Grant in 1967
Lyova Haskell Rosenthal
October 31, during the mid-1920s.[a] (age 92–94)
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Actress and director|
|Years active||1949–2007, 2013|
(m. 1951; div. 1960)
Joseph Feury (m. 1962)
Grant made her film debut in 1951 as a young shoplifter in William Wyler's Detective Story, co-starring Kirk Douglas and Eleanor Parker. This role earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress as well as the Best Actress Award at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival.
In 1952 she was blacklisted from most acting jobs for the next 12 years. She was able to find only occasional work onstage or as a teacher during this period. It also contributed to her divorce. She was removed from the blacklist in 1962 and rebuilt her acting career in films. She starred in 71 TV episodes of Peyton Place (1965–1966), followed by lead roles in films such as Valley of the Dolls, In the Heat of the Night (both 1967), and Shampoo (1975), for the last of which she won an Oscar. In 1964, she won the Obie Award for Distinguished Performance by an Actress for her performance in The Maids. During her career she was nominated for the Emmy Award seven times between 1966 and 1993, winning twice. Her film Down and Out in America also tied for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1986.
Lee Grant was born Lyova Haskell Rosenthal in Manhattan, the only child of Witia (née Haskell), an actress and teacher, and Abraham W. Rosenthal, a realtor and educator. Her father was born in New York City, to Polish Jewish immigrants, and her mother was a Russian Jewish immigrant. The family resided at 706 Riverside Drive in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. Her date of birth is October 31, but the year is disputed, with all years ranging from 1925 to 1931 having been given as her year of birth at some point; however, census data, travel manifests, and testimony suggest that she was born in 1925 or 1926, while Grant's stated ages at the time of her professional debut and Oscar nomination indicate she was born in 1927.[a]
She debuted in L'Oracolo at the Metropolitan Opera in 1931 and later joined the American Ballet as an adolescent. She attended Art Students League of New York, Juilliard School of Music, The High School of Music & Art, and George Washington High School, all in New York City. Grant graduated from high school, and won a scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, where she studied under Sanford Meisner. Grant undertook further study with Uta Hagen at the HB Studio. She later enrolled in the Actors Studio in New York.
Grant had her first stage ballet performance in 1933 at the Metropolitan Opera House. In 1938, in her early teens, she was made a member of the American Ballet under George Balanchine. As an actress, Grant had her professional stage debut as understudy in Oklahoma in 1944. In 1948, she had her Broadway acting debut in Joy to the World. Grant established herself as a dramatic method actress on and off Broadway, earning praise for her role as a shoplifter in Detective Story in 1949.
She made her film debut two years later in the film version (Detective Story), starring Kirk Douglas, receiving her first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination, and winning the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival. She said she enjoyed working under director William Wyler, who helped guide her.
In 1951, she gave an impassioned eulogy at the memorial service for actor J. Edward Bromberg, whose early death, she implied, was caused by the stress of being called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Her name later appeared in the publication Red Channels, and as a result, for the next ten years, her "prime years" as she put it, she was blacklisted and her work in television and movies was limited.
Kirk Douglas, who acted with her in Detective Story, recalled that director Edward Dmytryk, a blacklistee, had first named her husband at the HUAC:
Lee was only a kid, a beautiful young girl with extraordinary talent and a big future. You could see it. She was so good that she earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her very first film role. But because Eddie Dmytryk named her husband, Lee Grant was blacklisted before her film career even had a chance to begin. Of course, she refused to testify about the man to whom she was married, and it took years before anyone would hire her for another picture.
Grant appeared in a limited number of stage and television shows during these years. In 1953, she played Rose Peabody in the soap opera Search for Tomorrow. In the Broadway production of Two for the Seesaw in 1959, she succeeded Anne Bancroft in the lead female role.
By the time her name was removed from the blacklist in the early 1960s, she had divorced, remarried, and had a young daughter, Dinah. She began re-establishing her television and movie career. In her autobiography, she writes:
Dinah was my grail, my constant; nothing and no one could get between us. Dinah and my need to support her financially, morally, viscerally, and my rage at those who had taken twelve working, acting years from my life, were what motivated me.:250
Her experience with the blacklist scarred her to such an extent that as late as 2002, she would freeze and go into a "near trance" when anyone asked her about her experiences during the McCarthy period.
Grant's first major achievement, after HUAC officially cleared her, was in the 1960s television series Peyton Place as Stella Chernak, for which she won an Emmy in 1966. In 1967, Grant appeared in an episode of Mission Impossible, portraying the wife of a U.S. diplomat who goes undercover to discredit a rogue diplomat. The same year, she played the distraught widow of a murder victim in the Oscar-winning In the Heat of the Night. In 1963, she won acclaim for her stage performance in the off-Broadway production of Jean Genet's The Maids.
Grant received Academy Award nominations for the dramas The Landlord (1970) and Voyage of the Damned (1976). She also performed in Plaza Suite (1971), a comedy directed by Arthur Hiller and written by Neil Simon; she played the harassed mother of a bride, with Walter Matthau as the father. The film was followed by another comedy role as the mother in Portnoy's Complaint (1972).
In March 1971, Grant played the murderer in the Columbo episode "Ransom for a Dead Man"', playing opposite Peter Falk as Detective Columbo. For that role, she was nominated for an Emmy as Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie. That same year, she also received an Emmy nomination for her performance in the television film The Neon Ceiling. The only other nominee for that category that year was Colleen Dewhurst; when Grant won, she wryly noted "I must thank Colleen Dewhurst since it takes two of me to equal one of her."
Grant reunited with Peter Falk on Broadway in The Prisoner of Second Avenue, written by Neil Simon; the playwright said that his "first and only choice" for the part was Grant, who he said was equally at home with dramatists such as Chekhov or Sidney Kingsley, yet could also be "hilariously funny" when the script called for it, for she was able to portray essential honesty in her acting.
Grant played Warren Beatty's older lover in Shampoo (1975), a role for which she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The film received mixed reviews, but was Columbia's biggest hit in the studio's 50-year history. Shampoo was the second film in which Grant acted under director Hal Ashby. Critic Pauline Kael, comparing her in both films, noted Grant "is such a cool-style comedienne that she's in danger of having people say that she's good, as usual." During the filming, however, she did have some serious disagreements with Beatty, who was also the producer, and nearly quit. During one scene, she wanted to play it in a way she felt was more realistic from a woman's perspective, but Beatty disagreed. After thinking about the scene for a few days, she told director Ashby that she could not do it Beatty's way and was quitting. As she was walking out, Beatty stopped her, and asked what was wrong. "I sat down and told him", she said. "He threw up his hands and said, 'Play it your way. What do I know? I'm a man.'"
Despite the success of the film, Grant was feeling less secure in Hollywood, as she was then around 50 years old. She writes:
I was becoming my own worst enemy as an actor, traumatized onstage and fixated on staying young so I could keep working in film. A woman of a certain age does not play in movies or TV; we're kicked to the side or out. And I was a woman of a certain age, terrified I'd be found out and unemployed again.:213
During the 1975-76 television season, she starred in the sitcom Fay, which, to her chagrin, was canceled after eight episodes. She made a guest appearance in Empty Nest, in which her daughter Dinah Manoff co-starred. In 1978, she was the lead actress in Damien: Omen II.
In 1980, Grant directed her first film, Tell Me a Riddle, a story about an aging Jewish couple. That debut narrative film was followed by a widely distributed documentary film titled The Willmar 8, which profiled eight female employees of a bank in Willmar, Minnesota who went on strike to protest pay inequities between male and female bank tellers. She starred in an HBO remake of Plaza Suite in 1982, co-starring with Jerry Orbach, both playing three different characters in three acts. It was filmed before a live audience.
Actor Bruce Dern, who acted with her in The Big Town (1987), recalls working with her: "Lee Grant is a fabulous actress. Anytime she works it's a blessing you have her in your movie." She directed several documentary films, including Down and Out in America (1986) which won the Academy Award for Documentary Feature. The same year, she directed Nobody's Child, a television movie starring Marlo Thomas about a woman confined to a mental institution for 20 years. For her direction, Grant became the first female director to win the Directors Guild of America Award.
In 1988, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who through their endurance and the excellence of their work have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.
Admiring her directing and acting skill, actress Sissy Spacek agreed to act in Hard Promises (1991) "only to work with Grant", although Grant was later replaced as its director. In 1992, Grant played Dora Cohn, the mother of Roy Cohn in the biographical made-for-TV film Citizen Cohn, which garnered her another Primetime Emmy Award nomination. In 1994, she directed the television film Seasons of the Heart, starring Carol Burnett and George Segal.
In 2001, Lee Grant portrayed Louise Bonner in David Lynch's critically acclaimed Mullholland Drive. From 2004 to 2007, Carlin Glynn, Stephen Lang, and Grant served as co-artistic directors for the Actors Studio. In the early 2000s, Grant directed a series of Intimate Portrait episodes for Lifetime Television, that celebrated a diverse range of accomplished women.
In 2013, Grant briefly returned to the stage, after a nearly forty-year absence, to star in one performance of The Gin Game, part of a benefit for improvement programs at the Island Music Guild, in Bainbridge Island, Washington. Grant played Fonsia Dorsey opposite Frank Buxton as Weller Martin; her daughter Dinah Manoff directed the production.
|1973||The Shape of Things||TV special|
|1975||For the Use of the Hall||TV film|
|1976||The Stronger||Short film|
|1980||Tell Me a Riddle||Feature film|
|1981||The Willmar 8||Documentary film|
|1983||When Women Kill||Documentary film (also narrator)|
|1984||A Matter of Sex||TV film|
|1985||What Sex Am I?||Documentary film (also narrator)|
|ABC Afterschool Special||Episode: "Cindy Eller: A Modern Fairy Tale"|
|1986||Nobody's Child||TV film|
DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Specials
|Down and Out in America||Documentary film (also narrator)|
Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature
|1989||Battered||Documentary film (also narrator)|
|Staying Together||Feature film|
|No Place Like Home||TV film|
|1992||Women on Trial||Documentary film (also narrator)|
|1994||Seasons of the Heart||TV film|
|Following Her Heart||TV film|
|1997||Say It, Fight It, Cure It||TV film|
|1999||Confronting the Crisis: Childcare in America||TV film|
|2000||American Masters||Episode: "Sidney Poitier: One Bright Light"|
|The Loretta Claiborne Story||TV film|
|2001||The Gun Deadlock||TV film|
|2004||Biography||Episode: "Melanie Griffith"|
|2000–2004||Intimate Portrait||43 episodes|
|2005||... A Father... A Son... Once Upon a Time in Hollywood||TV film|
- Grant was born on October 31, but disagreement exists between sources over the year. While secondary and tertiary sources put Grant's year of birth between 1925 and 1931, she was almost certainly born in the mid-1920s. Public records indicate she was born in 1925 but a ship manifest and congressional testimony favor 1926. Recent interviews with Grant and her autobiography suggest 1925, 1926 or 1927, although Grant herself is inconsistent on the subject.
- Mid-1920s: The San Francisco Chronicle notes that Grant is "famously inexact" about her age, as a result of being blacklisted.
- 1925: Encyclopædia Britannica used to have Grant's date of birth listed as October 31, 1927, but it has since updated the year to 1925.
- 1925: WTOP-FM wrote that Grant was born in 1925 and would be 90 in October, 2015.
- 1926: In an interview in 2017, the Los Angeles Times noted that the actress "turns 91 this year" and that "Grant’s legendary caginess about her age has long drawn jokes".
- 1926–1930, 1931: Who’s Who in America lists 1931 as Grant's birth year, but Great Jews in the Performing Arts notes that "Other sources give every year from 1926 through 1930."
- 1927: While interviewing Grant, Gilbert Gottfried put her age at 24 at the time of her Oscar nomination and Cannes win. These events occurred in April/May 1952, which would date the year of her birth to 1927 using the October 31 date.
- 1928, 1929, 1931: Current Biography Yearbook gives the day and month as October 31, but notes different sources give 1928, 1929 and 1931 as the year of birth.
- 1925: New York City birth indexes indicate that a Lyova Rosenthal was born in the Bronx on October 31, 1925.
- 1925: United States Public Records (under the name Lee Grant Manoff) give Grant's date of birth as October 31, 1925.
- 1925: Census records indicate that Grant—under her birth name of Lyova Haskell Rosenthal—was aged 4 at the 1930 census, and 14 at the 1940 census.
- 1925/1926: In a video interview published by X17 Online on April 11, 2017, Grant said she was 90 years old and born in 1925. However, her age would date her year of birth to 1926.
- 1926: A July 1933 shipping manifest puts Grant's age at 7 years of age, and the year of birth 1926.
- 1926: Grant gave her date of birth as October 31, 1926, in testimony to the House Un-American Activities Committee.
- 1927: In her autobiography, I Said Yes to Everything (2014), Grant states she was twenty-four years old when she received her first Oscar nomination at the 24th Academy Awards, held in March 1952, and when she won at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival (held in April/May 1952). Grant reiterated this claim in an interview with Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies in 2014.
- Roberts, Jerry. Encyclopedia of Television Film Directors, Scarecrow Press, 1st edition (June 5, 2009), Amazon Digital Services, Inc; ASIN: B009W3C7E8
- Katz, Ephraim. The Film Encyclopedia, Harper Perennial (1998) p. 552; ISBN 0-06-273492-X
- Profile, forward.com; accessed September 9, 2014.
- Lee Grant profile, FilmReference.com; accessed September 9, 2014.
- Olin Downes. The Opera: Scotti Cheered as Chim-Fen in "L'Oracolo"-Tribute to Mme. Jeritza in "Cavalleria." November 24, 1931. The New York Times. "Hoo-Chee...Lyova Rosenthal"
- "Movie Memory Lee Grant 1976". New York Daily News. December 1, 2002. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Gray, Spalding. Life Interrupted: The Unfinished Monologue, Random House (2005) p. 154
- HB Studio Alumni
- Turner Classic Movies
- Lee Grant at the Internet Broadway Database
- Best Actress Award (Cannes Film Festival)
- Interview: Lee Grant, "Inside the Actors Studio" 1998
- "Conversation With Lee Grant", 2014, tcm.com; accessed May 5, 2017.
- "Lee Grant on life beyond the Hollywood blacklist", CBSnews.com, August 3, 2014.
- Turner Classic Movies "Evening With Lee Grant" (1of4), Detective Story, interview with Robert Osborne, 2014
- Douglas, Kirk. I Am Spartacus: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist, Open Road Media (2012) p. 26; ISBN 978-1453254806
- "Two for the Seesaw", CBS News, 2017
- Grant, Lee. I Said Yes to Everything: A Memoir, Penguin (2014) ISBN 978-0-399-16930-4
- Ross, Steven J. Hollywood Left and Right, Oxford Univ. Press (2011) p. 128; ISBN 978-0195181722
- Lee Grant at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Simon, Neil. Rewrites, Simon & Schuster (1996) p. 336)
- Ford, Elizabeth. The Makeover in Movies: Before and After in Hollywood Films, 1941-2002, McFarland (2004) p. 198
- Kael, Pauline. The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael, Penguin e-books (2011)
- Biskind, Peter. Star: The Life and Wild Times of Warren Beatty, Simon & Schuster (2010) e-book
- Shelley, Peter. Neil Simon on Screen: Adaptations and Original Scripts for Film and Television, McFarland (2015) p. 55
- Scene from Plaza Suite (1982), Act II, Lee Grant & Jerry Orbach
- Dern, Bruce. Things I've Said, But Probably Shouldn't Have: An Unrepentant Memoir, Wiley (2007) p. 231
- Lee Grant on IMDb
- Profile Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine Women in Film website; accessed September 9, 2014.
- Jarboe, Jan. "Sissy Spacek's Long Walk Home", Texas Monthly, February 1991, p. 126.
- Lipton, James. Inside Inside, Penguin Group (USA), October 18, 2007; ISBN 9781101211991, pg. 112
- Moore, Michael C. (2013-08-12). "THEATER: High-powered cast deals this 'Gin Game'". Kitsap Sun. Retrieved 2019-09-05.
- Rickey, Carrie (July 17, 2014), "'I Said Yes to Everything', by Lee Grant", SFGate.com, retrieved January 22, 2017,
Lyova Rosenthal was born in the mid-1920s. The granddaughter of Polish and Russian immigrants is famously inexact about her age. From her mid-20s to her mid-30s, the blacklist left her unemployable in TV and film, so she lied about her years, whatever they were, to remain viable as an actress.
- "Lee Grant | American actress and director". Britannica.com. November 17, 2019. Archived from the original on September 15, 2015.
- Fraley, Jason (July 6, 2015). "Screen legend dishes on Oscar, Emmys, Blacklist". WTOP-FM. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
- Nehme, Farra Smith (April 5, 2017). "Oscar-winner Lee Grant talks classic films, the blacklist and being a female director in Hollywood". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
- Lyman, Darryl (1999). Great Jews in the Performing Arts. Jonathan David Publishers. p. 124.
Lee Grant was born in New York City, New York, on October 31, 1931. (The date is so listed in Who's Who in America. Other sources give every year from 1926 through 1930.)
- Lee Grant (October 2016). "Lee Grant". Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast! (Interview). Interviewed by Gilbert Gottfried. 11 minutes 41 seconds. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
Grant: I was nominated and I was given the Best Actress Award in Cannes in 1952; Gottfried: So here you are and I think you were 24 at the time so this is like your career is exploding and then what happens then?
- Block, Maxine; Rothe, Anna Herthe; Candee, Marjorie Dent; Moritz, Charles (1975). Current Biography Yearbook. H.W. Wilson Company. p. 150.
- "New York, New York, Birth Index, 1910-1965". Ancestry.com. New York City Department of Health. Retrieved February 2, 2018. Note: online record mistranscribed as "21 Oct"; original document states October 31.
- "United States Public Records, 1970-2009," database, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QJZ3-MSLD : May 23, 2014), Lee Grant Manoff, Residence, Wilmington, Delaware, United States; a third party aggregator of publicly available information.
- The 1930 census (Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1577; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 1027; Image: 588.0; FHL microfilm: 2341312. Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls) gives her age as 4 and 6/12 months (i.e. 4 ½ years old). (NOTE: a) the census always requests the age of the individual being enumerated as of his or her last birthday; b) the first name is misspelled, as "Lyniva"). View original document at FamilySearch
- The 1940 census (Source Citation: Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2671; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 31-1922. Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. 2012. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls) gives her age as 14 in April 1940 (NOTE: a) the census always requests the age of the individual being enumerated as of his or her last birthday; b) the first name is misspelled as "Lyoua"). View original document at FamilySearch and FamilyTreeNow.
- Lee Grant (April 11, 2017). "Actress Lee Grant Confesses Her Age And Chats About Blacklisting" (Interview). X17 Online. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
- "New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957," database with images, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24V3-24H : October 2, 2015), Lyova Rosenthal, July 12, 1933; citing Immigration, New York, New York, United States, NARA microfilm publication T715 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
- United States. Congress. House. Un-American Activities (1958). Hearings. 2. United States Government Publishing Office. p. 2596.
- Vaughn, Robert (1972). Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 227. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
- Grant, Lee (July 8, 2014). "Read an Excerpt From Lee Grant's Memoir About Her Steamy Shampoo Days With Warren Beatty". Vulture.com. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
- Lee Grant (2014). "Conversation With Lee Grant, A". Interviewed by Robert Osborne. Turner Classic Movies. 7 minutes 50 seconds. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
By that time I was twenty-four when I was nominated for an Academy Award and I won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress... for this little teeny part in 1952
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lee Grant.|
- Lee Grant on IMDb
- Lee Grant at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Lee Grant at the University of Wisconsin's Actors Studio audio collection
- Lee Grant at The Interviews: An Oral History of Television
- on YouTube
- on YouTube
| Artistic Director of the Actors Studio
With: Carlin Glynn
and Stephen Lang