Judith Ivey May Be Watergate’s Martha Mitchell in New Off-Broadway Show

News   Judith Ivey May Be Watergate’s Martha Mitchell in New Off-Broadway Show
 
Judith Ivey’s next New York stage role may be Martha Mitchell, the outspoken Watergate figure.

Ivey, who is currently starring Off-Broadway in the solo project Women on Fire, told Playbill On-Line that, if all goes according to plan, the John Jeter play would go up August or September 2004 at a New York nonprofit. “I will say there’s interest coming,” she said. “I’ll keep the theatre quiet so I don’t put them on the spot.” “It deals with [Mitchell] and what happened to her during the Watergate days,” said Ivey. Martha Mitchell was one of the most prominent and unpredictable figures involved in the scandal that brought down the Nixon White House. She was the wife of John Mitchell, who ran Nixon’s successful 1968 presidential campaign and later became Attorney General. Martha, a wealthy daughter of the south, was known for her quick wit, sense of style and loquaciousness, and the Mitchells became very popular in Washington society.

Everything changed after the Watergate break-in was discovered. Martha believed Nixon was intent on using his Attorney General as a scapegoat. Looking to protect her husband, she defended her husband to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two young reporters at the Washington Post who broke the Watergate story. Soon, she began calling other reporters, often in the middle of the night.

As the administration grew more and more anxious about Martha’s loose-cannon behavior, they leaked word to the press that she had a drinking problem. John went so far as to lock his wife in a closet to keep her away from the phone. Martha also maintained that she was once held against her will in a California hotel room and sedated. Mitchell, who was later indicted and jailed, left his wife in 1973, never to see or speak to her again. When he was sentenced in February 1975, he said, “It could have been worse. They could have sentenced me to spend the rest of my life with Martha Mitchell.”

Martha Mitchell died a few months later, on May 30, 1975, of myeloma, a virulent bone marrow cancer. Her husband and daughter did not see her before she passed away. She was 57.

The versatile Ivey has appeared on stages of all descriptions. Recent credits include Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Alley Theatre, The Women of Lockerbie Off-Broadway for The New Group and Follies on Broadway. She won her Tony Awards for her work in Steaming and Hurlyburly.

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