Farewell to actress Dorothy Stickney who died June 2 at her home in Manhattan. She spent half her life doing theatre -- and that life spanned 101 years.
The actress' husband, Howard Lindsey, co-wrote what is still the longest-running non-musical in Broadway history, Life With Father. The Lindsays appeared together in the show, which was initially turned down as a vehicle for the Lunts.
According to the New York Times obituary (June 3), Father was tried out in summer stock at Maine's Lakewood Theatre. Stickney was later quoted as saying she and her husband had never considered taking the lead roles themselves. Once they did, and the show reached Broadway (Nov. 8, 1939), opening night seemed like a disaster, with flubbed lines and minor accidents. "Little did we realize...the play would last through World War II."
Towards the end of the run, the Lindsays returned to the lead roles, pushing the show's grand total to 3,183 performances. A year later, they played the same characters in Life With Mother.
Born in North Dakota, Stickney studied at MN's North Western Dramatic School and had little success finding acting roles in New York until she met Lindsay, and they married in 1927. Stickney debuted on Broadway in 1926's The Squall, with later roles including the non-musical Chicago, On Borrowed Time the original The Front Page, Kind Sir, The Honeys, Brian Friel's The Mundy Scheme and George Kelly's Philip Goes Forth. Though she didn't make her musical debut until 1973, when she played Berthe in Pippin, Stickney had already appeared in two major television musicals: Rodgers & Hammrstein's "Cinderella" (1957) (as the queen) and Stephen Sondheim's "Evening Primrose" (1968).
Howard Lindsay passed away that year, and Stickney penned her memoirs, "Openings and Closings," in 1979.
-- By David Lefkowitz