Today's audiences may best remember her as Frances Farmer's domineering mother in the film “Frances," starring Jessica Lange, a role that earned Stanley an Academy Award nomination. She was also the uncredited voice of the adult Scout in the classic film "To Kill a Mockingbird."
She played "Maggie, the cat" in the 1958 London premiere of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Peter Hall. In 1984 she won an Emmy in the role of Big Mama in a PBS/American Playhouse television production of the same play.
Stanley spent later decades out of the public eye, while teaching and inspiring younger actors, directors and writers — including Randall England, Dani Minnick, Melanie Jones and Alessandro Zezza, the team producing, directing and editing "The Needs of Kim Stanley: A Documentary."
The film's title comes from an acting exercise Stanley handed down to her students—wordlessly focusing on the primal needs to "charm, celebrate, seduce, entice, plead, accuse, destroy." In the documentary, Elaine Stritch, Ellen Burstyn, Jessica Lange, Sydney Pollack, Arthur Penn, Horton Foote, Estelle Parsons and Eli Wallach (among many others) testify to the power of Stanley's performances on stage and screen.
A Kickstarter campaign recently raised $27,000 towards the continuing costs of editing, music and rights clearances. Click here to donate.
A trailer for the film can be seen below: