Joan Copeland in 2011
|Born||Joan Maxine Miller
June 1, 1922
New York City, New York, U.S.
Joan Copeland (born June 1, 1922) is an American actress and the younger sister of celebrated playwright Arthur Miller. She began her career during the mid-1940s, appearing in theatre in New York City, where, shortly thereafter, she would become one of the very first members admitted to the newly formed Actors Studio. She moved into television and film during the 1950s. while still maintaining an active stage career. She is best known for her performances in the 1977 Broadway revival of Pal Joey and her award winning performance in the 1981 play The American Clock. She has also played a number of prominent roles on various soap operas throughout her career, including Andrea Whiting on Search for Tomorrow and Gwendolyn Lord Abbott on One Life to Live.
Copeland was born Joan Maxine Miller to a middle-class Jewish family in New York City. Her father, Isidore, was a woman's clothes manufacturer and her mother, Augusta (née Barnett), was a schoolteacher and a housewife. She is the younger sister of the late playwright Arthur Miller, and was briefly sister-in-law to Marilyn Monroe. She was married to George J. Kupchik from 1946 until his death in 1989, an engineer, with whom she has one son, Eric.
Copeland began her career in the theatre, making her professional debut as Juliet in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1945. She made her Broadway debut as Nadine in the original 1948 production of Bessie Breuer's Sundown Beach. Since then she has maintained an active career in the theatre. Her other Broadway credits include Detective Story (1949), Not for Children (1951), Handful of Fire (1958), Tovarich (1963), Something More! (1964), The Price (1968), Coco (1969), Two By Two (1970), Checking Out (1976), 45 Seconds from Broadway (2002), Wit & Wisdom (2003) among others. Copeland was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for the 1977 production of Pal Joey and won a Drama Desk Award in 1981 for The American Clock.
Copeland has also worked extensively Off-Broadway in New York City. Notable credits include Desdemona in Othello at the Equity Library Theatre (1946), Betty Shapiro in The Grass is Always Greener at the Downtown National Theatre (1955), Melanie in Conversation Piece at the Barbizon-Plaza Theatre (1957), Mrs. Erlynne in Delightful Season at the Gramercy Arts Theatre (1960), Leonie Frothingham in End of Summer at the Manhattan Theatre Club (1974), Lillian Hellman in Are You Now or Have You Ever Been at the Promenade Theatre (1978), the title role in Candida at the Roundabout Theatre (1979), Tasha Blumberg in Isn't It Romantic at the Playwrights Horizons (1983), Mrs. Thompson in Hunting Cockroaches at the Manhattan Theatre Club (1987), Rose Brill in The Rose Quartet at the Circle Repertory Theatre (1991), Aida Gianelli in Over the River and Through the Woods at the John Houseman Theatre (1998), Nelly Fell in The Torchbearers at the Greenwich House Theatre (2000), and a part of a rotating cast in Wit & Wisdom at the Arclight Theatre (2003). She won an Obie Award in 1991 for her portrayal of Eva Adler in The American Plan at the Manhattan Theatre Club.
Copeland began working on television in the early 1950s as a guest actress on such shows as Suspense and The Web and the live telecast of O'Neill's play The Iceman Cometh in 1960. She has appeared on numerous soap operas. She portrayed Andrea Whiting (Joanne's daughter, Patti's malevolent former mother in-law) on Search for Tomorrow, twin sisters Maggie and Kay Logan on Love of Life, and roles on The Edge of Night, How to Survive a Marriage and As the World Turns. She also portrayed Gwendolyn Lord Abbott on One Life to Live from 1978–1979, and later returned to the series to play Selma Hanen in 1995. Between 1993-1997 she portrayed the recurring character of Judge Rebecca Stein on Law & Order. Her other television credits include guest appearances on Chicago Hope, ER, All in the Family, and Naked City to name just a few.
Copeland made her first film appearance as Alice Marie in The Goddess (1958). Her film career has been sporadic and her appearances have been almost exclusively in prominent secondary roles. Her film credits include Middle of the Night (1959), Roseland (1977), It's My Turn (1980), A Little Sex (1982), Happy New Year (1987), The Laser Man (1988), Her Alibi (1989), Jungle 2 Jungle (1997), The Peacemaker (1997), The Object of My Affection (1998), The Adventures of Sebastian Cole (1998), The Audrey Hepburn Story (2000), The Last Request (2006), and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009). She also voiced Tanana in Disney's Brother Bear (2003).
- Robert Lewis (1984, 1996). "Actors Studio, 1947". Slings and Arrows: Theater in My Life. New York: Applause Books. p. 183. ISBN 1-55783-244-7. "At the end of the summer, on Gadget's return from Hollywood, we settled the roster of actors for our two classes in what we called the Actors Studio - using the word 'studio' as we had when we named our workshop in the Group, the Group Theatre Studio. Kazan's people met twice a week and included, among others, Julie Harris, Jocelyn Brando, Cloris Leachman, James Whitmore, Joan Copeland, Steven Hill, Lou Gilbert, Rudy Bond, Anne Hegira, Peg Hillias, Lenka Peterson, Edward Binns, and Tom Avera."
- Schemering, Christopher. The Soap Opera Encyclopedia, September 1985, pg. 158-166, ISBN 0-345-32459-5 (1st edition)
- Joan Copeland at the Internet Movie Database
- Joan Copeland at the Internet Broadway Database
- Joan Copeland at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Joan Copeland at the University of Wisconsin's Actors Studio audio collection
- Times Square Online - Joan Copeland, talented sister of Arthur Miller has a lot to say at age 89 - interview by Sandi Durell, video by Magda Katz, posted August 20, 2011