Diana Hyland

Active - 1963 - 1977  |   Born - Jan 25, 1936 in Cleveland Heights, OH  |   Died - Mar 27, 1977 in Los Angeles, CA  |   Genres - Drama, Mystery, Action, Crime, Western

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American actress Diana Hyland took private acting lessons as a high school student, debuting professionally at age 17 at the Rabbit Run Theatre of Madison, Ohio. Once in New York, she worked part time as the switchboard operator of her apartment building, hitting pay dirt actingwise with an important role on TV's Robert Montgomery Presents. More TV work followed, as did summer stock appearances with the likes of Claudette Colbert and a tour with the stage play Look Back in Anger; Diana capped the '50s with a Broadway appearance in Sweet Bird of Youth, costarring Paul Newman and Geraldine Page. Like most New York-based actresses of the era, Diana did a soap opera stint (Young Dr. Malone), but after her character was abruptly killed off she headed for the ostensibly greener pastures of Hollywood. Her first job there, supporting Robert Redford in an Alcoa Premiere drama, earned Diana an Emmy nomination, leading to prolific guest-star work on such series as Dr. Kildare, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Twilight Zone. Undeniably talented, Diana was best known in studio circles for her impatience and outspokenness, and in fact was reprimanded in print for this trait by columnist Hedda Hopper. Her film career was far less interesting than her TV work: The Chase (1966) is the only Diana Hyland performance seen on a regular basis on television these days, and it's hardly worthy of her or anyone else in the cast (which included Marlon Brando, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda). Except for a recurring role on Peyton Place in the mid '60s, Diana avoid regular primetime series work until 1976, when she signed to play Dick Van Patten's wife on Eight is Enough. That same year, she costarred in the TV movie Boy in the Plastic Bubble with John Travolta. Diana fell in love with Travolta, 17 years her junior, and the two moved in together. Thus 1977 should have been a professional and personal high water mark for Diana Hyland. But on March 27 of that year, Diana died of cancer, which devastated not only Travolta but the entire Eight is Enough cast. The five completed episodes starring Diana Hyland began telecasting on March 15, a scant twelve days before her death.

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