Grizzard, George

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George Grizzard was born in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, on April 1, 1928. He graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington D.C., and from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1949. Grizzard appeared in local amateur theatre during college and made his professional debut at Arena Stage in Washington in 1950, appearing in The Delectable Judge, The Taming of the Shrew, and Alice in Wonderland.

In 1951, Grizzard went to New York, where he studied acting with Sanford Meisner, and made his television debut in an episode of Crime Photographer. He spent 1952 to 1954 back at the Arena Stage Theatre, working on over twenty productions. Returning to New York in 1955, he made his Broadway debut in The Desperate Hours, and worked regularly on television for the next few years, appearing in such series as Star Tonight, Justice, Playwrights '56, The Kaiser Aluminum Hour, and Goodyear Playhouse. Grizzard's stage career proceeded simultaneously, with Broadway shows like The Happiest Millionaire (1956), for which he won a Theatre World Award, and The Disenchanted (1958), for which he received his first Tony Award nomination.

In 1960 Grizzard made his feature film debut in From the Terrace, and continued to act on television steadily. His Broadway career continued, with roles in Face of a Hero (1960); Mary, Mary, (1961); Big Fish, Little Fish (1961); and The Glass Menagerie (1965). In 1962, Grizzard began a career-long association with the playwright Edward Albee, when he originated the role of George in Albee's most famous play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? The same year, Grizzard made one of his most memorable film appearances, in Otto Preminger's Advise and Consent.

Grizzard was also active in regional theatre during the late 1950s and the 1960s. In 1959 he played opposite Rosemary Harris in Much Ado About Nothing in Wellesley, Massachusetts; and in 1963 and 1964, he appeared in Hamlet, Volpone, The Three Sisters, The Miser, Henry V, and Saint Joan at the Guthrie Theatre. During the late 1960s, Grizzard's Broadway plays included You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running (1967), Noel Coward's Sweet Potato (1968), and The Gingham Dog (1969). His television appearances included Warning Shot (1967); A Case of Libel (1968); Teacher, Teacher (1969); and The Choice (1969).

During the 1970s Grizzard acted on Broadway in Inquest (1970), The Country Girl (1972), The Creation of the World and Other Business (1972), Crown Matrimonial (1973), The Royal Family (1975), California Suite (1976), and Man and Superman (1978). Grizzard's 1970s and 1980s television and film work includes The Front Page (1970); Happy Birthday, Wanda June (1971); Indict and Convict (1974); The Adams Chronicles (1976); Comes a Horseman (1978); Firepower (1979); Attica (1980); The Oldest Living Graduate (1980); Wrong is Right (1982); Midas Valley (1984); Embassy (1985); International Airport (1985); The Deliberate Stranger (1986); and False Witness (1989). Some of Grizzard's off-Broadway productions in the 1980s include The Beach House (1985), at Circle Repertory Theatre; Another Antigone (1988), at Playwrights Horizons; and Love Letters (1989), at the Promenade Theatre.

In the 1990s and 2000s Grizzard appeared on Broadway in Albee's A Delicate Balance (1996), for which he won a Tony Award; Judgment at Nuremberg (2001); and Seascape (2005); and off-Broadway in Beautiful Child (2004); and Regrets Only (2006). He also appeared in the national tour of Harold Prince's revival of Show Boat (1995-1996) and many productions in such regional theatres as Hartford Stage, Yale Repertory, Bucks County Playhouse, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Paper Mill Playhouse, and the Berkshire Stage Festival. Film and television appearances from the 1990s and 2000s include The Golden Girls (1990), Not in My Family (1993), Scarlett (1994), Sisters and Other Strangers (1997), Wonder Boys (2000), Small time Crooks (2000), and Clint Eastwood's The Flags of Our Fathers (2006).

Grizzard died on October 2, 2007, in New York City, of complications from lung cancer. He was survived by his longtime companion, William Tynan.

From the guide to the George Grizzard papers, circa 1900-2007, 1951-2007, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf George Grizzard papers, circa 1900-2007, 1951-2007 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Wagner, Friedelind, 1918-1991. The making of the Ring : documentary with Friedelind Wagner, Wolfgang Wagner, Patrice Chéreau, Pierre Boulez, Brian Large, Gwyneth Jones, Donald McIntyre filmed at Bayreuth / introduced by Friedelind Wagner ; narrated by George Grizzard ; written by John Ardoin. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn John Eldon Thayer collection of motion picture memorabilia, 1916-1979. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Wagner, Friedelind, 1918-1991. The making of the Ring : documentary with Friedelind Wagner, Wolfgang Wagner, Patrice Chéreau, Pierre Boulez, Brian Large, Gwyneth Jones, Donald McIntyre filmed at Bayreuth / introduced by Friedelind Wagner ; narrated by George Grizzard ; written by John Ardoin. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf Albee, Edward, 1928-. Seascape / by Edward Albee, 2002. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Albee, Edward, 1928-. Seascape : a play in two acts / by Edward Albee, 2005. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Photographs from Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf [picture] : a play by Edward Albee. University of Houston, M.D. Anderson Library
referencedIn Frederick R. Koch collection of photographs of stage and screen actors and entertainers, ca. 1920-1979. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
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associatedWith Albee, Edward, 1928- person
associatedWith Koch, Frederick R. (Frederick Robinson), collector. person
associatedWith Thayer, John Eldon, 1899-1980 person
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Birth 1928-04-01

Death 2007-10-02

Americans

English

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