Birthday: January 21, 1934
Died At Age: 83
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Also Known As: Elizabeth Ann Wedgeworth
Born in: Abilene, Texas, United States
Famous as: Actress
Spouse/Ex-: Ernie Martin (m. 1970), Rip Torn (m. 1955–1961)
father: Cortus Wedgeworth
mother: Elizabeth Wedgeworth
children: Danae Torn, Dianna Martin
Died on: November 16, 2017
place of death: New York City, New York, U.S.
U.S. State: Texas
education: University of Texas at Austin
Ann Wedgeworth was a critically acclaimed American actress who dabbled in movies, plays and television shows. She was initially known as Elizabeth Ann Wedgeworth but she dropped her first name Elizabeth after graduation when she decided to move to New York City and enter the show business. Though she played several exquisite roles throughout her long career, she is most renowned for her role as Merleen Elldridge in the sitcom ‘Evening Shade’ and as Lana Shields in the sitcom ‘Three's Company’. This multi-talented actress made her debut in films with ‘Andy’ (1965), and appeared in supporting roles in several movies thereafter. Her work was rewarded in the form of two NSFC Award nominations for her roles in ‘Sweet Dreams’ (1985) and ‘Citizens Band’ (1977). She also won the Tony Award’s Best Performance by a Featured Actress for ‘Chapter Two’ (1978). Ann was last seen in the movie ‘The Hawk Is Dying’ with Paul Giamatti in the year 2006. This movie was showcased at the famous Sundance Film Festival. She married twice and has two daughters from both her marriages; both her daughters are also actors.
Childhood & Early Life
Ann Wedgeworth was born on January 21, 1934, in Abilene, Texas, U.S., to Elizabeth Wedgeworth and Cortus Wedgeworth. Her father was a school teacher.
She did her graduation from the Highland Park School in Texas. At this school she was also Jayne Mansfield’s classmate.
Ann dropped the first name Elizabeth after she graduated in 1957 from University of Texas. She then moved to New York City and was finally admitted to The Actors Studio after several auditions.
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Ann Wedgeworth first made her foray into theater with her Broadway debut in ‘Make a Million’ in 1958. She then starred in several Broadway and off-Broadway productions that included ‘Blues for Mister Charlie’, ‘Period of Adjustment’, ‘Thieves’ and ‘The Last Analysis’.
She then appeared in ‘A Lie of the Mind’ by Sam Shepard, with co-stars Geraldine Page and Harvey Keitel at the Promenade Theatre in New York. This ran from December 5, 1985 to June 1, 1986. Page in fact had ended up marrying Ann’s former husband Rip Torn.
Ann Wedgeworth also ventured into movies and made her movie debut with the film ‘Andy’ in 1965. She played the female lead against actor Gene Hackman in the film ‘Scarecrow’ in 1973.
She played supporting role in the movies ‘Law and Disorder’, ‘Bang the Drum Slowly’, ‘Thieves’ and ‘One Summer Love’. She appeared with her former husband, Rip Torn, in the movie ‘Birch Interval’ in 1976. This was after fifteen years of divorce and by then he was married to Geraldine Page.
In the 1980s, she played supporting role in movies, such as ‘No Small Affair’ and ‘Made in Heaven’. She then portrayed Aunt Fern in ‘Steel Magnolias’ in 1989.
She appeared as the mother of Sissy Spacek in ‘Hard Promises’ in 1991. Ann also appeared in two movies opposite Renée Zellweger: ‘The Whole Wide World’ and ‘Love and a .45’.
Ann was also seen in the ‘The Hawk Is Dying’ opposite Paul Giamatti. This indie film was showcased at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
Ann Wedgeworth has also done several television series throughout the years and had many key performances on soap operas. She acted as 'Angie' Talbot on the show ‘The Edge of Night’. The sitcom ran from 1966 to 1967 after which she joined the show ‘Another World’ where she played the character of Lahoma Vale Lucas. This show lasted from 1967 to 1970. She also appeared in its spinoff ‘Somerset’ from 1970 to 1973.
She was then given the role of Lana Shields on the popular television show ‘Three's Company’ in 1979. She was incorporated in the show to fill Audra Lindley’s.
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Lana’s addition to the cast created tension between series actor, John Ritter, and the show's writers. Ritter thought that his role as the womanizing Jack Tripper would suffer as it would be hard to explain how he would turn down the advances of Lana, an attractive older woman. The writers argued that he would not be enamored by her due to the fact that she was older but Ritter did not agree.
Ann asked that either her character be rewritten in its original form as she was hardly given any screen time or she should be released. She appeared in nine episodes of this series and her character was written off without any explanation.
Ann then starred with Linda Bloodworth-Thomason in the comedy series, ‘Filthy Rich’, in 1982, where she played good-natured Bootsie Westchester. This series was canceled in 1983 after just two seasons.
She guest-starred as Audrey Conner, Dan Conner’s mother on the ABC show, ‘Roseanne’ in 1989. Ann’s longest television role was on the CBS show ‘Evening Shade’ where she starred as Merleen Eldridge. This was on air from 1990 to 1994.
She also starred in the Evening Shade spin-off called ‘Harlan & Merleen’ in 1989 but it was unsuccessful.
Ann Wedgeworth portrayed several characters in various successful movies and shows but she was mainly known for her role as Lana Shields in the show ‘Three's Company’ as well as her role as Merleen Eldridge on the CBS show ‘Evening Shade’ that aired from 1990 to 1994. She was also recognized for her role in the ‘The Hawk is Dying’ with costar Paul Giamatti.
Awards & Achievements
In 1977, Ann Wedgeworth was awarded the Best Supporting Actress by the National Society of Film Critics for the movie Handle with Care’.
She won the Best Actress (Featured Role - Play) 1978 Tony Award for her role in ‘Chapter Two’.
She won a Drama Desk Award for the play ‘A Lie of the Mind’ in 1986.
Personal Life & Legacy
Ann Wedgeworth married actor, Rip Torn, in 1955. She gave birth to a daughter, Danae Torn, also an actress. The couple divorced in 1961.
In 1970, she married Ernie Martin, an acting teacher and director. She gave birth to a daughter, Dianna Martin, who is an acting teacher/ actress/writer.
Ann Wedgeworth died on November 16, 2017 in New York City. She was 83.