Remembered especially for her work in film and television – such as her roles in Days of Wine and Roses and The Omen, or her portrayal of Jennie Churchill (Winston’s mother) – Lee Remick also had a career on the stage that included leading roles in serious drama and musical theater, with a starring role in Sondheim’s musical Anyone Can Whistle.
Born in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1935, Remick was educated in New York, receiving her early education at the Hewitt School and later studying at Barnard College and the Actors Studio. She trained as a ballet dancer for many years and at age seventeen made her Broadway debut in the short-lived comedy Be Your Age (1953). Her long association with television began in the 1950s, and her performance on a 1956 episode of Robert Montgomery Presents brought her to the attention of the director Elia Kazan, who hired her for a bit part in the movie Faces in the Crowd (1957). She continued to be broadcast across the United States in dramatic series such as Kraft Television Theatre and Playhouse 90, then landed a leading role in the movie The Long, Hot Summer (1958), based on Faulker’s The Hamlet. Playing alongside Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Orson Welles, and Angela Lansbury, Remick was among Hollywood heavyweights. A year later she starred as the flirtatious Laura Manion, playing opposite Jimmy Stewart and Ben Gazzara, in the courtroom drama Anatomy of a Murder, directed by Otto Preminger.
Remick played in a steady stream of movies throughout the 1960s, most notably in Days of Wine and Roses (1962), in which she starred as the wife of an alcoholic (played by Jack Lemmon) who herself descends into the depths of alcoholism. For her performance, Remick earned an Oscar® nomination. Also notable was her part as a temperance crusader in the western comedy The Hallelujah Trail (1965).
Remick returned to the Great White Way to star in the original cast of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Anyone Can Whistle (1964), playing opposite Harry Guardino and Angela Lansbury. She is featured prominently on the cast recording, a reminder of her overlooked talents as a singer and a performer in musical theater. She also starred as the seductress Lola in a television version of Damn Yankees (1967) and played in touring productions of Brigadoon and Annie Get Your Gun.
One of Remick’s greatest stage successes was her leading role in the drama Wait Until Dark (1966), in which she played a blind woman threatened by thugs who invade her apartment. For her performance Remick earned a Tony® nomination for Best Actress in a Play. She returned to musical theater in a 1986 concert version of Sondheim’s Follies that featured such Broadway royalty as Barbara Cook, George Hearn, Mandy Patinkin, Elaine Stritch, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green.
Remick’s later film credits include A Delicate Balance (1973), The Omen (1976), The Europeans (1979), and The Competition (1980). She also appeared in a number of TV mini-series, including QB VII (1974), Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill (1974), Ike (1979), and Around the World in 80 Days (1989).
Remick died of cancer at age 55 in 1991.