Remembering Colleen Dewhurst
Colleen Dewhurst was a tigress of the American stage. She was great at the big stuff: passion, tragedy, fury, the howling temperament of the heart. The work of Eugene O’Neill was her specialty — she won a Tony in 1974 for her role as Josie Hogan, the lonely farm girl in A Moon for the Misbegotten. Over the years she also played in Desire Under the Elms, Mourning Becomes Electra, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and Ah, Wilderness!
Yet it is as Avery Brown, mother extraordinaire to Candice Bergen on TV’s Murphy Brown for the past two years, that Dewhurst is cherished by more people than ever saw her on the stage. (She won her second Emmy for the role, three days after her death at age 67.) She’s remembered as Diane Keaton’s mother in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (1977); for Between Two Women, for which she won an Emmy in 1986; and for this summer’s Dying Young, starring Campbell Scott, one of her two sons with George C. Scott.
Still, despite her solid work on TV and film, Dewhurst was most at home on the stage. ”I think that theater is a purification,” she once said. ”It’s telling the audience, almost subliminally, where you and they are at this time.”