Beatrice Straight, a Tony Award-winning Broadway actress who was born into high society but stayed linked to classics, new plays and roles in motion pictures, died April 7 in North Ridge, CA, at the age of 86, according to The New York Times.
Ms. Straight, the daughter of diplomat Major Willard Dickerman Straight and Dorothy (Whitney) Straight, made her Broadway debut in 1935 as a Spinning Girl in Bitter Oleander, was the original Elizabeth Proctor in Arthur Miller's The Crucible in 1953 and appeared in movies as late at 1991, when she played Goldie Hawn's mother in "Deceived."
She won a Tony Award playing oppressed Elizabeth Proctor in the Miller parable, The Crucible, on Broadway, and earned an Academy Award playing William Holden's rejected wife in "Network."
Ms. Straight attended Lincoln School in New York City, Dartington Hall in Devonshire, England and would later found the Dartington Hall Players with Michael Chekhov, who was an acting teacher to her. A producer, teacher and actress, Ms. Straight seemed at ease in classical roles as well as modern, and was seen in the early days of television in live drama. She also had a dramatic radio program on WMCA during World War II.
Ms. Straight replaced Wendy Hiller as Catherine Sloper in the original Broadway run of The Heiress (and toured) played Viola in Twelfth Night at the Little Theatre on Broadway, was Emily Dickinson in Eastward in Eden at the Royale and Lady Macduff in Macbeth at the National Theatre. She was a co-founder of Theatre Inc., a producing and presenting group that revived Pygmalion and Playboy of the Western World on Broadway in the mid 1940s, and first presented The Old Vic Theatre Company in the U.S.
Other stage credits include Edward Albee's Everything in the Garden (1967), Mrs. Alving in Roundabout Theatre Company's Ghosts (1973) and Gertrude in Circle Rep's Hamlet with William Hurt (1979).
She is predeceased by her second husband, the actor-producer, Peter Cookson. They performed together in The Heiress and producer Cookson mounted a production of The Innocents (a 1950 play based on "The Turn of the Screw") with her in the role of the governess, Miss Giddens. Survivors include sons Gary Cookson and Tony Cookson; stepchildren Peter Cookson Jr. and Jane Coopland; and brother Michael Straight.
— By Kenneth Jones