Linda Lavin
American actor and singer
Linda Lavin
Linda Lavin is an American singer and actress. She is known for playing the title character in the sitcom Alice and for her Broadway performances. After acting as a child, Lavin joined the Compass Players in the late 1950s. She began acting on Broadway in the 1960s, earning notice in "It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's Superman" in 1966 and receiving her first Tony Award nomination in Last of the Red Hot Lovers in 1970.
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'Candide' Raises the Roof at the Rose
Huffington Post - about 1 month
By Jil Picariello, ZEALnyc Theater Editor, January 12, 2017 I'm what you might call a Candide virgin. Or close, whatever that means (we've gone to third base but not all the way? I know what it's about but don't own the cast album?). I've never read Voltaire's book. Don't know Leonard Bernstein's music. Saw the 1974 Broadway version, which I promptly wiped cleanly from my brain and never thought of again. Until last Friday evening, when I found myself seated in the Rose Theater. In their quest for renaissance, City Opera likes to time travel. Last year at this time, they brought us Tosca, the work that launched their inaugural season in 1944. And this January, they're pulling from not quite so long ago, with a 10-performance run of their 1982 production of Candide, helmed once again by the inimitable Harold Prince. I may have started a virgin, but now I'm a (mixed metaphor here) true believer. Such glorious music! Such a ridiculous, silly plot! Such a mixed bag of perfor ...
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Huffington Post article
'Candide' Celebrates its 60th Anniversary with Celebrity Tributes
Huffington Post - 2 months
Max Adrian, Louis Edmonds, Barbara Cook and Robert Rounseville in original 1956 production ZEALnyc, December 12, 2016 It's 1956: Dwight Eisenhower has been re-elected, The Ten Commandments opened in theaters, Elvis is crooning about his 'Hound Dog,' the best-seller Peyton Place is creating quite the scandal, Grace Kelly becomes "Princess Grace" and a smash-hit musical is running on Broadway called My Fair Lady. But on December 1st of that year, a new musical opens based on an eighteenth century French novel by Voltaire, with music by Leonard Bernstein and a book by Lillian Hellman. There are a number of lyricists, including James Agee (his contributions were ultimately not used), Dorothy Parker, John Latouche and Richard Wilbur. Who could have imagined at the time that the seed of this undertaking would grow and change and evolve into a work that defies definition (opera? operetta? musical theater?) and eventually gain "cult" status among musical theater aficionados in the proc ...
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At 79 Years Old, Linda Lavin Makes Her Operatic Debut
Wall Street Journal - 4 months
This winter actress Linda Lavin, whom many know from the sitcom ‘Alice,’ will showcase her vocal chops with the rebooted New York City Opera in ‘Candide,’ the comic operetta by Leonard Bernstein.
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Wall Street Journal article
On the Culture Front: NYC Winter Jazzfest, Lazarus and more
Huffington Post - about 1 year
When Richard Greenberg is at his best, his plays not only vividly illuminate a specific and intimate world but they compel the viewer to look inward and reflect on the arc of their own lives. This is the profound effect that I remember feeling when I first read "Three Days of Rain" - the dialogue so bluntly honest yet meticulously crafted with wit and heart. I preferred "Take Me Out" in its unabridged Public Theater production because even though it contained material that could be and was eventually cut, it was so intricately constructed and woven into the core of its characters. His latest play, "Our Mother's Brief Affair," was first produced at the South Coast Rep a few years ago and is currently running on Manhattan Theatre Club's Broadway stage. It takes a similar structure to "Three Days of Rain" of juxtaposing past and present, but instead of giving each period its own act, the two share the stage like estranged friends exchanging an awkward moment. There's a beauty to having the ...
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Huffington Post article
Stage Door: <i>Noises Off, Our Mother's Brief Affair</i>
Huffington Post - about 1 year
The revival of Noises Off, one of the funniest Broadway shows, is killing them at the American Airlines Theater. A crackerjack cast and razor-sharp timing are key to Michael Frayn's backstage farce, a bedroom comedy that sends up theater, needy actors and behind-the-scenes hijinks with glee. It opens as a wacky road company is rehearsing Nothing On at the Weston-super-Mare theater in Britain. It's a silly romp, with actors starring as lovers (Megan Hilty and David Furr) in a country house, assumed to be empty. Its owners (Kate Jennings Grant and Jeremy Shamos) live in Spain to avoid taxes, so when they illicitly steal into their home, they barely avoid meeting each other. Throw in Andrea Martin as a soap-opera actress playing a kooky housekeeper and exasperated theater director (Campbell Scott) juggling both a complicated love life and a fraught production, and it's all chaos, all the time. Farce depends on split-second timing, especially since Frayn's play, particularly in ...
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Huffington Post article
Aisle View: The New Linda Lavin Play
Huffington Post - about 1 year
Linda Lavin in Our Mother's Brief Affair. Photo: Joan Marcus A character steps out of character, just before the first act curtain of Our Mother's Brief Affair--the new Richard Greenberg comedy from the Manhattan Theatre Club--and says "for those of you who are thinking, oy vey, again with the Rosenbergs!, our apologies." Apologies are in order, yes. Here we have another geriatric comedy--of the genre popularly known as "the Linda Lavin play"--pleasantly steaming along, courtesy of heavy lifting by Linda Lavin herself. Suddenly, a big mystery emerges; without said big mystery, there'd be little upon which to build the second act. To wit: the fellow playing the man with whom the mother of the title is having the affair, says "I'm David Greenglass." From a portion of some audiences, I suppose, this might get a random gasp; thirty years ago, it might have been especially effective. Today, not so much; Linda Lavin's response--or, rather, the response of the main character in the n ...
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Huffington Post article
Empathy for the Walking Wounded
Huffington Post - about 1 year
Fifty years ago, I spent my summers at a sailing camp run by the Greater Providence YMCA. Having failed as a counselor-in-training, I was moved into an administrative position (running the camp's office and store). However, one thing made me stand out from other members of the top staff. Whenever one of them stood up to make an announcement to the 225 campers and staff seated in the dining hall, they were met with curious attention. Whenever I stood up to make an announcement, I was met with a thunderous chorus of "George is fat and ugly! George is gross and cheap!" The campers loved it. Realizing there was no way to stop them (and that they would all return home in a few weeks), I chose the path of least resistance. I simply got used to it. Over the decades it's become easier for me to see how we attempt to separate our society into peculiar subgroups of the general population. Some people only want to know if a person is considered Hot or Not. For years, there was no ...
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The New Age of Narcissism
Huffington Post - over 1 year
Back in the 1970s, when Tom Wolfe started referring to Baby Boomers as the "Me Generation," he could not have imagined how his words would be applied to future generations. Thanks to smartphones, digital technology and social media, it has become nearly impossible for anyone who is online to avoid the tidal waves of narcissism coursing through cyberspace. As a diarist on Daily Kos astutely noted while referring to the brouhaha surrounding Kentucky's Kim Davis: In the United States today, believers have become spoiled teens who were never disciplined or even told that the world does not revolve around them. They do not have the personal conviction of their faith, have become entitled, and feel that the world must accommodate itself to whatever they claim to believe at the moment so that they are never inconvenienced. Courage? That's for suckers. These spoiled brats and cowards are the opposite of believers. They are spoiled whiners. Members of recent generations have bee ...
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London Aisle View: A Rose By Any Name
Huffington Post - over 1 year
Imelda Staunton in Gypsy. Photo: Johan Persson Ethel Merman. Angela Lansbury. Bernadette Peters. Patti LuPone. Imelda Staunton. One name, pretty clearly, doesn't belong on that list of larger-than-life musical comedy stars--and, thus, seems an unlikely candidate for the larger-than-life role of Rose in Gypsy. But that distinction is the key to what makes the current West End Gypsy, at the Savoy, so indomitable. Rose is, to quote her boyfriend/agent/dishrag Herbie, "a pioneer woman without a frontier." Once can find many descriptions for Ethel, Angela, Bernadette or Patti, but "pioneer woman" is a bit of a stretch. They can act the role of a pioneer woman, sure, and do so convincingly; but seeing them roam up the aisle barking "sing out, Louise" with Chowsie the dog tucked under their arm, you always felt you were watching a musical comedy star in what might potentially be the role of their lifetime. Gypsy, it says on the houseboards; but the performer in the star dressing room, ...
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Linda Lavin
  • 2014
    Age 76
    Lavin appeared in the new Nicky Silver play Too Much Sun, which opened Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theater on May 18, 2014.
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  • 2013
    Age 75
    She starred in NBC's short-lived sitcom, Sean Saves the World in 2013 as Lorna.
    More Details Hide Details Lavin was born in Portland, Maine, the daughter of David J. Lavin, a businessman; and Lucille (née Potter), an opera singer. The Lavin family were active members of the local area Jewish community. Her family was musically talented, and Lavin has been onstage since the age of five. She attended Waynflete School before enrolling in the College of William and Mary. While at William and Mary she performed with the William and Mary Theater in many productions directed by long-time Professor Howard Scammon.
  • 2012
    Age 74
    In September 2012 Lavin announced that she intended to sell her home in Wilmington and return to New York City.
    More Details Hide Details Lavin and Bakunas have lived in New York City since circa 2013-2014. Lavin was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame for 2010 in January 2011. Tony Awards Drama Desk Awards Obie Award Golden Globe Awards Primetime Emmy Awards
    Her recording, Possibilities was released by Ghostlight Records in 2012.
    More Details Hide Details Steven Suskin wrote: "There is still that sweet, friendly sound of long ago (and 'sweet' and 'friendly' are not words you'd use to describe Lavin-the-actress)."
    She reprised her role in the Broadway production, which opened at the Cort Theatre on April 23, 2012 and closed on July 1, 2012.
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    She performed with the Wilmington Symphony (Wilmington, North Carolina) in March 2012.
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  • 2011
    Age 73
    She appeared in the premiere of the Nicky Silver play The Lyons at the Off-Broadway Vineyard Theatre, beginning in September 2011, through November 11.
    More Details Hide Details Ben Brantley, The New York Times reviewer, commented: "Watching Ms. Lavin, I found myself thinking of Nora from Ibsen’s 'Doll’s House' — well, a pursed-lipped, lemony-sour, older Nora in pseudo-Chanel, one who’s never at a loss for what to say and when to say it. Rita may be a little behind schedule in discovering herself, but no one can fault the hair-trigger timing of the actress playing her or the surprising dimensions she finds within one-liners."
    Lavin was featured in the Kennedy Center (Washington, DC) production of the musical Follies, from May 2011 to June 2011, as Hattie Walker.
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  • 2010
    Age 72
    She appeared in the new play by Jon Robin Baitz, Other Desert Cities, Off-Broadway at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater (Lincoln Center) beginning in previews in December 2010, closing February 27, 2011.
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    In 2010, Lavin appeared as Ruth Steiner in a Broadway revival of the play Collected Stories, reprising her role for a PBS production of the play, and received a fifth Tony nomination for the role.
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  • 2002
    Age 64
    She played Marjorie in The Tale of the Allergist's Wife (2000–2001), co-starring Tony Roberts and Michele Lee, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award, Leading Actress in a Play, and Drama Desk Award, and "nanny" for Helen (young Carol Burnett, played by Sara Niemietz and Donna Lynne Champlin) in Hollywood Arms in Chicago and on Broadway in 2002.
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  • 1998
    Age 60
    In Wilmington, she was a stage director. One of her directorial credits was a 1998 production of William Shakespeare's As You Like It, updated to a Brazilian jazz style.
    More Details Hide Details In both Wilmington and New York she teaches master classes in acting and singing.
  • 1995
    Age 57
    In 1995 she appeared in the Off-Broadway Death-Defying Acts, which consists of three one-act plays; Lavin performed in the Elaine May ("Hotline") and Woody Allen plays ("Central Park West").
    More Details Hide Details She was nominated for a Drama Desk Award (Outstanding Actress - Play) and won an Obie Award (Performance) and the Lucille Lortel Award. She also directed theater during this period.
  • 1992
    Age 54
    Her second marriage to Kip Niven, who played the boyfriend of Beth Howland's character, Vera Louise Gorman-Novak, ended in divorce in 1992.
    More Details Hide Details While Lavin has no biological children, she was stepmother to the children of her second husband, and is stepmother to those of her third and current husband, artist/musician Steve Bakunas, whom she married in 2005. The couple had resided in Wilmington, North Carolina where they were committed community members working together to rehabilitate impoverished neighborhoods including renovating many homes, donating a park to the city and creating a community theater, the Red Barn Studio. In 1997, Lavin founded The Linda Lavin Arts Foundation in Wilmington, "to promote and foster the advancement of the performing and visual arts, with special emphasis on arts in education. Her foundation has created a theater program called Girl Friends, whose purpose is to raise the self-esteem of at-risk teenage girls of the inner city."
  • 1990
    Age 52
    She then starred on Broadway in Gypsy as Mama Rose Hovick, replacing Tyne Daly in July 1990.
    More Details Hide Details June Havoc saw Lavin's performance in Gypsy and sent Lavin a photo of Havoc's mother, the real Rose Hovick, with a note of appreciation for Lavin's particular portrayal of the character. Subsequent Broadway roles included The Sisters Rosensweig, as a replacement Gorgeous Teitelbaum starting in September 1993 and Mrs. Van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank (1997–1998), opposite Natalie Portman, for which she garnered a Tony nomination as Featured Actress in a Play.
  • 1987
    Age 49
    After more than a decade away, appearing on television, Lavin returned to the Broadway stage in 1987, winning a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play and her second Drama Desk Award for her role as Kate in Simon's play Broadway Bound.
    More Details Hide Details Frank Rich, in his New York Times review, wrote: "One only wishes that Ms. Lavin, whose touching performance is of the same high integrity as the writing, could stay in the role forever." Theatre critic Charles McNulty wrote of her performance that it "is widely considered one of the most memorable in contemporary Broadway history, winning not just awards but praise approaching the level of myth. The distinguished theater critic Gordon Rogoff, extolling 'the power available only to an actor at the height of her own command of detail,' went so far as to describe Lavin's portrayal as 'one of those textbook lessons in great acting ' "
  • 1980
    Age 42
    Lavin has been married three times. Her first marriage to Ron Leibman ended in divorce in 1980.
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  • 1971
    Age 33
    Lavin's last Broadway credit before she moved to Hollywood was in Paul Sills' Story Theatre in 1971.
    More Details Hide Details In her early years, Lavin also appeared in numerous Off-Broadway productions, including the revueWet Paint (1965), the musical The Mad Show (1966) and Little Murders (1969). Lavin won the Theatre World Award for Wet Paint and a Drama Desk Award for Little Murders.
  • 1970
    Age 32
    She received her first Tony Award nomination in 1970, for her role in the Neil Simon play, Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1969).
    More Details Hide Details Clive Barnes, in his review for The New York Times, wrote: "Linda Lavin, eyebrows, sic flaunting like telegraphed messages, mouth twitching and pouting, voice as dry as thunder and with a cough like electric static, is beautiful as Elaine, the sex cat feeling coolly kittenish and looking for a safe tin roof."
  • 1969
    Age 31
    In 1969, Lavin married actor Ron Leibman, and by 1973 the couple had arrived in Hollywood, California.
    More Details Hide Details After various guest appearances on episodic television series such as The Nurses, Rhoda, Harry O and Kaz, Lavin landed a recurring role on Barney Miller during the first and second seasons (1975-1976). She left Barney Miller to star in the lead role in Alice. The show was a popular hit for CBS and ran from 1976 to 1985. The series was based on the Martin Scorsese-directed Ellen Burstyn film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. Lavin portrayed Alice Hyatt, a waitress and singer, the character that Burstyn had played. Lavin performed the series' theme song, "There's a New Girl in Town," which was written by David Shire and Alan and Marilyn Bergman and was updated for each of the first six seasons. During the series' nine-season run, Lavin earned two Golden Globe Awards and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination, and gained experience directing, especially during the later seasons. Lavin also played a dual role in Alice, as Debbie Walden, the wizened and former landlady of the character Vera Louise Gorman-Novak. Lavin also made numerous television appearances outside of Alice, including hosting her own holiday special for CBS, Linda in Wonderland (1980). She acted in two sitcoms, Room for Two (1992 - 93) and 1998's Conrad Bloom. In Room for Two, she played a mother who moved in with her daughter, played by Patricia Heaton, who has a show on a local television station.
  • 1967
    Age 29
    She also appeared in many telefilms between 1967 and 1998, including: Damn Yankees!, Sadbird, The Morning After, Jerry, Like Mom, Like Me, The $5.20 an Hour Dream, Another Woman's Child, Maricela, Lena: My 100 Children, Whitewash, A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story, Stolen Memories: Secrets from the Rose Garden, For the Future: The Irvine Fertility Scandal, The Ring, and Best Friends for Life.
    More Details Hide Details Lavin produced and starred in A Matter of Life and Death, the 1981 telefilm based on the work of nurse thanatologist Joy Ufema. She directed the 1990 telefilm Flour Babies. Lavin made her feature film debut in The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984). Her other feature film appearances include See You in the Morning, starring Jeff Bridges, and Alain Resnais's I Want to Go Home, opposite Gérard Depardieu (both 1989) and The Back-Up Plan (2010). Lavin began her career with Broadway appearances in the musical A Family Affair (1962) and plays such as The Riot Act (1963) and Carl Reiner's Something Different (1967). In his New York Times review of John Guare's two one-act plays, Cop-Out (1969), Clive Barnes wrote: "Miss Lavin carries versatility almost to the point of paranoia, and camps up a storm."
    In 1967, Lavin made an appearance as Gloria Thorpe in a television version of the musical Damn Yankees with Phil Silvers.
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  • 1966
    Age 28
    By the early 1960s, Lavin had appeared in several Broadway shows and appeared on the 1966 cast recordings of The Mad Show performing Stephen Sondheim's "The Boy From".
    More Details Hide Details From It's a Bird It's a Plane It's Superman, one of her numbers, "You've Got Possibilities," was the album's best-received song and was called "The one memorable song flirty, syncopated" by the Dallas Observer.
  • 1958
    Age 20
    In the summer of 1958 she played one of the leads in The Common Glory, an outdoor drama written by Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Paul Green and staged at an amphitheater on campus.
    More Details Hide Details Upon her graduation from William and Mary, she had already received her Actors' Equity Association card. She was a member of the Compass Players in the late 1950s.
  • 1937
    Born on October 15, 1937.
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