The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

Elizabeth Wilson

Elizabeth Wilson

Born on Monday, April 4, 1921
Died on Saturday, May 9, 2015

Interviewed on: Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Location: Primary Stages Offices
Interviewed by: Casey Childs
Interview #1
"Off-Broadway was a gift… to the actor, a gift to the writer… because there wasn’t the same kind of pressure… it was so relaxed and they did much braver pieces."
Elizabeth Wilson Highlights
Video Length: 3 Minutes, 7 Seconds
Elizabeth Wilson Interview
Video Length: 1 hour, 6 minutes

Elizabeth Wilson was an actress whose theatre career spanned over 60 years. During her Off-Broadway years, she worked with The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, and Circle in the Square Theatre. Her Off-Broadway acting credits include: YES IS FOR A VERY YOUNG MAN (1963), EH? (1966), LITTLE MURDERS (1969), STICKS AND BONES (1971), ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL (1978), TAKEN IN MARRIAGE(1979), SALONIKA (1985), ANTEROOM (1985), and TONGUE OF A BIRD (1999). In 1972, she won an OBIE Award for her performance in STICKS AND BONES. Then, in 1979, she was the recipient of another OBIE Award for her work in TAKEN IN MARRIAGE. She was elected to the Theater Hall of Fame in 2006.

Wilson grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and began her acting career at the Barter Theatre in Virginia. She moved to New York City in 1942 to study under Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse. Upon graduation, Wilson spent an entire year overseas performing with the USO during World War II.  Wilson’s Broadway debut was as Christine Schoenwalder in Picnic (1953). Her other Broadway credits include: The Desk Set (1955), The Tunnel of Love (1957), Big Fish, Little Fish (1961), The Little Foxes (1967), Sticks and Bones (1972), Uncle Vanya (1973), The Threepenny Opera (1976), Morning’s at Seven (1980), You Can’t Take It With You (1983), A Delicate Balance (1996), and Waiting in the Wings (1999). Her film credits include: Picnic (1955), The Birds (1963), The Graduate (1967), Catch-22 (1970), Little Murders (1971), Nine to Five (1980), The Addams Family (1991), Quiz Show (1994), and Hyde Park on Hudson (2012). Her television credits include: “East Side/West Side,” “Dark Shadows,” “All in the Family,” and “Murder, She Wrote.” Wilson received a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for Sticks and Bones and a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance for Morning’s at Seven.

Mentioned in Interview

Sanford Meisner, Herbert Berghof, Helen Hayes, Julie Harris, George C. Scott, David Rabe, Kim Stanley, Joshua Logan, William Inge, Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman, Mike Nichols, Meryl Streep, Alan Arkin, Joseph Papp, Barter Theatre, Neighborhood Playhouse, NYSF/The Public, Equity Library Theatre, Circle in the Square, EH?, STICKS AND BONES