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Grayson Hall (September 18, 1922 – August 7, 1985) was an American television, film and stage actress. She was widely regarded for her avant-garde theatrical performances from the 1960s to the 1980s. Hall was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and a Golden Globe Award for the John Huston film The Night of the Iguana (1964).
September 18, 1922
|Died||August 7, 1985 (aged 62)|
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
|Other names||Shirley Grayson|
|Height||5 ft 6 in (168 cm)|
Bradbart "Ted" Brooks
(m. 1946; div. 1949)
Sam Hall (m. 1952–1985)
She played multiple prominent roles in the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows (1966–71), and appeared on One Life to Live (1982–83). In 2006, a biography of her life was released titled Grayson Hall: A Hard Act to Follow.
Hall was born Shirley Grossman in Philadelphia in 1922, the only child of Eleanor and Joseph Grossman. Her father was from Latvia and her mother, who had acted in the Yiddish theatre, was from South Africa. Both were from Jewish immigrant families.
When Hall was eight, her parents separated but never divorced. Hall became interested in acting, as an escape from a painful childhood, and auditioned for plays in New York City while she was still attending Simon Gratz High School in North Philadelphia. She enrolled at Temple University but did not matriculate. She landed her first professional job doing summer stock in Long Island in 1942.
In 1946, she married fellow actor Bradbart "Ted" Brooks in Los Angeles. They separated in 1949 and she returned to New York. In 1952, she married writer Sam Hall. Their son, Matthew, was born in 1958. She had always used the stage name Shirley Grayson, but Sam Hall called her Grayson, "like an old Army buddy", she said in an interview. She eventually adopted Grayson Hall as her professional name.
Hall had an active stage career in New York City. Her theater credits included roles in off-Broadway productions of influential avant-garde plays including "Six Characters in Search of an Author" by Luigi Pirandello (Phoenix Theatre, 1955). She also performed in the first New York production of "The Balcony" by Jean Genet for more than a year at (Circle in the Square Downtown) in Greenwich Village. In The Balcony she portrayed Irma, the madam of a most irregular bordello in the midst of a revolutionary uprising. It was the longest running off-Broadway play for many decades. She was succeeded in the role by Nancy Marchand.
Having guest starred on various television programs during the mid-1950s, Hall made her film debut in 1961 in Run Across the River. Hall also made Satan in High Heels, starring Meg Myles, in which Hall portrayed a cabaret club owner named Pepe. She later disavowed the film.
In September 1963, Hall traveled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to play the role of Judith Fellowes in John Huston's version of The Night of the Iguana, based on the original play by Tennessee Williams. She was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Fellowes, a latent lesbian women's college instructor. In the original play, the character was not sympathetic but Huston rewrote the character, wanting more complexity and sympathy.
She was featured as a kidnapped bank teller in Walt Disney's That Darn Cat! in 1965. In 1967, she played a high-profile middle-aged literary editor who becomes a Thrush agent on the television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., in an episode written by Harlan Ellison.
Hall's best-known television role was that of Dr. Julia Hoffman, on Dark Shadows, where she portrayed the loyal confidant and friend of the vampire, Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid). Other key roles that she played on the show were those of Countess Natalie Dupres; Magda Rakosi, a Gypsy; Hoffman, a Mrs. Danvers-type housekeeper, Julia Collins; and Constance Collins, sister of Brutus Collins. She also appeared in both Dark Shadows feature films: House of Dark Shadows, again as Dr. Julia Hoffman, and Night of Dark Shadows, as a new character, housekeeper Carlotta Drake.
After Dark Shadows ended in 1971, she had a brief stint as reporter Marge Grey on All My Children (1973). She continued acting on stage as Warda in Jean Genet's The Screens (1971–72) and The Lady in Gray/The Fly in Happy End (1977) which co-starred Meryl Streep and Christopher Lloyd.
In the 1970s she performed in several television films. She appeared in Gargoyles (ABC), filmed in New Mexico with Cornel Wilde, and the Dan Curtis television film The Great Ice Rip-Off (ABC) opposite Lee J. Cobb and Gig Young. She starred in the mystery film The Two Deaths of Sean Doolittle (ABC) which was written by her husband, Sam Hall.
She appeared in the Broadway premiere of The Suicide (1980) with Derek Jacobi, and appeared opposite Geraldine Page, Carrie Nye and Madeleine Sherwood in an off-Broadway revival of The Madwoman of Chaillot.
|1959||The United States Steel Hour||Secretary||Episode: "Wish on the Moon"|
Credited as Shirley Grayson
|1962||Satan in High Heels||Pepe|
|1964||The Parisienne and the Prudes||Decorator|
|1964||Route 66||Mrs. Reston||Episode: "Follow the White Dove with the Broken Wing"|
|1964||The Night of the Iguana||Judith Fellowes||Nominated: Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress|
Nominated: Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
|1965||Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre||Miss Fitzhugh||Episode: "Back to Back"|
|1965||That Darn Cat!||Margaret Miller|
|1966||Qui êtes vous, Polly Maggoo?||Miss Maxwell||English title: Who Are You, Polly Magoo?|
|1966||The Trials of O'Brien||Louise Malcolm||Episode: "A Horse Called Destiny"|
|1967||The Man from U.N.C.L.E.||Judy Merril||Episode: "The Pieces of Fate Affair"|
|1967||The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.||Mrs. Fowler||Episode: "The High and the Deadly Affair"|
|1967 to 1971||Dark Shadows||Dr. Julia Hoffman
|1970||Night Gallery||Ann Brigham||Episode: "The House/Certain Shadows on the Wall"|
|1970||End of the Road||Peggy Rankin|
|1970||House of Dark Shadows||Dr. Julia Hoffman|
|1970||Adam at Six A.M.||Inez Treadly|
|1971||Night of Dark Shadows||Carlotta Drake||Alternative title: Curse of Dark Shadows|
|1972||Gargoyles (TV Movie)||Mrs. Parks|
|1973||All My Children||Marge Grey||Unknown episodes|
|1974||Kojak||Mrs. Campbell||Episode: "Hush Now, Don't You Die"|
|1982 to 1983||One Life to Live||Euphemia Ralston||Unknown episodes|
- Aged 7 on April 11, 1930 per United States census records, ancestry.com; accessed November 1, 2015.
- Jamison, R.J. (2006). Grayson Hall: A Hard Act to Follow. iUniverse. pp. 4–5. ISBN 0-595-40462-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Hard Act To Follow at Goodreads, goodreads.com; accessed December 17, 2016.
- Hall also gave 1923 and 1925 as her year of birth on various documents, but elementary school and census records substantively establish 1922 as the correct year.
- Grayson Hall at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- "Lortel Archives"
- Grayson Hall at the Internet Broadway Database
- Grayson Hall on IMDb
- Scott, K.L. (2000). Dark Shadows Almanac (2nd ed.). Pomegranate Press. ISBN 978-0-938817-18-5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Napoleon, Davi (1991). Chelsea on the Edge: The Adventures of an American Theater. Iowa State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8138-1713-2.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Grayson Hall: A Hard Act to Follow
- Hamrick, Craig & Jamison, R. J. Barnabas & Company: The Cast of the TV Classic Dark Shadows (revised 2012) iUniverse, amazon.com; accessed October 31, 2012.