Prinz in 1970.
January 4, 1930 |
Manhattan, New York City, United States
Early life and theatre
Prinz was born in Manhattan. Her father, Milton Prinz, was a talented cellist (many years later Prinz taped How to Survive a Marriage in the same studio where her father had performed with Arturo Toscanini) and Prinz herself spent her early years in the theater. After graduating from high school at age sixteen, she made her summer stock debut in a 1947 production of Dream Girls.
In 1952 she made her Broadway debut as a girl scout in The Grey-Eyed People and returned to Broadway in 1978 for a production of Tribute with Jack Lemmon. Prinz has continued to work in all forms of theater, including in recent years, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Master Class, Mame, and Annie Get Your Gun, and a 2003 New York appearance in Killing Louise; she played the role of M'lynn in the original production of Steel Magnolias (1987–89).
Television soap opera
Prinz made her television debut in the short-lived 1954 daytime drama First Love, as the wife of aviator Chris (Frankie Thomas). Her most famous role to date has been her portrayal of Penny Hughes on As the World Turns, a role she played from 1956 to 1968. Penny had a number of stories but her most popular story was her tortured relationship with Jeff Baker (Mark Rydell). They were daytime's first teen romance and first supercouple, breaking up and reuniting many times; when they finally married for good and planned to adopt a child, Jeff was killed in a car crash. Viewers were outraged; TV Guide called it "the auto accident that shook the nation".
Over the years, rumors surfaced that Prinz had been pushed to many nervous breakdowns due to the constant criticisms that she endured from show creator Irna Phillips. When she left the show in 1968, Prinz said she would never return to soap operas again. However, she was lured back, but only for a limited engagement each time. Her first return was to play the role of Amy Tyler on All My Children for six months in 1970. Agnes Nixon, who had written for Prinz on ATWT, felt Prinz would be crucial in helping to launch the new series. Prinz agreed, on the condition that her character oppose the Vietnam War, which Prinz herself opposed, and on the condition that she be given above-the-title billing. Prinz was the only AMC performer to date to receive that honor. Prinz was also, until 1990, the only AMC actor to have her photo in the opening credits.
This role was followed by a short-lived turn as the lead character, Dr. Julie Franklin, in How to Survive a Marriage in 1974. In 1988, she became the last actress to play Sister Mary Joel on Ryan's Hope.
She made several returns to ATWT, during events that focused on Penny's family. She returned in 1985 for Bob and Kim's wedding and in 1986 to celebrate her parents' fiftieth wedding anniversary. She returned to ATWT again in 1998 so Penny could attend her mother's eightieth birthday party (during which she uttered the memorable line, "who are all these people?", when a series of new characters interrupted the party), and in 2000 to visit her family for Christmas. However, Prinz (and Penny) were not part of the show's finale in 2010, or part of the funeral for show matriarch Nancy Hughes, Penny's mother.
In the late 1970s Prinz began to make rare prime-time television appearances, including a recurring role on Knots Landing from 1981–1982 as Sylvia Warren, who was convinced her husband was having an affair with Laura Avery (Constance McCashin).
In 2000 at the age of seventy, Prinz made her movie debut in the low-budget The Bread, My Sweet, which starred Scott Baio. Until that time the closest she had come to moviemaking was a 1948 film for the Navy, It Could Happen to Your Sister, in which she played a young woman who contracted an STD. In 2004 she completed a short film, Extreme Mom.
Prinz was married to actor Michael Thoma from 1951–1957 (Thoma died in 1982 at the age of 55), and has been married to jazz drummer Joseph Patti since 1967.
At one time, she was the highest paid soap actress in America. A 1970 New York Times article states that she received $750 per episode for the years 1963-1968 on As the World Turns. NBC Vice-President Lin Bolen lured Prinz to How to Survive a Marriage for $3000 a week, with the stipulation that Prinz only had to work three days out of five each week. Again, it was an unprecedented sum for a soap actress to earn at that time.
- "Rosemary Prinz Biography". Film reference. Retrieved 2013-04-23.
- Vincent Terrace (1985). Encyclopedia of Television: Series, Pilots and Specials. New York Zoetrope. ISBN 978-0918432612.
- Martha Nochimson (1993). No End to Her: Soap Opera and the Female Subject. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520077713.
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