Lee Grant

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For other people named Lee Grant, see Lee Grant (disambiguation).
Lee Grant
Lee Grant Fay 1975.jpg
Grant in 1975
Born Lyova Haskell Rosenthal
New York, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress and director
Years active 1949–2007, 2013
Spouse(s) Arnold Manoff (1951-1960; divorced; 2 children)
Joseph Feury (né Fioretti; 1962-present)
Children Dinah Manoff and Tom Manoff

Lee Grant is a celebrated American stage, film and television actress, and film director. From 1952 through 1964 she was blacklisted from radio, film, and most television work, but continued working sporadically in the theatre during this time. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Felicia Karpf in Shampoo (1975). At the age of 25 she won the Best Actress Award at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival for her role as the shoplifter in the 1951 film version of Detective Story.[1] She won the 1964 Obie Award for Distinguished Performance by an Actress for her performance as Solange in Jean Genet's The Maids. She has been nominated for the Emmy Award seven times between 1966 through 1993, winning twice. As a documentary film maker, she received the 1986 Directors Guild of America Award, as well as the 1986 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Early life[edit]

Lee Grant was born Lyova Haskell Rosenthal on October 31 in Manhattan, the only child of Witia (née Haskell), an actress and teacher, and Abraham W. Rosenthal, a realtor and educator. Her father was born in New York, to Polish Jewish immigrants, and her mother was a Russian Jewish immigrant.[2] The family resided at 706 Riverside Drive in the Hamilton Heights area of Manhattan.[3] Her year of birth has been disputed, with sourcing citing 1925,[4][5] 1926,[6] 1927[7] and 1929.[8] Robert Vaughn's Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting states that during her testimony, when she was questioned about her birth date, Grant had answered 1926.[9] However, both the 1930 and 1940 censuses both indicate 1925. [4]

She debuted in a show at the Metropolitan Opera, and later joined the American Ballet as an adolescent.[10] She attended Art Students League of New York, Juilliard School of Music, The High School of Music & Art, and George Washington High School, all in New York City. Grant graduated from high school at the age of fourteen, receiving a scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, and studied under Sanford Meisner. She subsequently enrolled in Actors Studio in New York.


Grant established herself as a dramatic method actress on and off Broadway, earning praise for her role as a shoplifter in Detective Story, in 1949. [11] She made her film debut two years later in the film version (Detective Story), receiving her first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination, and winning the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival.[12] She was a regular on the CBS soap opera, Search for Tomorrow in the early 1950s.[1]

In 1951 she gave an impassioned eulogy at the memorial service for actor J. Edward Bromberg, whose early death, she implied, was caused by the stress of being called before House Committee on Un-American Activities. After her eulogy was published, she was summoned by the same committee to testify against her husband, playwright Arnold Manoff, but refused. As a result, for the next twelve years, from the age of 24 to 36, her "prime years,"[13] she was blacklisted and unable to work in either television or movies. Composer Burt Bacharach, calling Grant "a brilliant actress," says that "she suffered for her political beliefs for a long time because that was such a terrible period in the history of our country."[14]

By the time Grant's name was finally removed from the blacklist in the early 1960s, she had since been divorced, remarried, and now had a young daughter, Dinah. Grant immediately tried to reestablish her television and movie career. In her autobiography, she writes:

Dinah was my grail, my constant; nothing and no one could get between us. Dinah and my need to support her financially, morally, viscerally, and my rage at those who had taken twelve working, acting years from my life, were what motivated me.[15]

Grant's first major achievement, after House Committee on Un-American Activities officially cleared her, was in the 1960s television series Peyton Place, as Stella Chernak, for which she won an Emmy in 1966. In 1967, Grant appeared in an episode of Mission Impossible, portraying the wife of a U.S. diplomat who goes undercover to discredit a rogue diplomat. That same year she played the distraught widow of the murder victim in the Oscar-winning In the Heat of the Night.[1]

Grant in 1961

She received subsequent Academy Award nominations for the dramas The Landlord (1970) and Voyage of the Damned (1976). Her acting range extended into comedy equally well, notably in several roles as an overbearing mother. In Plaza Suite (1971), a comedy directed by Arthur Hiller and written by Neil Simon, she played the harassed mother of a bride, with Walter Matthau as the father. The film was followed by another comedy role as the mother in Portnoy's Complaint (1972).[1]

She won an Oscar for the comedy Shampoo (1975), for Best Supporting Actress. The film received mixed reviews but was considered "Columbia's biggest hit in the studio's 50 year history."[16] Actor Bruce Dern, who played alongside her in The Big Town (1987), recalls working with her: "Lee Grant is a fabulous actress. Anytime she works it's a blessing you have her in your movie."[17]

Grant is the only Hollywood actress of her generation to successfully move into directing. She directed the stage play, The Stronger in 1976, written by August Strindberg. In 1980 she directed her first film, Tell Me a Riddle, a story about an aging Jewish couple. She also directed several documentary films, including Down and Out in America (1986) which won the Academy Award for Documentary Feature. That same year she directed Nobody's Child, a TV movie starring Marlo Thomas about a woman confined to a mental institution for 20 years. For her direction, Grant became the first female director to win the Directors Guild of America Award.[citation needed]

Grant at the premiere of F.I.S.T. (April 1978)

In recent years she directed a series of Intimate Portrait episodes for Lifetime Television, that celebrated a diverse range of accomplished women.[1] Admiring her directing and acting skill, actress Sissy Spacek agreed to act in Hard Promises "only to work with Grant", although she [clarification needed]was later replaced as its director.[18]

In March 1971, Grant appeared in the Columbo episode "Ransom for a Dead Man"', and was nominated for an Emmy as Outstanding Lead Actress - Miniseries or a Movie. Having been nominated for two performances in the same acting category, she received the award for her other Emmy-nominated performance in the television film, The Neon Ceiling. The only other nominee was Colleen Dewhurst; in Grant's acceptance speech, she wryly noted "I must thank Colleen Dewhurst since it takes two of me to equal one of her."[citation needed]

During the 1975-76 television season, she starred in the NBC sitcom Fay, which, to her chagrin, was canceled after eight episodes. She made a guest appearance on Empty Nest, in which her daughter Dinah Manoff co-starred. In 1988, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.[19]

In 1992, she played Dora Cohn, the mother of Roy Cohn, in the biographical made for TV film Citizen Cohn, which garnered her yet another Primetime Emmy Award nomination. In 2001, Lee Grant portrayed Louise Bonner in David Lynch's critically acclaimed Mullholland Drive. From 2004-07, Carlin Glynn, Stephen Lang, and Grant served as co-artistic directors for the Actors Studio.

In 2013, she returned to the stage, after a nearly 40-year-absence, to star in The Gin Game, part of a benefit for improvement programs at the Island Music Guild. Grant played Fonsia Dorsey opposite Frank Buxton as Weller Martin; her daughter Dinah Manoff directed the production.[20]



Year Film Role Notes
1951 Detective Story Shoplifter Best Actress Award (Cannes Film Festival)
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1953-1954 Search for Tomorrow Rose Peabody
1955 Storm Fear Edna Rogers
1959 Middle of the Night Marilyn
The Blue Angel uncredited
1963 The Balcony Carmen
An Affair of the Skin Katherine McCleod
1964 Pie in the Sky Suzy
The Fugitive Millie Hallop episode-"Taps for a Dead War"
1965 -
Peyton Place Stella Chernak appeared in 71 episodes (8/19/1965–3/28/1966)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Drama
1967 Divorce American Style Dede Murphy
In the Heat of the Night Mrs. Leslie Colbert Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Valley of the Dolls Miriam
The Big Valley Rosie Williams
1968 Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell Fritzie Braddock
Judd, for the Defense Kay Gould Nominated-Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
1969 The Big Bounce Joanne
Marooned Celia Pruett
1970 The Landlord Joyce Enders Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated- Laurel Award for Best Supporting Performance, Female
There Was a Crooked Man... Mrs. Bullard
1971 Columbo: Ransom for a Dead Man Leslie Williams Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
The Neon Ceiling Carrie Miller Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
The Last Generation archive footage
Plaza Suite Norma Hubley
1972 Portnoy's Complaint Sophie Portnoy
1974 The Internecine Project Jean Robertson
1975 Shampoo Felicia Karpf Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Fay (TV series) Fay Stewart Nominated-Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
1976 Voyage of the Damned Lillian Rosen Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1977 Airport '77 Karen Wallace
The Spell Marilyn Matchett
1978 Damien: Omen II Ann Thorn
The Swarm Anne MacGregor
The Mafu Cage Ellen
1979 When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? Clarisse Ethridge
1980 Little Miss Marker The Judge
1981 Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen Mrs. Lupowitz
1982 Visiting Hours Deborah Ballin
1984 Billions for Boris Sascha Harris
Constance Mrs. Barr
Teachers Dr. Donna Burke
1985 Sanford Meisner: The American Theatre's Best Kept Secret Herself documentary
1987 The Big Town Ferguson Edwards
1991 Defending Your Life Lena Foster
1992 Something to Live for: The Alison Gertz Story Carol Gertz TV film
Earth and the American Dream Narrator documentary
Citizen Cohn Dora Marcus Cohn Nominated-Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1996 It's My Party Amalia Stark
The Substance of Fire Cora Cahn
Under Heat Jane
2000 Dr. T & the Women Dr. Harper
The Amati Girls Aunt Spendora
2001 Mulholland Drive Louise Bonner
2005 The Needs of Kim Stanley Herself documentary
Going Shopping Winnie


Year Production Notes
1975 For the Use of the Hall TV film
1976 The Stronger short subject
1980 Tell Me a Riddle
1981 The Willmar 8 documentary
1984 A Matter of Sex TV film
1985 What Sex Am I? documentary
ABC Afterschool Special Cindy Eller: A Modern Fairy Tale (TV episode)
1986 Nobody's Child TV film - DGA Award
Down and Out in America documentary (also narrator)
1989 Staying Together
No Place Like Home TV film
1994 When Women Kill documentary
Seasons of the Heart TV film
Following Her Heart TV film
Reunion TV film
1997 Say It, Fight It, Cure It TV film
1999 Confronting the Crisis: Childcare in America TV film
2000 American Masters Sidney Poitier: One Bright Light
The Loretta Claiborne Story TV film
2001 The Gun Deadlock TV dilm
2004 Biography Melanie Griffith
2000–2004 Intimate Portrait 43 episodes
2005 ... A Father... A Son... Once Upon a Time in Hollywood TV film


  1. ^ a b c d e Lee Grant at the Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ Profile, forward.com; accessed September 9, 2014.
  3. ^ Lee Grant profile at FilmReference.com; accessed September 9, 2014.
  4. ^ a b 1930 and 1940 U.S. censuses at Ancestry.com both indicate Grant was born in 1925. The 1930 census (Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1577; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 1027; Image: 588.0; FHL microfilm: 2341312. Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls) gives her age as 4 and 6/12 months in April 1930 (i.e. 4 ½ years old). The 1940 census (Source Citation: Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2671; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 31-1922. Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. 2012. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls) gives her age as 14 in April 1940. NOTE: the census always requests the age of the individual being enumerated as of his or her last birthday. NOTE also that the first name is given as "Lyniva" in 1930 and "Lyoua" in 1940.
  5. ^ Personal details for Lee Grant Manoff, familysearch.org; accessed September 9, 2014.
  6. ^ Year of birth, familysearch.org; accessed September 9, 2014.
  7. ^ Bethanne Patrick (July 7, 2014). "Lee Grant on aging, relationships, and plastic surgery in her 20s". New York Post. Retrieved 2014. 
  8. ^ Hellmann, Paul T. (2006). Historical Gazetteer of the United States. Routledge. p. 779. Retrieved 2014. 
  9. ^ Vaughn, Robert (1972). Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 227. Retrieved 2014. 
  10. ^ Gray, Spalding. Life Interrupted: The Unfinished Monologue, Random House (2005) p. 154
  11. ^ Lee Grant at the Internet Broadway Database
  12. ^ Best Actress Award (Cannes Film Festival)
  13. ^ "Lee Grant on life beyond the Hollywood blacklist", CBS "Sunday Morning", August 3, 2014.
  14. ^ Bacharach, Burt. Anyone Who Had a Heart: My Life and Music, HarperCollins (2013)
  15. ^ Grant, Lee. I Said Yes to Everything: A Memoir, Penguin (2014)
  16. ^ Ford, Elizabeth. The Makeover in Movies: Before and After in Hollywood Films, 1941-2002, McFarland (2004) p. 198
  17. ^ Dern, Bruce. Things I've Said, But Probably Shouldn't Have: An Unrepentant Memoir, Wiley (2007) p. 231
  18. ^ Jarboe, Jan. "Sissy Spacek's Long Walk Home", Texas Monthly, February 1991, p. 126.
  19. ^ Profile Women in Film website; accessed September 9, 2014.
  20. ^ Michael C. Moore (August 12, 2013). "Theater: High-powered cast deals this 'Gin Game'". Kitsap A&E. Retrieved September 9, 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

Grant, Lee (2014). I Said Yes to Everything: A Memoir. Blue Rider Press. p. 466. ASIN B00G3L7WOM. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Estelle Parsons
Vacant (2003-2004)
Artistic Director of the Actors Studio
With: Carlin Glynn
and Stephen Lang


Succeeded by
Ellen Burstyn