August 13, 1947 |
Camp Sherman, Oregon, U.S.
|Known for||The Rockford Files
Let's Scare Jessica to Death
Early Life in Oregon
Corbett was born in 1947 in Camp Sherman, Oregon, the great-great-granddaughter of Oregon pioneer and Senator Henry W. Corbett. She studied drama at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Tech just before its merger into Carnegie Mellon University in 1967. Her pursuit of a serious acting career first brought her to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. She moved to New York and enjoyed a successful career on stage, with many roles on and off Broadway.
Some highlights include Broadway's After the Rain with Alec McCowen, Forty Carats with Julie Harris directed by Abe Burrows, Shakespeare's Henry VI at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Shaw's Arms and the Man at The Sheridan Square, Iphigeneia at Aulis with Irene Papas at Circle in the Square, The Government Inspector with David Dukes and John Glover at The Phoenix Theatre, and The Survival of St. Joan, at the Anderson. She worked in many regional theatres, including the Long Wharf Theatre, the Berkshire Theatre Festival, the Eugene O'Neill Festival, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and the Repertory Theatre of New Orleans.
Film and television
One of Corbett's first television roles was on ABC's short-lived police detective show, N.Y.P.D., in 1968. In an episode called The Case of the Shady Lady, Corbett played a dancer who tries to make her husband's suicide into a murder for the insurance money. She had a supporting role in the film Out of It with Jon Voight, and a role as a mute in the 1971 cult film Let's Scare Jessica to Death.
In 1973, Corbett moved to Los Angeles under contract to Universal Studios, as one of the last "contract players" of the studio contract system. Her first role under contract was an episode of the detective series Kojak: Conspiracy of Fear (1973), and roles followed on Wonder Woman, Emergency!, Barnaby Jones, Hawaii Five-O, Columbo: An Exercise in Fatality (1974), Gunsmoke, McMillan & Wife, Barbary Coast, Banacek, Family, Otherworld, Murder, She Wrote (1986) episode "Deadline for Murder", Cheers and Magnum, P.I. (1981) The Curse of the King Kamehameha Club, (1983) episode "The Look".
She starred in The Savage Bees (1976) with Ben Johnson and in The Jaws of Satan (1981) with Fritz Weaver and a very young Christina Applegate. She also starred in NBC's television film version of The Cay with James Earl Jones and in NBC's Farewell to Manzanar. In 1978, she appeared in The Other Side of the Mountain with Marilyn Hassett. She later appeared as a regular in a number of television series, including a recurring role on the hugely popular medical drama Marcus Welby, M.D., the short lived sci-fi fantasy drama Otherworld on CBS, NBC's detective drama Ellery Queen, and the popular soap opera Love Is a Many Splendored Thing.
The Rockford Files
In 1974 Corbett joined the cast NBC's The Rockford Files where she played Beth Davenport, the beleaguered lawyer and sometimes lover of series lead Jim Rockford, a private investigator portrayed by James Garner. Corbett left the series at the end of the fourth season over a salary dispute, though Corbett herself was not looking for more money. The dispute was between the show's producers and Universal, who owned Corbett's contract as a contract player. Corbett went on to do more TV work, eventually returning to play Davenport again in the Rockford Files TV movies of the 1990s.
The Haven Project
In the 2000s she has served as Artistic Director of the Haven Project, a theatre project for underprivileged children in Portland, Oregon which is a replication of New York's 52nd St. Project. Her daughter Winslow Corbett is also an actress, having toured as Elaine Robinson in stage versions of The Graduate, among many other roles.
- "Gretchen Corbett". The New York Times.
- The Oregonian, Friday, February 2, 2001, obituary of Katherine C. 'Kay' Corbett
- Greenspun, Roger (August 28, 1971). "Let s Scare Jessica to Death (1971) Screen: Hippie Vampire:' Let's Scare Jessica to Death' Arrives". The New York Times.