Tammy Lee Grimes was an American singer and actress best known for her unforgettable portrayals of leading ladies in dramatic theater productions. She made her Broadway debut with the 1955 play ‘Bus Stop,’ and a year later, she launched her off-Broadway career with a role in ‘The Littlest Revue’. Grimes then went on to act in a number of theatrical productions and received two Tony Awards in her career for the musical ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’ and the play ‘Private Lives’. Born in Lynn, Massachusetts, she studied acting at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre following her college education. The actress also received widespread popularity for her cabaret acts. On a personal note, she was married thrice and divorced twice. Her first husband was the popular Canadian actor Christopher Plummer with whom she had one daughter. The actress lived a long and productive life, and died in October 2016 from natural cause, at the age of 82.
Childhood & Early Life
Tammy Lee Grimes was born on January 30, 1934, in Lynn, Massachusetts, USA. Her father, Luther Nichols Grimes, was a farmer and country-club manager while her mother, Eola Willard, was a naturalist.
She attended Beaver Country Day School and later Stephens College. Grimes then attended New York City's Neighborhood Playhouse where she studied acting.
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Tammy Grimes made her stage debut in 1955 at the Neighborhood Playhouse in ‘Jonah and the Whale’. The same year, she launched her Broadway career with a starring role in the play ‘Bus Stop’.
She featured in ‘The Littlest Revue’, an off-Broadway production, in 1956. This was followed by a main role in the Broadway play ‘Look After Lulu’. During this time, Grimes also released her debut album titled ‘Julius Monk presents Tammy Grimes’.
She then starred in the 1960 musical ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’ and earned a Tony Award for her performance. Soon after this, she released two more albums: ‘Tammy Grimes’ and ‘The Unmistakable Tammy Grimes’.
Grimes next featured in the musical ‘High Spirits’ in 1964 and also appeared in an episode of CBS’ drama ‘Mr. Broadway’ that year. Two years later, she featured in her own TV series ‘The Tammy Grimes Show’ as an heiress who loves to spend money. The show ran for only a month due to poor ratings.
After appearing in the films ‘Three Bites of the Apple’ and ‘Play It as It Lays’, the actress had roles in the TV movies ‘The Horror at 37,000 Feet’ and ‘The Borrowers’.
In 1974, she lent her voice to the character of Albert in an animated television Christmas special titled ‘Twas the Night before Christmas’. After this, she played Diana in the play ‘California Suite’. This was followed by the role of Elmire in the Broadway production of ‘Tartuffe.’
In 1980, Grimes appeared in the musical ‘42nd Street.’ A year later, she narrated BBC's radio production of ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
She served as the host of CBS Radio Mystery Theater in 1982. That year, she also had a voice role in the American-Japanese fantasy film ‘The Last Unicorn’.
In the 1990s, she did the films ‘A Modern Affair’ and ‘Trouble on the Corner’. In 2007, she returned to the cabaret stage and appeared in a one-woman show.
In 1969, Tammy Grimes featured in a revival of Noël Coward's comedy ‘Private Lives’. It follows a divorced couple, who, while on a honeymoon with their new partners, find out that they are staying at the same hotel and soon realize that they still have romantic feelings for each other. Grimes’ performance in the play earned her the Tony Award for Best Actress.
Family & Personal Life
On August 16, 1956, Tammy Grimes married Canadian actor Christopher Plummer. The couple had one daughter, Amanda, who also went on to become an actress. They divorced in 1960.
Grimes then married actor Jeremy Slate in 1966; they were divorced within a year. She eventually married composer Richard Bell. They remained together until Bell's death in 2005.
She died on October 30, 2016, from natural causes, aged 82.