. She later replaced Jill Clayburgh for a two-and-a-half-year run as Catherine in Bob Fosse’s Pippin, then went on to critical raves starring in Gretchen Cryer’s off-Broadway feminist play I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road.
Just before leaving Texas Buckley met Peter Flood, whom she would marry in 1972. She admits now that it was mostly to ease pressure from her parents and she and Flood divorced in 1974, but the two remained friends. The time was also a period of pain and emotional confusion for Buckley. She began seeing a psychiatrist and
Born July 3, 1947, in Fort Worth, TX, daughter of Ernest (a former Air Force colonel turned engineering professor) and Betty Bob (in theater public relations, former singer and dancer) Buckley. Married Peter Flood, 1972 (divorced, 1974). Education: Journalism degree from Texas Christian University, c. 1968.
Began performing in Fort Worth productions during adolescence; singing and acting debut on Broadway in 1776, 1969-70; other Broadway performances include Pippin, 1973-75, Cats, 1982-84, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, 1985-86, Song And Dance, c. 1987, Carrie, 1988, and Sunset Boulevard, 1995—; off-Broadway productions include I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking it on The Road, 1981, and Juno’s Swans, 1985; starred in London companies of Promises, Promises, 1970-71, and Sunset Boulevard, 1994-95; made feature film debut in Carrie, 1976; other film roles include Tender Mercies, 1983, Wild Thing, 1987, Another Woman, 1988, Frantic, 1988, Rain Without Thunder, 1993, Wyatt Earp, 1994, and Ride for Your Life, 1995; television debut, Eight is Enough, ABC-TV, 1977; acting teacher, c. 1971-.
Selected Awards: Tony Award as Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Cats, 1982; honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Marymount Manhattan College, 1995.
also started what would develop into a lifelong study of world religion, eastern philosophy, and meditation.
Buckley was doing film voice replacement work for director Brian De Palma when he offered her the role of the gym teacher in Carrie, her first film. The sympathetic character attracted the attention of Lorimar Studios and they asked Buckley to replace the late Diana Hyland, an actress who recently passed away from cancer after the spring try-out of a new ABC drama called Eight is Enough. Although she had never considered television before, the offer was more money than she could refuse, so Buckley signed on as Abby Bradford. Work on television was a struggle at first: it wasn’t easy for a 29-year-old actress to step into an already-established television family, and this medium’s production was not like that of musical theater—to Buckley doing television seemed to have a factory-like quality to it. And besides, as she told Paul Wontorek in Theater Week, “They tried to lock me in the kitchen and put me in muumuus….ln the beginning, it was a real struggle to make her hip. They wanted me to be like something from the ’50s.”
As a child of the 1960s, and as a performer, Buckley felt almost destined to have trouble with drugs and alcohol. During her time in Hollywood she lived at the famed Chateau Marmont, becoming close with another of the hotel’s famous residents, actor and comedian John Belushi. They took drugs together, but it was watching Belushi’s descent into hell that eventually made her realize she did not have to follow suit. After her first two years on Eight is Enough, Buckley cleaned up. When the show was canceled after four years, Buckley was simultaneously saddened and elated. Although many suggested she was doomed to play mothers all her life, she promptly proved them wrong by playing Robert Duvall’s nasty country singer ex-wife in the Academy Award-winning film Tender Mercies; Buckley also performed the film’s Oscar-nominated song “Over You.”
In 1982 Buckley auditioned for the part of Grizabella in Cats, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation of a book of poems by T.S. Eliot. “They wanted someone who conveyed vulnerability,” Buckley explained to Paul Buetel in Southwest Airlines Magazine. “They felt I conveyed health and well-being, which is funny, because that’s what I’ve always tried ’to convey. But I knew I had the ability to play that part.” Buckley won the role and won a Tony Award in 1983 for her performance. Her rendition of the song “Memory” is regarded by many as the quintessential version.
Buckley left Cats during the peak of its run; after a year and a half it was time to move on. She did several films for television and an Off-Broadway appearance in Juno’s Swans. In 1985 Buckley took on the roles of three different characters in Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a play within a play based on an unfinished novel of Charles Dickens. “After Cats I was looking for something lighter and more joyful,” she told USA Todays Richard David Story. “Grizabella is a very sad creature, and she took her toll on me. I said, ’Enough death, dying and rejection. I want to have fun…. [In Drood] I playasort of English music-hall actress who impersonates a young man who himself is actually playing an old seafaring captain.” The show promptly moved on to Broadway and once again Buckley was a hit.
Taking time off from Broadway for a while, Buckley tried her hand at the cabaret/nightclub circuit. Performing an eclectic bunch of songs—including several of her own creation—Buckley wowed audiences. Praised for her exquisite voice, moving song interpretation, and general ease with an audience, one critic, in the Daily Advertiser, thought “so comfortable was the evening that when [Buckley] walked off stage at intermission, I almost expected her to ask, ’Can I get you anything while I’m up?” The accolades were unanimous.
In 1988 Buckley had what she considered the best working experience of her life thus far, but what also constituted Broadway’s costliest flop ever: Carrie, a musical version of the best-selling Stephen King novel and also Buckley’s first role on celluloid. It was also an eight-million-dollar disaster. Ever since the movie version, Buckley had ached to sink her teeth into the role of Carrie’s unbalanced mother. As has often been the case in her career, Buckley’s work was praised by all who saw it, while the play around her was trashed by critics. The play’s brief run still won her a nomination for Best Actress in a Musical from the Outer Critics’ Circle, however. Buckley spent the next several years honing her craft in prolonged engagements of her one-woman cabaret show, constantly delighting audiences and receiving rave reviews for both Carnegie Hall and road tour performances. She also appeared in television and several feature films including Roman Polanski’s Frantic, Woody Allen’s Another Woman, and Kevin Costner’s Wyatt Earp.
I n the mid-1990s Buckley became a figure in the media hype surrounding Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage version of Sunset Boulevard. The to-and-fro involving Lloyd Webber and the leading ladies in his adaptation of the 1950 Billy Wilder film gave the press fodder for over a year. Patti LuPone originated the role of Norma Desmond, unhinged former silent movie queen first played by Gloria Swanson, in London. When she found she would not be playing the role in its American debut in Los Angeles as promised, she quit. Buckley, whom many had thought would be considered for the role in the first place, replaced LuPone in London and won rave reviews as well as a nomination for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
Film star Glenn Close took over the Desmond role for Sunset Boulevards Los Angeles debut, and moved with it to Broadway, where her stage histrionics won her acclaim and a Tony. When Close left the show, Buckley was asked to take over, and the media was ready to pounce. But the show’s producers smoothed the way with critics and theatergoers for an easy transition, and the new opening night starring Buckley was an overwhelming success—the audience leapt to its feet twice during the show, and cast members actually stepped out of character to applaud her. “Buckley is, bottom line, absolutely sensational as the musicalized Norma Desmond,” wrote Robert Osborne in The Hollywood Reporter, “the best yet in fact, and I’ve seen ’em all….she has a voice that is one of the wonders of the world. In addition, she acts the role with great style, pizzazz and, above all, intelligence.” Only Vincent Canby of the New York Times, an avowed Close/Desmond fan, had trouble buying Buckley’s softer, more human version of Norma. Some industry-watchers actually considered Buckley’s extraordinary talent a problem, making it suddenly apparent just how mediocre a show Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard was when dimmed by the light of her performance.
Betty Buckley has spent a lifetime in the musical theater, on television, and in films. She has worked strenuously at her craft and has often purposefully chosen to take the road less likely to lead to the stardom, and it seems to have paid off. Forty-seven years old when she first took up the reigns of Norma Desmond, Buckley she felt as if she were just then getting her true chance. As she told Randall Short of New York, “I feel like this racehorse that’s been dying for a big race. A really good, fast little racehorse. And finally the heavy hitters are putting their money on me.”
(With others) 1776 (original cast recording), Columbia, 1969.
(With others) Cats (original cast recording), Geffen, 1983.
(With others) The Mystery of Edwin Drood (original cast recording), Polygram, 1986.
Betty Buckley Rizzoli, 1987.
Children Will Listen, Sterling, 1993.
With One Look, Sterling, 1994.
Betty Buckley — The London Concert, Sterling, 1995.
American Film, June 1991.
American Record Guide, September 1992.
Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), September 12, 1992.
Back Stage, June 21, 1991; April 24, 1992.
Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco), October 28, 1988.
Berkshire Eagle, June 27, 1992.
Billboard, October 21, 1995.
Chatelaine, May 1988.
Chicago Tribune, May 6, 1993.
City Life (Scottsdale), April 16, 1986.
Commonweal, April 8, 1988.
Daily Advertiser (Lafayette), October 4, 1986.
Daily News (New York), April 27, 1980; May 17, 1983; June 11, 1990; June 29, 1990; July 23, 1995.
Daily Variety, July 24, 1995.
Dallas Morning News, November 1, 1984; December 7, 1990; July 10, 1992; September 17, 1995.
Drama-Logue, April 23, 1987.
Entertainment Weekly, August 25, 1995.
Florida Times Union (Jacksonville), January 31, 1984.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 26, 1986; December 6, 1990; December 8, 1990.
Gannett Westchester Newspapers, May 12 1988.
Gay Chicago Magazine, May 13, 1993.
Glamour, March 1993.
Hollywood Reporter, July 25, 1995.
Library Journal, March 1, 1991; January 1993.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner, February 10, 1981.
Los Angeles Times, June 30, 1983.
Maclean’s, March 14, 1988.
Nation, June 4, 1988.
National Catholic Reporter, December 2, 1988.
National Review, August 15, 1994.
New Leader, June 27, 1988.
New York, June 10, 1985; October 24, 1988; June 22, 1992; July 24, 1995; August 7, 1995.
New York Newsday, June 8, 1995; September 11, 1995.
New York Post, February 27, 1987; June 14, 1990; June 29, 1995; July 6, 1995; July 21, 1995.
New York Times, August 23, 1985; June 15, 1990.
New Yorker, March 21, 1988; May 23, 1988; November 21, 1994.
Newsweek, March 7, 1988; May 23, 1988; June 22, 1992; July 31, 1995.
Parade, July 2, 1995.
People, March 7, 1988; February 13, 1989; March 7, 1994; September 4, 1995.
Playbill, July 17, 1993; August 31, 1995.
Playboy, February 1993.
Premiere, February 1990.
Press Journal (New York), July 5, 1990.
Publishers Weekly, February 1, 1991; June 7, 1991.
Scranton Times, October 14, 1990.
Show Music, Fall 1993.
Southwest Airlines Magazine, July 1983.
Theater Week, July 29, 1991; June 29, 1992; July 17, 1995; August 7, 1995.
Time, March 14, 1988; May 23, 1988; May 30, 1988.
Tube View, July 15, 1981.
Up and Coming, November 1988.
USA Today, August 22, 1985; February 26, 1988; July 6, 1995; July 21, 1995.
Variety, March 2, 1988; May 18, 1988; October 12, 1988; February 1, 1989; March 29, 1989; February 14, 1990; July 4, 1990; March 1, 1993; October 18, 1993; April 25, 1994.
Vegetarian Times, October 1984.
Washington Post, April 28, 1983.
Wilson Library Bulletin, April 1991.
Additional information for this profile was provided by Richard Komberg & Associates publicity materials, 1995 and a Reuter newswire report of June 23, 1988.
"Buckley, Betty." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/buckley-betty
"Buckley, Betty." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved July 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/buckley-betty
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
Singer, songwriter, actress
For her popular roles, from “Abby Bradford” to “Grizabella,” Betty Buckley has won a wide and devoted audience. She has received high critical praise on television, in film, on and off-Broadway, and in the recording studio. In twenty years in music and theater, she has become known as a performer who is not afraid to take chances with her appearence, her roles, her voice, and her career.
A self-described “Air Force brat” raised in Fort Worth, Texas, Buckley fell in love with the theater after seeing her first show, “Pajama Game,” as she later told the New York Post, “with Bob Fosse’s original choreography. And when they got to the ‘Steam Heat’ number, I said, Oh, wow. I want to do that, whatever that is, for the rest of my life.’” Buckley’s memories of her childhood also include a self-imposed apprenticeship to the great song stylists of recordings. “I remember a specific image of myself,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 1985, “I’m 13 years old and I’m in a bathtub…listening to Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall …. I’m a very good listener and I knew every note of that album. Judy Garland taught me singing and Ella Fitzgerald taught me phrasing.” Buckley earned a degree in journalism and toured with a Miss America USO troupe (as Miss Fort Worth) before moving to New York to be in the theater. She was cast as “Martha Jefferson” in the Broadway hit “1776” after her very first audition in 1969 and spent the next five years playing leading roles in musical comedies on and off-Broadway and in London.
Buckley became famous nation-wide when, in 1977, she was cast as “Abby Bradford,” the stepmother to the “Eight is Enough” family on the ABC hit series. The dramatic role brought her fans and critical acclaim for her sympathetic portrayal of a young second wife. Film roles followed, including her portrayal of the ex-wife of a country-and-western singer (Robert Duvall) in the 1983 “Tender Mercies.” Buckley appeared in the feminist musical comedy, “I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road,” by Gretchen Cryer, in Los Angeles and New York during breaks from other projects in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
However, her greatest challenge came with her return to Broadway as “Grizabella” in “Cats.” The British musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and T.S. Elliot was still selling out every performance in London when auditions began for its New York run. The success of the show was due in part to the widespread popularity of “Grizabella’s” ballad, “Memories.” Not only was the London cast recording, with the “Grizabella” of Elaine Page, widely known in America, but new singles of the ballad by such stars as Judy Collins and Barbra Streisand were becoming top sellers. The song comes at the end of the long musical and precedes a dangerous ascent to the theatre ceiling (called “the heavyside layer”) on a
Full name, Betty Lynn Buckley; born 1948, in Big Spring, Tex.; father was in the U.S. Air Force and later worked in construction; mother worked for Ft. Worth (Tex.) Music Fair; married Peter Rood (an acting coach), 1972 (divorced, 1979). Education: Texas Christian University, B.A. in journalism, c. 1968. Religion: Jain Buddhist.
Actress in films, Broadway musicals, and on television; stage appearances include “1776,” 1969, “I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road,” “Cats,” 1982, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” 1985, “Song and Dance,” 1986, “Into the Woods,” 1987, and “Carrie,” 1988; feature films include “Carrie,” 1976, and “Tender Mercies,” 1983; regular member of cast of television series “Eight Is Enough,” 1977-81. Also has performed a cabaret act in clubs; songwriter, 1973—.
Awards: Tony Award for best featured actress in a musical, 1983, for “Cats.”
Addresses: Agent —International Creative Management, 49 West 57th St., New York, NY 10019.
cherry-picker/tire. To make things even worse, the show’s sophisticated body microphone system failed just before Buckley’s entrance. As she later told Tom Tomasulo of the New York Daily News: “It was a different kind of pressure where you had to deliver better than your best…. When you come from behind with a show, people don’t know what to expect—it’s easier to delight people. Whereas when you have such expectations placed upon you, its very hard to impress people…. I just went out and sang as loud as I could.”
Buckley impressed so many people as “Grizabella” that she was awarded the Tony Award as best featured actress in a musical in 1983. When the Broadway cast recording was released later that year, her performance of “Memories” received high praise. Buckley has never been afraid to appear in odd roles or, following her triumph with “Memories,” in roles premiered by other actresses. After “Cats” and dramatic film roles, she portrayed “Alice Nutting,” the male impersonator who appeared as Edwin Drood in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” a 1985 musical comedy by Rupert Holmes based on Charles Dickens’s final, unfinished novel. Since Dickens had never solved his mystery, the musical version invited the audience to vote on its own solution at each performance. The cast had to learn alternative final scenes depending on the audience’s interpretation of the clues. In recent seasons, Buckley has replaced Bernadette Peters in Lloyd Webber’s “Song and Dance” (1986) for the last six weeks of its Broadway run and has performed in the workshop version of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” (1987).
Her most recent role on stage was a return to a film property with which she had long been associated. Having played the sympathetic role of the gym teacher in Brian De Palma’s thriller, “Carrie” (1976), she accepted the highly negative role of the mother, “Margaret,” in the 1988 musical version. Buckley had to replace Barbara Cook, the Broadway legend who created the role in England but, as she told Diana Maychick in the New York Post, she was thrilled by the challenge of creating the emotionally charged character of “a Bible-spouting hellfire.” “I gave Margaret a history. Although it’s not clear in the book [by Stephen King] or the movie or even in our version here, I chose to believe that Margaret wasn’t married when she had Carrie. Consequently, she feels tremendous guilt over her own sexuality…. She’s fearful for her daughter making the same mistakes at the same time she feels punished by Carrie’s existence…. The show is a metaphor for life … a ballad of high school as life.”
Buckley has been writing songs (”mostly heartbreak ballads”) since 1973 and often includes them in her cabaret acts. She described her 1987 Atlantic City act as “very musical, very soothing [with] a lot of really good songs in it, but songs people are not familiar with. I do ‘Memories,’ of course, but about 70% of the music people haven’t heard before.” She has recorded her own feminist ballads on the album that bears her name which was recorded live at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York.
1776 (original cast recording), Columbia, 1969.
Cats (original cast recording), Geffen, 1982.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood (original cast recording), Polydor, 1985.
Betty Buckley, Rizzoli, 1987.
Drama-logue, July 2-8, 1981.
Louisville Courier-Journal & Times, December 2, 1973.
Los Angeles Times, June 30, 1983.
New York Daily News, March 1, 1983; November 24, 1985; December 10, 1986; February 27, 1987.
New York Post, May 12, 1988.
"Buckley, Betty." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/buckley-betty-0
"Buckley, Betty." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved July 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/buckley-betty-0