Taylor, Laurette (1884–1946)

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Taylor, Laurette (1884–1946)

American stage actress, considered one of the finest of the early 20th century, whose often troubled career ended in triumph with her creation of Amanda Wing-field in The Glass Menagerie. Born Loretta Cooney on April 1, 1884, in New York City; died on December 7, 1946, in New York; first of three children of James Cooney and Elizabeth Cooney; married Charles A. Taylor (a producer), in 1901 (divorced 1910); married J. Hartley Manners (an English playwright), in 1911 (died 1928); children: (first marriage) Dwight (b. 1902); Marguerite (b. 1904).

Made her professional stage debut (c. 1900); became the toast of Broadway for her work in The Girl in Waiting (1910); secured her reputation in Peg o' My Heart (1912), in which she played for nearly three years; her career, built on a series of optimistic, simple-hearted characters, languished during the more cynical 1920s, forcing her retirement from the stage; returned briefly to the stage (late 1930s–early 1940s), most notably with her portrayal of Amanda Wingfield in the original production of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie (1945).


Peg o' My Heart (1922); Happiness (1924); One Night in Rome (1924).

It was a sad tale for a 12-year-old girl to tell, especially since Loretta Cooney's seventh-grade teacher had not been expecting such a melodramatic response to her request for a short biographical essay from each of her students. But on that spring day in 1896, Loretta moved everyone in the room to tears, including the teacher, with her poignant revelation that she was the result of an ill-fated but tender love affair between her mother and a Spanish count. "When you look into my mother's eyes," Loretta explained solemnly, "you may realize at times that she is longing for faraway Spain." The fact that it was all nonsense, or that it spread gossip around the neighborhood that her father was a cuckold, or that it threw her already fractious household into more turmoil, was of little consequence to Loretta. What counted was that she had held another audience captive with what James Cooney angrily referred to as his daughter's "imaginings."

Both James and Elizabeth Cooney were hard pressed to explain their eldest child's indefatigable dramatic flair. Elizabeth—like her husband, a first generation Irish American—was a hardworking dressmaker and milliner, while James was an unemployed harness and saddle-maker who alternated between fits of melancholy drinking and fervent Catholicism. The Cooneys were one of hundreds of Irish, German, and Italian families who had settled in the thriving Mount Morris Park section of New York City during the last half of the 19th century. Loretta's birth (with a caul, as the superstitious James always pointed out) on April 1, 1884, was followed by the births of two more children over the next four years, although neither of her younger siblings, Elizabeth and Edward, seemed to share their sister's theatrical orientation.

Both Loretta's father and grandmother—Bridget Cooney , who lived with her son and daughter-in-law—looked upon all "show people" as sinners and never set foot in a theater in their lives. But Loretta's mother, better educated and less devout than her husband, loved the theater. She would often use the delivery of a just-finished dress as an excuse to take in the latest show at the Harlem Opera House, just across town. The inevitable friction between the conservative and the contemporary resulted in frequent outbursts, threats, and the occasional physical assault. "Mine was not a placid family," Taylor drily noted many years later.

It must have seemed to James that his wife was winning the war for his daughter's soul. The Spanish count incident was just one of many. There was the time Loretta, noticing that a French girl attracted a good deal of attention in the neighborhood, adopted a convincing French accent and the name "Laurice" until being sent home by her teacher; and there were her frequent expulsions from the public library for sobbing loudly and dramatically while reading her favorite authors—Dickens, Twain, and Sir Walter Scott. Then there were Loretta's famous "vestibule shows," staged in any handy public doorway or portico, complete with songs, dances, recitations, and costume changes behind a convenient stairwell. But it was the Spanish count story that got Taylor her start in show business.

Loretta's teacher tactfully suggested that singing and dancing lessons might help channel the girl's natural high spirits. Elizabeth, after the usual arguments from her husband, enrolled her daughter in classes with one Miss Ida Whittington , who lived conveniently just across the street. Whittington, a former vaudeville trouper, suggested Loretta change her first name to the more sophisticated Laurette, and printed up handbills announcing to a list of theatrical managers culled from the trades that "La Belle Laurette Will Give Imitations, Recitations, and Sing Songs." Just after Laurette's 13th birthday, she and Elizabeth were thrilled to be offered her first paying job on the stage, even if the appearance turned out to be in the industrial town of Lynn, Massachusetts. Taylor was booked for a week's engagement with a nickelodeon show, a low-brow form of variety show for which the admission was a nickel and the talent even cheaper. The audience was not impressed with Taylor's charms. Neither was the show's manager, who advised Laurette to stay off the stage. Nonetheless, the same New York agent found her another booking, this time in a storehouse on the docks of the little fishing village of Gloucester, Massachusetts. "It was a question of who smelled to high heaven the most," Taylor would later recall, "the audience or my act." Elizabeth, her artful fantasies of show business much abused, swore it was the end of a short-lived career. But Laurette wasn't so sure. When Taylor was expelled from high school for being, as the principal put it, "an intractable pupil," James promptly enrolled her in a secretarial school even as Miss Whittington continued to act as her unofficial show-business promoter. It was through Whittington that Laurette, now 15, made the casual acquaintance of Charles Alonzo Taylor, who was 34 at the time of their first meeting in 1899.

Charlie, who had spent most of his youth in the West as a railroad worker and newspaper reporter, was on the way to earning his title of the "Master of Melodrama" for a successful string of potboilers he had written, produced, and directed for the stage. No less than four of them were running, either in New York or on tour, when he paid a visit to his old friend Ida Whittington and stopped to ask directions from a gawky young girl with wide, dreamy eyes sitting on a stoop. A year later, the two met a second time when Charlie Taylor attended a vaudeville revue in Boston in which Laurette was appearing. This time he offered her the heroine's role in his new show, King of the Opium Road, and promised Elizabeth that her daughter would be chaperoned by an older woman who was also in the cast. But Elizabeth, suspicious of Charlie Taylor's motives, wrangled her own contract from him as a costume designer. James having by now abandoned her in a cloud of moral indignation, Elizabeth left her two younger children with a sister and took to the road with her daughter.

Artists, to give their best to their creations, should be born without a sense of self-preservation.

—Laurette Taylor

As Laurette quickly discovered, Charlie Taylor's shows required physical stamina rather than polished acting skills, for his productions were more circus and spectacle than melodrama. In King of the Opium Road, which purported to be an inside look at the opium dens of San Francisco's Chinatown, Laurette was chased across the stage by evil henchmen and rescued by three acrobats standing on each other's shoulders, who retrieved her from the villain's second-story lair and carried her across the stage to another upper window where her rescuer awaited. Still, one local newspaper reporter along the tour's route noted that Laurette was "a beautiful and clever little soubrette whose work is praised by the most competent critics." It was obvious to Elizabeth that Charlie was attracted by more than Laurette's professional attributes, especially when he announced he'd written a new play especially for Laurette, Child Wife, about a young bride who is abducted by a lustful villain. Elizabeth raised the stakes this time, announcing she would return to New York and her two children only if Charlie married Laurette—an event which occurred early in 1901, just before Child Wife took to the road. Charlie was 36; Laurette, 16.

The show-business marriage was doomed almost from the start, for Laurette's childhood storytelling had now matured into a desire to be a great actress, while Charlie's purple prose and stage pyrotechnics had more to do with box-office receipts than artistic sensibilities. Ominously, Child Wife was his first flop, criticized in print for having "no shooting, no fireworks, and no red fire." The show died a merciful death on tour, Charlie announced he was broke, and Laurette that she was pregnant. Elizabeth paid their train fare back to New York, where Laurette gave birth to a son, Dwight, on New Year's Day, 1902.

Charlie recovered his fortunes by writing a string of four successful plays, in which Laurette galloped across the stage on a horse, jumped from moving trains, struggled through desert sandstorms, and engaged in shooting matches with a variety of villains, from whose clutches she was invariably rescued by a handsome lover. She quickly grew bored. Charlie became furious with her for changing his impossibly artificial dialogue, making the audience laugh with bits of impromptu stage business, and generally refusing to take her status as leading lady of the company seriously. "I had long observed," Taylor later recalled, "that leading women with an overwhelming sense of their dignity and importance lacked the human quality in their acting."

Laurette Taylor would one day become famous for this "human quality." It was born of sheer necessity, she said, for Charlie's repertory tours required his actors to learn a new play every week while the current production was on the boards. Laurette quickly discovered that it was better to concentrate on scene, character, and relationships during rehearsals, rather than mechanically learning lines, a task she would often save until the night before the play opened. When the curtain rose, Laurette was ready with a character which developed from beginning to end, one which interacted with the others on stage and actually seemed to be listening to them, as if hearing their words for the first time. It was an acting style which is now taken for granted, but which was at the time startlingly different from the florid, bombastic mannerisms that then ruled the stage. "She is delightfully natural and artless," one critic wrote of Taylor during her years with her husband's company, "and

apparently unconscious of her many attractions and the effect she is producing."

But Laurette was acutely conscious of the strains and tensions of a marriage as melodramatic as Charlie's stage creations, even after the birth of a daughter, Marguerite Taylor , in 1904. When Charlie lost a second fortune with a badly received show called Scotty, King of the Desert Mines (in which, this time, Laurette had to weather an on-stage train wreck, be carried away in a dog sled, and share the bill with a donkey named Slim), and then tried unsuccessfully to run a permanent theater in an old San Francisco church, Laurette and her two children moved back to New York in 1907, living with Elizabeth in a small apartment on the edge of the theater district.

Taylor arrived at a time when Broadway was turning away from the frivolity of the Gilded Age and discovering that audiences would pay to see more serious material. Still, it wasn't until a year after leaving Charlie that Laurette found work in a Chicago production of Ferenc Molnar's The Devil, which had been enjoying a successful run on Broadway. The Broadway company arrived in Chicago at the same time Taylor's company was opening its version of the play, and critics naturally compared the two leading ladies. One of them suggested that the Broadway company's ingenue see Laurette's performance "and learn the value of simplicity, the heartbreak of the valiant." Her work in Chicago received enough attention for the Shubert brothers to ask Laurette to audition for the lead in a new play they were mounting, written by a popular British playwright named J. Hartley Manners. The audition was Taylor's first meeting with the man who would transform her career and her life.

Manners—witty, cool-headed, and elegantly sophisticated—had been an actor on the London stage before embarking on a successful writing career in 1900. His earlier background is not well known, although Laurette must have appreciated a rumor current at the time that he was the illegitimate son of English nobility and had been raised in a Cockney household. Taylor was struck most of all by Manners' tranquility and gentlemanly grace, so unlike Charlie Taylor's fiery impetuosity. Manners said little during the audition, but must have been impressed enough to urge the Shuberts to give her the leading role in his new play, The Great John Ganton, which opened in tryouts in Chicago in 1909. The critics were mesmerized by her stage manner. "It has been suggested that perhaps this actress has not yet acquired a method," wrote one of them, "but when you note the excellence of her pauses … or when you listen with her while she listens with an eloquence more illuminating than a dozen sentences would be—then you are constrained to believe that hers is either an extraordinarily subtle method or an intuitive gift for expression that amounts to genius." Taylor arrived in triumph on Broadway with the show, the first of six plays in which she appeared during the next two years. Her "discovery" seemed to fade when two of those six closed out of town, although her work in a small role in the otherwise long-forgotten Alias Jimmy Valentine was praised by alert reviewers. During this period, Charlie arrived in New York demanding a reconciliation, a futile request considering he had abandoned his acting company a year earlier by running away to Canada with his leading lady. Laurette's response was to file for a divorce. From then on, she refused to talk about Charlie, only referring to him vaguely as "the manager" or "the producer" of her early career. She would, in fact, always claim he had died in 1910, the year of their divorce, although Charlie lived into his 70s and passed away in 1942.

Shortly after her divorce, Taylor appeared in another play written by J. Hartley Manners, The Girl in Waiting, rewritten especially for her from an earlier version. The comedy closed out of town, even Laurette admitting that she had not been ready for the sophisticated airs of the play's upper-class setting. "The play was obviously written by someone with a knowledge of inherited silverware," she once remarked, noting the social gulf between the cultured man from England and the Irish girl from Mount Morris Park. But the disparity proved no obstacle to the romance that was now growing between them, helped by a wealthy supporter of Manners who often invited them for weekend socials at her country home in Connecticut.

It was during these early days of their courtship that Manners gave Taylor the first draft of a new play about a Cockney maid who discovers she is the heir to the fortune of a wealthy, hitherto unknown uncle, and who transforms the icy reserve of her newly discovered aristocratic relatives with her warm-hearted good sense. Laurette disliked the play at first, bluntly telling Manners that his heroine rang untrue. During the summer of 1911, strolling through the Connecticut woods or rocking peacefully on a porch, Taylor told Manners about her own upbringing in a rowdy Irish-American household, and particularly about her grandmother Bridget. The quiet Manners listened closely, took notes, and rewrote the play to make the heroine an Irish colleen modeled on Bridget Cooney. The manuscript became Manners' marriage proposal to Taylor, for he presented it to her with a sapphire ring folded inside and the promise that they would marry as soon as Peg o' My Heart, as the play was now called, appeared on a stage. This proved to be more difficult than expected, all the leading producers of the day considering its relentlessly cheery heroine much too saccharine for sophisticated theatergoers.

Laurette, meanwhile, had been discovered yet again, for her work in 1911's Seven Sisters. "Oh, what a jolly mixup!" enthused Chicago critic Ashton Stevens. "When she was a star, she wasn't; and now that she isn't, she is!" Taylor's next choice of role was born of the sheer necessity to work and earn a living, for she appeared in a Charlie Taylor-style melodrama called The Bird of Paradise, playing a Hawaiian princess who falls in love with a white man only to kill herself in the last act by throwing herself into a volcano. Her performance was noted mostly because of her grass skirt and bare feet, as well as her hula dance, all of which were considered quite scandalous at the time. During the show's run, Taylor asked the producer, Oliver Morosco, to read Peg o' My Heart, telling him of her engagement and its ruling condition. More out of kindness than anything else, Morosco bought the play from Manners for $500, later claiming it made him $5 million. Laurette Taylor and J. Hartley Manners were promptly married in the autumn of 1912.

Peg o' My Heart opened on Broadway in December as the inaugural presentation at the new Cort Theater on 48th Street. It remained there for the next 18 months, playing to packed houses and closing in the spring of 1914 only because Laurette was exhausted after starring in what became the longest-running dramatic play up to that time, with a total of 604 performances. "In ten minutes," wrote New York Globe critic Louis Sherwin on opening night, "she gave us more acting than we have been accustomed to seeing in ten months." The great Sarah Bernhardt , who was given a private midmorning performance, predicted that Taylor would be the foremost American actress within five years. To Laurette's horror, she was especially praised for saving what was deemed a mediocre play. "Its color was not champagne, but sarsaparilla," as one wag put it. But Manners was delighted at her success and carefully guarded it. He personally oversaw the casting for the four road companies that were sent out in 1913, making sure that Laurette's name appeared on the top of all show bills in a special "role created by" category; and successfully sued the songwriters of the popular tune which shared the play's name, forcing them to remove Taylor's picture from the sheet music and preventing them from making claims that the song had anything to do with the production. By the time the show closed its New York run and opened a year's run in London in 1914, Manners was said to be making $10,000 a week in royalties. When the German zeppelin raids on London forced the show to close after more than 1,000 performances, Taylor wearily noted, "We've made a lot of money, but even money gets very monotonous." Returning to New York, the couple bought a sumptuous home on fashionable Riverside Drive—the setting for their popular Sunday night theatrical suppers—and a country house in Easthampton which became a favorite retreat for Laurette.

Peg o' My Heart marked the beginning of a series of such collaborations and the most successful period in Taylor's career. Nearly always, her work was commended more than her husband's. ("Alas, poor Hartley!," Ethel Barrymore once lamented. "Only the audience liked his plays.") The 1917 production of The Harp of Life ran for only three months, although Burns Mantle told his New York Times readers that "[Miss Taylor] is the mistress of a thousand tricks, but so perfect is her sense of the theater and so absolute her command of her art that trickery is the last charge her devoted audience will make against her." World War I had been raging in Europe for three years when the play opened, and Manners spent most of its brief run polishing and rehearsing Laurette in the fervently patriotic Out There, which opened two days before the United States declared war on Germany. For once, the critics reviewed the play as favorably as they did Taylor's performance as a Cockney maid who becomes a Red Cross nurse and goes off to war to serve her country. Her line "If I go, will you go?" was adopted by the government for use on its recruitment posters. The couples' first unmitigated failure was The Wooing of Eve, which Burns Mantle deemed "90% silly and uninteresting and only 10% Miss Taylor, which is its only charm." This was quickly followed by Happiness, with the typical Manners waif (in this case, a Brooklyn errand girl) who teaches her world-weary betters to look on the bright side. Although audiences continued to applaud her work enthusiastically in such roles, the critics were growing restless. "She has resources in feminine allure, poetic passion and in exalted tragedy," one of them complained, "which have remained dormant." But Taylor was fully aware of her debt to her husband. "When I met Hartley," she once wrote, "I had experience without discipline, confusion without understanding, nerves without balance. When Hartley was alive, I was kept like a very fine racehorse." Laurette stolidly overlooked Manners' growing fondness for alcohol, noting that it only made him more charming and debonair, and cherished their hours together, sharing a cocktail and discussing their next project. This turned out to be, in 1919, One Night in Rome, a confused tale of an Italian noblewoman who falls on hard times and turns to fortune-telling for a living. As usual, it was thumbs up for Laurette, thumbs down for the play, although it enjoyed a respectable Broadway run and moved to London for eight months in 1920.

Her one foray outside of a Manners-written part was a brief series of matinees in which she presented condensed versions of Shakespeare, notably Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Merchant of Venice. Manners advised against it, but at her insistence produced and directed the series himself. While admiring for her courage, critics gently suggested she and the Bard were not the best of friends. "Shakespeare is dead," Taylor said when the series closed. "Long live Manners." Nor did she often venture away from the legitimate theater. Her three films were merely adaptations of her stage successes.

In 1921, Taylor recreated her best-loved role in a revival of Peg o' My Heart on a national tour, during which she and Manners were exposed to the excesses of the postwar Jazz Age. The genteel Manners was particularly disgusted with the drug and alcohol use and the free-wheeling morals that characterized the period. His answer was 1922's The National Anthem, which opened on New Year's Eve of that year. Laurette considered the play his finest, and her work as the young society girl destroyed by her descent into debauchery the best of her career. But Manners, formerly criticized for writing sticky-sweet Cinderella tales, was now taken to task for writing a hard-hitting tragedy. "It is an acrid sermon in four acts, aimed like a crudely pointed forefinger," complained Alexander Woolcott, who referred to its author as "the Reverend J. Hartley Manners." This time, audiences agreed and stayed away, closing the play in three months. It was an emotionally exhausting experience for Taylor, who often had to be led to her dressing room after the play's long closing scene in which her character, alone on the stage and realizing she is dying from an overdose, tries to telephone for help. "During the run of 'Anthem,' I lost my gaiety," she remembered. Stung by the criticism, she and Manners retired to Easthampton where the cocktail hour, it was rumored, grew longer and longer.

For the first time in nearly ten years, Taylor appeared in a play that had not been written by her husband. She served as her own playwright this time, adapting Fannie Hurst 's Humoresque and taking the lead role of Sarah Kantor. Once again Laurette was buffeted by unexpected criticism, this time from Jews who objected to an Irish actress playing a Jewish matron. Hurst herself came to Taylor's defense, as did a handful of critics who considered her performance entirely believable and delicately crafted, but the play closed after only three weeks. Over the next five years, Taylor took on a variety of other roles, none of them written by Manners and none of them as well received. Manners, in fact, seemed unable to produce a new work. Deprived of the source of her greatest successes, Laurette turned increasingly to alcohol.

Friends were commenting on her increasingly erratic behavior by the mid-1920s, while Manners desperately tried to think of a concept for a new play that would rescue her from her addiction. Over his protests, Taylor starred in an American version of a play she had seen in Paris, Her Cardboard Lover, which opened on Broadway in 1926. Manners considered it a cheap, vulgar bedroom farce, and most critics agreed with him. "Peg o' My Heart would die of shame," one of them wrote, while a friend sent her a backstage note saying, "I don't like to see you in dirty plays, Peg!" Taylor exploded within earshot of the entire cast. "It's that Peg again!" she was heard to scream. "Will I never bury that girl?" Manners hurriedly patched together The Comedienne, based on a sketch he'd written years before, but it quickly closed in Chicago during tryouts. Another attempt, Delicate Justice, fared no better. Stories spread of Taylor's angry tongue-lashings of fellow cast members during rehearsals, while critics labeled Manners' story of a faith-healer "inane and sprawling," or "talky, odious and inept." It was the last play of her husband's in which Taylor would appear. After closing in Zoe Akins ' The Furies in 1928, Laurette entered a sanitarium for treatment of her disease.

Manners presented her with a new comedy on her release, but both of them knew Taylor was in no condition to appear on a stage. Not long afterward, the persistent "smoker's cough" that had plagued Manners for years was diagnosed as throat cancer, the disease that claimed his life in late 1928. "I'll be a fool without Hartley," Taylor told friends, "just a goddam fool!"

For the next four years, she disappeared from public view and into an alcoholic haze supported by the royalties from Manners' greatest gift to her, Peg o' My Heart. Her spending became so precipitous that her children took court action to attach the assets of the trust fund Manners had left their mother, which Taylor naturally saw as an attempt to steal all she had left of him. While relations with her children deteriorated, the friction seemed to revive her. Taylor gathered the strength to appear in public, causing a stir by testifying before a Congressional committee in 1932 against a bill proposing an excise tax on theater tickets. That same year, she accepted her first role since Manners' death, in a revival of J.M. Barrie's Alice Sit by the Fire. Critics and audiences alike were delighted with her return to the stage, The New York Times' Brooks Atkinson enthusing: "To have Miss Taylor back is a wondrous thing." But after the elation of being back on Broadway wore off, Taylor's drinking returned, and she began missing performances to such an extent that the show was closed early. The opening of a new play for which she was scheduled was first delayed, then canceled altogether, when it became public knowledge that her addiction had returned.

She disappeared from public life for another five years, emerging in 1937 to star in a summer-stock production of a play she had written herself, At Marian's, an autobiographical work about a recovering alcoholic. By now, alcoholism had begun to exact its debilitating physical cost. She grew increasingly ill and weak during the show's run, losing 45 pounds and developing severe anemia that required hospitalization. But there was yet another comeback in store for her, one that is still remembered with excitement by Broadway historians.

Ironically, it was an old show-business friend of Charlie Taylor's who suggested that Taylor appear in a planned 1939 revival of Sutton Vane's poignant Outward Bound, to be directed by Otto Preminger. Laurette appeared as the dowdy Mrs. Midget, one of a group of shipboard passengers who discover they have all died and are on their final passage to Eternity. The applause was so thunderous at Taylor's first entrance that the action had to be halted until it died down; and at the play's end, she was called back for 22 curtain calls. "Her playing is both modest and quiet," wrote Richard Watts in the Times. "It merely happens that she is one of the finest actresses in the world." Backstage, Taylor fell into the waiting arms of American Theater Wing president Antoinette Perry , sobbing "Oh, Tony, it's back! The theater's back!"

The theater world waited expectantly for Taylor to select her next role from the many now offered to her, but she took her time. "Nothing but pipe-smoking, tobacco-chewing, horrible old women," she complained. After five years, she finally found the role which has preserved her reputation ever since—as the genteel Mrs. Amanda Wingfield in Tennessee Williams' memory play, The Glass Menagerie. The play opened at The Playhouse on 48th Street on March 30, 1945—one day before Laurette's 61st birthday. Broadway was entranced by her delicate portrayal of a faded Southern belle who attempts to relive her girlhood by introducing her daughter to a "gentleman caller," destroying the daughter's romantic dreams when it is discovered the young man is married. As it had 25 years before, Taylor's completely natural stage presence electrified her audience. "There is a sense … of [Mrs. Wingfield] having been born out of a tradition, not out of a box," wrote The New Republic.

During the play's run, however, Taylor's physical condition seemed to weaken to the point where the curtain often had to be held some nights while she decided if she were strong enough to go on. Later in the show's run, Laurette would appear for the play's first act, then ask that her understudy finish the show. There were rumors, too, that Taylor had begun to drink again. By the time the show closed late in 1945, the understudy had been appearing nearly every night. Nonetheless, Taylor was awarded the coveted Critics Circle Award for Best Actress in 1946.

In June of that year, an operation to remove a benign growth on her vocal cords left her even weaker and confined to her bed. She received few visitors, save for her children, to whom she was by now reconciled. On the morning of December 7, 1946, Laurette Taylor died peacefully at home.

At the opening of The Glass Menagerie, one perceptive reviewer noted that watching Taylor's performance justified theater's existence long into the future. Indeed, her name is still reverently spoken by those who were fortunate enough to have seen her work and by those actors who learned from her. During rehearsals for The Glass Menagerie, one of the cast members complained of what seemed to be Taylor's disinterest. But it was only her usual, patient method of building a character at the expense of accurate line readings. Laurette was unruffled by the accusation. "How can you give it before it has grown inside?" she asked. In those few years after her long exile, Laurette Taylor had found herself again, and given generously.


Atkinson, Brooks. Broadway. NY: Macmillan, 1970.

Courtney, Marguerite. Laurette. NY: Atheneum, 1968.

Norman Powers , writer-producer, Chelsea Lane Productions, New York, New York