Tammy Grimes: Wikis


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Tammy Grimes
Born Tammy Lee Grimes
January 30, 1934 (1934-01-30) (age 76)
Lynn, Massachusetts, USA
Occupation Actress, singer
Spouse(s) Christopher Plummer (1956-1960)
Jeremy Slate (1966-1967)

Tammy Lee Grimes (born January 30, 1934) is an American actress and singer.




Early life

Grimes was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, the daughter of Eola Willard (née Niles), a naturalist and spiritualist, and Nicholas Luther Grimes, an innkeeper, country-club manager, and farmer.[1] She attended high school at the then-all girls school, Beaver Country Day School, in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. She attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, and then studied acting at New York City's prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse.[2]


Known for a self-created persona described as "a daffy but endearing pseudo-English eccentric" with a "slightly askew accent that is two parts Grimesian British to one part British British" and a distinctive singing voice one critic called "a low, throaty quiver, a hum that takes wings", Grimes made her debut on the New York stage at the Neighborhood Playhouse in May 1955 in Jonah and the Whale. She made her Broadway stage debut as an understudy for Kim Stanley in the starring role in Bus Stop in June 1955.[2][3] In 1956, she appeared in the off-Broadway production, The Littlest Revue, and in 1959 had the lead role in the Broadway production of Noel Coward's play Look After Lulu!, after she was discovered in a nightclub by the playwright.[4]

She starred in the 1960 musical comedy The Unsinkable Molly Brown for which she won a Tony Award (Best Featured Actress in a Musical) for what The New York Times called her "buoyant" performance as a rough-hewn Colorado social climber. She portrayed the title character, a Western mining millionairess who survived the sinking of the Titanic. In 1964, she appeared in the episode "The He-She Chemistry" of Craig Stevens's CBS drama Mr. Broadway. She made two separate appearances on the fabled early '60's TV series "Route 66".

Tammy Grimes was originally chosen to play the part given to Elizabeth Montgomery in the hit show Bewitched, but was let out of her contract when playwright Noel Coward asked her to star in "High Spirits, a Broadway musical directed by Coward based on his Blithe Spirit.

In 1966, Grimes starred in her own ABC television series, The Tammy Grimes Show, in which she played a modern-day heiress who loved to spend money. Receiving "unfavorable critical reaction and poor ratings", it ran for only a month, although an additional six episodes had already been made.[5] Earlier, she had turned down the role of Samantha Stephens on Bewitched for which she had the right of first refusal.

Returning to the Broadway stage in 1969 after almost a decade of performing in what The New York Times called "dubious delights", Grimes appeared in a revival of Noel Coward's Private Lives as "Amanda", winning the Tony Award for Best Actress. Th New York Times called her performance "outrageously appealing. She plays every cheap trick in the histrionic book with supreme aplomb and adorable confidence. Her voice moans, purrs, splutters; she gesticulates with her eyes, almost shouts with her hair. She is all campy, impossible woman, a lovable phony with the hint of tigress about her, so ridiculously artificial that she just has to be for real".

During her career, she spent several seasons at the Stratford Festival of Canada in Stratford, Ontario and has appeared in a number of television series and motion pictures. Grimes has also entertained at various New York city night clubs and recorded several albums of songs; she also recited poetry as part of a 1968 solo act in the Persian Room of the Plaza Hotel. Her voice can be heard in romantic duets on some of Ben Bagley's anthology albums of Broadway songs under his Painted Smiles record label. In 1982, she hosted the final season of CBS Radio Mystery Theater. In 1983 Grimes was dismissed from her co-starring role in the Neil Simon play Actors and Actresses, reportedly due to an inability to learn her lines.[6]

In 2003, Grimes was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.

She remains active on stage. In 2004 she joined the company of "Tasting Memories", a "compilation of delicious reveries in poetry, song and prose," with a starry rotating cast including Kitty Carlisle Hart, Rosemary Harris, Philip Bosco, Alvin Epstein, Joy Franz and Kathleen Noone.[7]

In 2005 Grimes worked with director Brandon Jameson to voice UNICEF's multi-award winning tribute to Sesame Workshop.

In recent years, Grimes has showcased her talents in a critically acclaimed one-woman show.[8]

Personal life

Grimes married Canadian actor Christopher Plummer in August 1956,[9] with whom she had a daughter, actress Amanda Plummer. They were divorced in 1960.

Her second husband was actor Jeremy Slate, whom she married in 1966 and divorced a year later.

Her third husband was composer Richard Bell (died 2005), whom she married in 1971.[10]

In 1965 Grimes made headlines after she had been beaten and injured twice in four days by what were described as "white racists". According to a report, "Miss Grimes said she believed the attacks were related to her association with several Negro entertainers and recent appearances in public with Sammy Davis Jr., the Negro actor, who was said to be staging a night club act for her".[11]


  • Theatre World Award - Look After Lulu (1959)
  • Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical - The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1961)
  • Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play - Private Lives (1970)





Grimes released three known one-off singles during the 1960s, none of which charted:

  • "Home Sweet Heaven"/"You'd Better Love Me" (ABC 10551) 1964, from High Spirits
  • "The Big Hurt"/"Nobody Needs Your Love More Than I Do" (Reprise 0487) 1966
  • "I Really Loved Harold"/"Father O'Conner" (Buddha 99) 1969

She recorded two albums in the early 1960s, which were re-released in one album in 2004,The Unmistakable Tammy Grimes.

She is featured on the following Original Cast Recordings: The Littlest Revue, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, High Spririts, 42nd Street, and Sunset, as well as a TV Cast Album of the televised version of George M Cohan's "45 Minutes from Broadway". All have been released on CD, though High Spirits in now out of print.

Tammy Grimes also did the introductory narration for the American rebroadcast of the BBC's 1981 radio production of The Lord of the Rings.

She recorded an album of children's stories, read out loud, called "Hooray for Captain Jane" in the early 70's


  1. ^ "Tammy Lee Grimes Biography". filmreference. 2008. http://www.filmreference.com/film/57/Tammy-Grimes.html. Retrieved 2008-07-06. 
  2. ^ a b "Tammy Grimes biography",allmusic.com, accessed January 9, 2009
  3. ^ Calta, Louis, "Kim Stanley Misses Show", The New York Times, June 25, 1955, p. 8
  4. ^ "Tammy Grimes in British-Flavored Solo", The New York Times, 30 May 1988
  5. ^ "A.B.C.-TV Ax Falls On 'Tammy Grimes'", The New York Times, 28 September 1966
  6. ^ "Tammy Grimes Dismissed From Play", The New York Times, 12 February 1983
  7. ^ Simonson, Robert and Jones, Kenneth."Tasting Memories Brings Hart, Harris, Bosco and Grimes to Off-Broadway, May 19",playbill.com, May 19, 2004
  8. ^ Dale, Michael."Tammy Grimes @ The Metropolitan Room: Love Her While You May",broadwayworld.com, April 8, 2007
  9. ^ "Christopher Plummer Weds", The New York Times, August 24, 1956, p.15
  10. ^ Hertz, Linda."Tammy Grimes stars in one-woman show at the Plush Room",sfgate.com, October 28, 2007
  11. ^ "Tammy Grimes Hurt in Street Attacks", The New York Times, 12 March 1965

External links


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