Beatrice Straight

Active - 1952 - 1991  |   Born - Aug 2, 1914   |   Died - Apr 7, 2001   |   Genres - Drama, Mystery

Share on

Biography by Hal Erickson

"Beatrice who?" This was the standard reaction of younger filmgoers when Beatrice Straight won the 1976 "Best Supporting Actress" Academy Award for her performance as Louise Schumacher, the wife of philandering TV producer William Holden, in Network. Older fans with longer memories knew full well who Beatrice Straight was--and also knew that she'd won her Oscar not merely for her brief Network stint, but for the work of a lifetime. Extensively trained in the Classics by such instructors as Tamara Daykarhanova and Michael Chekhov, Straight made her first Broadway appearance in 1935. She went on to appear in such New York stage productions as The Heiress, Ghosts, and A Streetcar Named Desire, winning the coveted Tony Award for her portrayal of Elizabeth Proctor in 1953's The Crucible. In films from 1951, she was often constrained by minor roles far beneath her talents; exceptions to this rule included her portrayal of Michael Rennie's widow in Phone Call from a Stranger (1952) and the wife of up-and-coming executive Van Heflin in Patterns (1956). Even after winning her Oscar, she found herself in so-so parts that any character actress could have played--though again, there were exceptions, notably her performance as the overconfident paranormal investigator in Poltergeist (1982). Like many another stage stalwart, Straight supplemented her Broadway income in such Manhattan-based TV soap operas as Love of Life. Her prime-time TV roles included Mrs. Hacker in Beacon Hill (1975), the Queen Mother in Wonder Woman (1976), Louisa Beauchamp in King's Crossing (1982), and Rose Kennedy in the 1985 miniseries Robert Kennedy and His Times. Beatrice Straight was at one time the wife of film and Broadway actor Peter Cookson.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography