Felicia Montealegre

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Montealegre and Louis Jourdan in 1955.

Felicia Cohn Montealegre (6 February 1922 – 16 June 1978) was an American stage and television actress born in Costa Rica. From 1951 until her death, she was the wife of American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein.

Life and career[edit]

Cohn Montealegre was born in the community of Amón, Carmen district, San José, Costa Rica,[1] the daughter of Clemencia Montealegre Carazo, who was born in Costa Rica, and Roy Elwood Cohn, the American head of the American Smelting and Refining Company (not to be confused with Roy Cohn, the aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy).[2] She was raised Catholic, and later converted to Judaism, when marrying Leonard Bernstein (her own paternal grandfather had been Jewish).[3] She established herself in New York. She studied piano with Claudio Arrau and met composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein at a party Arrau gave in 1946. She and Bernstein were engaged to be married but this was broken off. Subsequently she had an affair lasting for several years with Broadway and Hollywood actor Richard Hart. After Hart's death, she married Bernstein in 1951. They had three children, Jamie, Alexander and Nina.

Montealegre's voice can be heard on two works conducted by Bernstein: his own Kaddish Symphony as well as a version of Debussy's Le martyre de Saint Sébastien, partially performed in English.

She also appeared in several television dramas, including a 1950 dramatization of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House on Kraft Television Theatre, in which she played Nora. Another appearance on television includes the 1949 CBS teleplay (part of the "Studio One" series) based on Somerset Maugham's novel Of Human Bondage, in which Montealegre played Mildred opposite Philip Carey of Charlton Heston.[4] Although Montealegre appeared on television, she made no feature films.

She starred in the 1976 Broadway play Poor Murderer.

Montealegre features prominently in Tom Wolfe's essay Radical Chic.

She died in East Hampton, New York in 1978, aged 56.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Clemencia Montealegre Carazo in entry for Felicia María Josefa de Jesús Cohn Montealegre. "Costa Rica Church Records, 1595-1992," index and images, FamilySearch. 3 Mar 1922. Retrieved 27 Aug 2012. 
  2. ^ Extraordinary women in support of music - Mona Mender - Google Books. Books.google.ca. Retrieved 2012-05-02. 
  3. ^ Leonard Bernstein: a life - Meryle Secrest - Google Books. Books.google.ca. Retrieved 2012-05-02. 
  4. ^ http://archive.org/details/StudioOneOfHumanBondage1949

External links[edit]