Seldes, Marian

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SELDES, MARIAN (1928– ), U.S. actress. Born in New York City to critic Gilbert and Alice (née Hall) Seldes, as a teenager Seldes studied with the American Ballet from 1941 to 1944, debuting on stage in Petrouchka (1942). In her late teens she changed her focus to acting and enrolled in the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, making her stage acting debut with the Cambridge Summer Theater in 1945. After graduating at 19, Seldes made her Broadway debut in Medea (1947) in a small role as the attendant to the title character. After supporting roles in Crime and Punishment (1947), That Lady (1949), The Tower Beyond Tragedy (1950), and The High Ground (1951), Seldes made her silver-screen debut in The Lonely Night (1952). Seldes returned to Broadway for Ondine (1954) and The Chalk Garden (1955) before trying her hand in Hollywood again with the films The True Story of Jesse James (1957), Crime and Punishment (1959), and Crime and Passion (1959). In 1960, she returned to New York for the Broadway play The Wall (1960) and then went on to star in original Broadway productions, including Tennessee William's The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (1964) and Edward Albee's Tiny Alice (1965) and A Delicate Balance (1966), which earned her a Tony Award for best actress. In 1968, Seldes began teaching drama at the Julliard School, a position she held for 22 years. After her turn in Equus from 1974 to 1976, she starred as the murdered wife of a playwright in Deathtrap, a role that lasted from 1978 to 1982. In 1981, she wrote the novel Time Together. In 1990, Seldes married writer-director Garson *Kanin. After leaving Julliard, Seldes returned to Hollywood to portray Alice B Toklas in Gertrude Stein and a Companion and Charlotte Sandler, the mother to Terri Garr's character in the short-lived sitcom Good and Evil. Following more television work, Seldes returned to Broadway for Ivanov (1997), which included one-time Seldes student Kevin Kline. Less than two months after the March 13 death of Kanin, Seldes came to the aid of Ring Round the Moon (1999) after the actress portraying Madame Desmermor fell ill; the role earned her a Drama Desk and a Tony Award nomination. Other award-nominated turns followed in The Butterfly Collection (2001), The Play about the Baby (2001), and Dinner at Eight (2003).


"Seldes, Marian," in: Contemporary Authors (2001). website:, Marian Seldes –Internet Broadway Database; Internet Movie Database.

[Adam Wills (2nd ed.)]