Susan Tyrrell was still a preteen when she made her Broadway debut in Time Out for Ginger. Tyrrell honed her craft in summer stock and repertory, generally cast as traditional ingenues. It was while at New York's Lincoln Rep that the actress truly blossomed, playing an astonishing variety of trollops, dysfunctionals and drunks. She earned an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of burned-out alcoholic Oma in Fat City (1972). Seldom bothering with subtlety, Tyrrell has essayed tough-shelled characterizations in films as far-ranging as Andy Warhol's Bad (1977) and Big-Top Pee-wee (1988). By the 1990s, her character range extended from small-town bartenders to big-city mayors. On TV, Tyrrell has played Gretchen Feester in Open All Night (1981) and an abrasive recurring character in MacGruder and Loud (1985). With all her movie and TV activity, Susan Tyrrell has never completely abandoned the stage, periodically trodding the boards in her self-written stage piece My Rotten Life.
by Hal Erickson biography