Vandaag is het 25 jaar geleden dat de Amerikaanse actrice Sandy Dennis is gestorven (niet te verwarren met de Engelse folkzangeres Sandy Denny die eveneens al een tijdje is overleden, 1947-1978).

Dennis was born and raised in Hastings, Nebraska, where she attended both universities in the city. After appearing in the local Lincoln Community Theater Group, she moved to New York City at the age of 19 and made her television debut in 1956 in The Guiding Light. Her film debut was the role of Kay in Splendor in the Grass (1961). However, she was more committed to following a career in the theater. She won consecutive Tony Awards for her performances in A Thousand Clowns (1963) and Any Wednesday (1964). She won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Honey, the fragile, neurotic young wife of George Segal, in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). She followed this with well-received performances in Up the Down Staircase (1967) and the homophobic The Fox (1967). This performance was taken down as “interesting” by Alison Darren’s “Lesbian Film Guide” as “Sandy Dennis was lesbian in real life, although she lived with jazz musician Gerry Mulligan (photo) for several years.” (p.78) Wikipedia adds: “Dennis lived with prominent jazz musician Gerry Mulligan from 1965 until they split up in 1974. Although Mulligan often referred to Dennis as his second wife, Dennis later revealed that they never had married. She also lived with actor Eric Roberts from 1980 to 1985.”
A life member of The Actors Studio and an advocate of method acting, Dennis was often described as neurotic and mannered in her performances; her signature style, according to Wikipedia, included running words together and oddly stopping and starting sentences, suddenly going up and down octaves as she spoke, and fluttering her hands.
Her last significant film roles were in Alan Alda’s The Four Seasons (1981) and Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982). In 1991, she played a leading role in the film The Indian Runner, which marked Sean Penn’s debut as a film director.
Sandy Dennis died from ovarian cancer in Westport, Connecticut, at age 54.

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