Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1961
February 11, 1925
Tularosa, New Mexico, U.S.
|Died||August 20, 2001
Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.
|Alma mater||Actors Studio
University of New Mexico
(m. 1945; div. 1946)
(m. 1949; div. 1956)
(m. 1958; div. 1964)
(m. 1964; div. 1967)
She began her acting career in theatre, and subsequently attended the Actors Studio in New York City, New York. She received the 1952 Theatre World Award for her role in The Chase (1952), and starred in the Broadway productions of Picnic (1953) and Bus Stop (1955). Stanley was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her roles in A Touch of the Poet (1959) and A Far Country (1962).
In the 1950s, Stanley was a prolific performer in television, and later progressed to film, with a well-received performance in The Goddess (1959). She was the narrator of To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), and starred in Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), for which she won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She was less active during the remainder of her career; two of her later film successes were as the mother of Frances Farmer in Frances (1982), for which she received a second Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress, and as Pancho Barnes in The Right Stuff (1983). She received an Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress - Miniseries or a Movie for her performance as Big Mama in a television adaptation of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1985. That same year, Kim Stanley was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.
Stanley was born Patricia Reid in Tularosa, New Mexico, the daughter of Ann (née Miller), an interior decorator, and J. T. Reid, a professor of philosophy and education at the University of New Mexico, located in Albuquerque. Her father was of Irish or Scottish descent, born and raised in Texas, where he met her mother (who was of German and English ancestry). She had three brothers (Howard Clinton Reid, a psychiatrist; Kenneth Reid, killed in pilot training during World War II; and Justin Truman Reid, a lawyer); and a half-sister (Carol Ann Reid). She was a drama major at the University of New Mexico, and later studied at the Pasadena Playhouse and adopted her maternal grandmother's surname as her stage name.
Stanley was a successful Broadway actress with only a few film roles. She was singled out by The New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson for her early work. She eventually attended the Actors Studio, studying under Elia Kazan, Lee Strasberg, and Vivian Nathan. She received the 1952 Theatre World Award for her performance as Anna Reeves in The Chase, and starred in such Broadway hits as Picnic (1953), playing Millie Owens and Bus Stop (1955), playing Cherie.
She was nominated for the 1959 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for A Touch of the Poet and the 1962 Tony for Best Actress in a Play for her portrayal of Elizabeth von Ritter in Henry Denker's A Far Country. Stanley also portrayed Maggie "The Cat" in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in the original London production of the play.
Stanley was a leading lady of live television drama, which flourished in New York City during the 1950s. Among her many starring roles was Wilma, a star-struck 15-year-old girl from the U.S. Gulf Coast of Texas in Horton Foote's A Young Lady of Property, which aired on The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse on April 5, 1953. She was in the London performance of "Masha" in an Actors Studio production of Anton Chekhov's play The Three Sisters
Her first film was The Goddess (1958), playing a tragic movie star. She starred in Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), winning both the National Board of Review Award for Best Actress and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
A filmed version of Strasberg-directed Three Sisters (1966) opened with Stanley reprising the role of Masha, and is the only time one can see her perform in a film alongside Geraldine Page, Sandy Dennis, Shelley Winters and other well-known names of the Actors Studio. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture for her performance as Frances Farmer's possessive mother in Frances (1982). She also played Pancho Barnes in The Right Stuff (1983). Stanley was the uncredited narrator in the drama film To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). As the narrator, she represents the character Jean Louise Finch ("Scout") as an adult. Mary Badham portrays Scout as a child in the film.
She received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for her appearance in the episode, "A Cardinal Act of Mercy" (1963), of the television series, Ben Casey (1961-1966), and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Special for her appearance in the 1984 television adaptation of Tennessee Williams's Southern melodrama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, this time as Big Mama.
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She was inducted into the New Mexico Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2012.
She had three children: one by Curt Conway; one by Brooks Clift (brother of Montgomery Clift), while she was married to Conway; and one by Alfred Ryder (Laurie). During her marriage to Ryder, Stanley converted to Judaism.
Stanley died of uterine cancer at a Santa Fe, New Mexico, nursing home at the age of 76. She was survived by her brother Justin, her three children, and several nephews and nieces. A biography, Female Brando: the Legend of Kim Stanley (2006), by Jon Krampner, was published by Back Stage Books, a division of Watson-Guptill.
Partial listing of stage work:
|Opening date||Closing date||Title||Role||Playwright||Theatre||Notes|
|Oct 29, 1949||Dec 24, 1949||Montserrat||Replacement for Julie Harris as Felisa||Lillian Hellman adaptation
original Emmanuel Roblès
|Jan 7, 1951||Jan 20, 1951||The House of Bernarda Alba||Adela||Federico García Lorca
Translation James Graham Lujan and Richard L. O'Connell
|Apr 15, 1952||May 10, 1952||The Chase||Anna Reeves||Horton Foote||Playhouse||1952 Theatre World Award for Kim Stanley|
|Feb 19, 1953||Apr 10, 1954||Picnic||Millie Owens||William Inge||Music Box|
|Oct 27, 1954||Nov 20, 1954||The Traveling Lady||Georgette Thomas||Horton Foote||Playhouse|
|Mar 2, 1955||Apr 21, 1956||Bus Stop||Cherie||William Inge||Music Box
|Jan 10, 1957||Feb 9, 1957||A Clearing in the Woods||Virginia||Arthur Laurents||Belasco|
|Oct 2, 1958||Jun 13, 1959||A Touch of the Poet||Sara Melody||Eugene O'Neill||Helen Hayes||Tony Award nomination, Best Actress|
|Oct 12, 1959||Nov 28, 1959||Chéri||Léa de Lonval||Anita Loos
|Apr 4, 1961||Nov 25, 1961||A Far Country||Elizabeth von Ritter||Henry Denker||Music Box||Tony Award nomination, Best Actress|
|Jan 31, 1963||Mar 02, 1963||Natural Affection||Sue Barker||William Inge||Booth|
|Jun 22, 1964||Oct 03, 1964||The Three Sisters||Masha||Anton Chekhov
Randall Jarrell English version
|1958||The Goddess||Emily Ann Faulkner|
|1962||To Kill a Mockingbird||Scout as an Adult - Narrator|
|1964||Séance on a Wet Afternoon||Myra Savage||Laurel Award for Top Dramatic Performance, Female (3rd place)
National Board of Review Award for Best Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Nominated-Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated-BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role;
|1966||The Three Sisters||Masha|
|1982||Frances||Lillian Farmer||Nominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated-Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
|1983||The Right Stuff||Pancho Barnes|
|1950||The Magnavox Theatre||Unknown||Father, Dear Father|
|1950||Cavalcade of Stars||Self||Episode #1.53|
|1950||Sure As Fate||Unknown||The Vanishing Lady|
|1950||The Trap||Unknown||Sentence of Death|
|1951||Out There||Unknown||The Bus to Nowhere|
|1953||You Are There||Cleopatra||The Death of Cleopatra (30 B.C.)|
|1953||You Are There||Joan of Arc||The Final Hours of Joan of Arc (May 30, 1431)|
|1953||The Gulf Playhouse||Unknown||The Tears of My Sister|
|1953||The Ed Sullivan Show||Self||Episode #6.36|
|1952||Goodyear Television Playhouse||Unknown||The Witness|
|1954||Goodyear Television Playhouse||Unknown||The Brownstone|
|1956||Goodyear Television Playhouse||Kay||Joey|
|1956||Goodyear Television Playhouse||Unknown||In the Days of Our Youth|
|1956||Goodyear Television Playhouse||Unknown||Conspiracy of Hearts|
|1953||The Philco Television Playhouse||Unknown||A Young Lady of Property|
|1953||The Philco Television Playhouse||Unknown||The Strong Women|
|1953||The Philco Television Playhouse||Unknown||The Sixth Sense|
|1954||The Philco Television Playhouse||Unknown||Somebody Special|
|1954||Armstrong Circle Theatre||Unknown||H Is for Hurricane|
|1954||Inner Sanctum Mystery||Maggie||The Hands|
|1954||Kraft Television Theatre||Unknown||The Scarlet Letter|
|1956||Kraft Television Theatre||Unknown||Death Is a Spanish Dancer|
|1957||Kraft Television Theatre||Unknown||The Glass Wall|
|1955||A.N.T.A. Album of 1955||Herself||Production of American National Theater and Academy|
|1955||Playwrights 56||Abby||The Waiting Place|
|1955||Playwrights 56||Martha Anderson||Flight|
|1955||The Elgin Hour||Lili||The Bridge|
|1957||Westinghouse Studio One||Georgette Thomas||The Traveling Lady|
|1957||Playhouse 90||Mae D'Amato||Clash by Night|
|1960||Playhouse 90||Sarah Eubanks||Tomorrow|
|1958||Armchair Theatre||Georgette Thomas||The Travelling Lady|
|1960||Armchair Theatre||Unknown||The Cake Baker|
|1960||DuPont Show of the Month||Sarah Anne Howe||Ethan Frome|
|1962||Westinghouse Presents: That's Where the Town Is Going||Wilma Sills||TV Movie|
|1963||Ben Casey||Faith Parsons||A Cardinal Act of Mercy:, Parts 1 and 2
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
|1964||The Eleventh Hour||Unknown||Does My Mother Have to Know?:, Parts 1 and 2|
|1968||Flesh and Blood||Della||TV movie|
|1969||U.M.C.||Joanna Hanson||TV Movie, Pilot for Medical Center|
|1970||NET Playhouse: Dragon Country||Unknown||TV Movie|
|1971||Night Gallery||Elizabeth Croft||A Fear of Spiders/Junior/Marmalade Wine/The Academy|
|1971||The Name of the Game||Veta Marie Goss||The Man Who Killed a Ghost|
|1982||It Takes Two||Mrs. Tandy||Death Penalty|
|1983||55th Academy Awards||Self|
|1983||Quincy, M.E.||Mrs. Edith Jordan||Beyond the Open Door|
|1984||Cat on a Hot Tin Roof||Big Mama||TV Movie||Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Special|
|2005||The Needs of Kim Stanley||Self||Documentary|