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|Born||Madeleine Louise Hélène Thornton
November 13, 1922
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Spouse(s)||Robert Sherwood (1940-?) (divorced) 1 child|
Madeleine Sherwood (born November 13, 1922) is a Canadian actress of stage, film and television. She is widely known for her portrayals of Mae/Sister Woman and Miss Lucy in both the Broadway and film versions of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Sweet Bird of Youth. She starred or featured in 18 original Broadway productions including Arturo Ui, Do I Hear a Waltz? and Invitation to a March. However, she may be best remembered as Reverend Mother Placido to Sally Field's Sister Bertrille in The Flying Nun from 1967-1970.
Sherwood was born as Madeleine Louise Hélène Thornton in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the granddaughter of the Dean of Dentistry at McGill University. Sherwood made her first stage appearance at the age of four in a church passion play. She started her professional career in Montreal when Rupert Kaplan cast her in CBC dramas and soap operas.
Sherwood moved to New York City in 1950 and made her first Broadway appearance in Horton Foote's, The Chase, replacing Kim Stanley. In 1953 she originated the role of Abigail in Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible. Elia Kazan cast her as Mae, the horrible sister in law, in Tennessee Williams Cat On A Hot Tin Roof in 1954 and later in Sweet Bird of Youth as Miss Lucy. She reprised both her roles in the film versions. She became a member of the Actors Studio in 1957 working with Lee Strasberg and is now a life member of the Studio.
Sherwood was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. During the Civil Rights Movement she met and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the late 50’s and 60’s and went south to join CORE (Congress on Racial Equality). She was arrested during a Freedom Walk, jailed and sentenced to six months hard labor for "Endangering the Customs and Mores of the People of Alabama". Her lawyer, Fred Grey, was the first African-American lawyer to represent a white woman south of the Mason–Dixon Line. During this period, she lost most of her sense of hearing.
During the 1980s, she received a grant from A.F.I. as one of the first women to direct short films for the A.F.I. (along with Cicely Tyson, Joanne Woodward, and others). She wrote, directed and acted in her film, Good Night Sweet Prince, which received excellent notices.
In the 1970s, she met Gloria Steinem, Betty Dodson and other activists at the First Women’s Sexual Conference at Barnard College in New York City. From there she started consciousness raising groups and counseling workshops for Women and Incest.
In the early 1990s, she returned to Canada and resettled in Victoria, BC, and Saint-Hippolyte, Quebec. Although she was a longtime resident of the United States, she has remained a Canadian citizen all her life. She has one daughter, two grandchildren and six great-grand children. She is an active member of the Society of Friends (Quakers).
Sherwood appeared in many soap opera over the years, most notably on Guiding Light as Mrs. Eilers and The Secret Storm as diner owner Carmen. She had cameos on All My Children as a bag lady and Another World as a befuddled matron, returning to Guiding Light briefly as Roxie Shayne's madame, Diamond Lil. She was also featured in one of the final episodes of Capitol as the employement agency worker who helps Janis Paige get a job working for her son, Trey Clegg.
Original Broadway productions
- The Chase
- The Crucible
- Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
- Sweet Bird of Youth
- The Night of the Iguana (succeeded Bette Davis)
- Invitation To a March
- Arturo Ui
- Do I Hear a Waltz?
- Inadmissible Evidence
- All Over
Off-Broadway – original productions
- Getting Out
- Hey You, Light Man
- Brecht on Becket
- Older People (at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater)
Film & TV
- Danger (1 episode, 1953)
- You Are There (1 episode, 1955)
- Baby Doll (1956) (uncredited) Nurse
- Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) Mae Flynn Pollitt
- Way Out (series) (1 episode, 1961) Cora Tench
- Sweet Bird of Youth (1962) Miss Lucy
- The Fugitive (2 episodes, 1963 & 1964) guest star
- The Edge of Night (1964) Ann Kelly #1
- Hurry Sundown (1967) Eula Purcell
- The Flying Nun (1967–1970) Reverend Mother Superior Placido
- Pendulum (film) (1969) Mrs. Eileen Sanderson
- The Guiding Light (1970–1971) Betty Eiler
- The Manhunter (1972) Ma Bocock
- The Secret Storm (1972–1973) Carmen
- Wicked, Wicked (1973) Lenore Karadyne
- Columbo (1 episode, 1974) Miss Brady
- Rich Man, Poor Man Book II (1976) Mrs. Hunt
- The Changeling (1980) Mrs. Norman
- One Life to Live (1980) Bridget Leander
- Teachers (1984) Grace
- Hotel (1 episode, 1986)
- Nobody's Child (1986) Nurse Rhonda
- Dynasty (1 episode, 1987)
- Cagney & Lacey (1 episode, 1987)
- Madeleine Sherwood at the Internet Movie Database
- Madeleine Sherwood at the Internet Broadway Database
- Madeleine Sherwood at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Madeleine Sherwood at the University of Wisconsin's Actors Studio audio collection