Susan Tyrrell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Susan Tyrrell
Susan Tyrrell 1970.jpg
Studio publicity photo
Born Susan Jillian Creamer
(1945-03-18)March 18, 1945
San Francisco, California, USA
Died June 16, 2012(2012-06-16) (aged 67)
Austin, Texas, USA
Cause of death
Essential thrombocythaemia
Resting place
Nationality American
Occupation Actress
Years active 1964–2012
Notable work(s) Andy Warhol's Bad, Cry-Baby, Fat City, Forbidden Zone, Tales of Ordinary Madness
Parents Gillian Tyrrell
John Belding Creamer
Facebook Susan Tyrrell

Susan Tyrrell (born Susan Jillian Creamer; March 18, 1945 – June 16, 2012),[1] was an American actress who appeared in dozens of film, stage and television productions; her career spanned forty years until her death in 2012. Her performance as Oma in John Huston's Fat City (1972), garnered her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 1978, she took home the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Andy Warhol's Bad (1977). From a list of nearly 80 film and television credits; her work includes: Forbidden Zone (1980), Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981), Night Warning (1982), Angel (1984) and its sequel Avenging Angel (1985), and Cry-Baby (1990).

Early life[edit]

Susan Tyrrell was born in San Francisco, California, to John Belding Creamer and Gillian Tyrrell Creamer. Gillian had been in the Diplomatic Corps in China and the Philippines in the 1930s and 1940s; John was an agent at one time with the William Morris Agency for Leo Carrillo, Loretta Young, Ed Wynn and Carole Lombard.[2] Tyrrell was raised in New Canaan, Connecticut; she rebelled against the expectations demanded from her mother, earned poor grades in class and was often kicked out of school. Once a teenager, Tyrrell estranged herself from her mother.[3] Through her father, she landed her first performance: starring opposite Art Carney in the New York City theatrical production of Time Out for Ginger (1963).[4][5] Later he persuaded Look magazine to follow her as she traveled with the show. From effects of a bee sting, he died shortly after.[3] Tyrrell made her stage debut in 1965 as a replacement in the comedy Cactus Flower.[3] As a member of the Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center she was in the ensemble of a 1968 production of King Lear; and revivals of The Time of Your Life (1969), and Camino Real (1970). Off Broadway, she landed parts in the 1967 premiere of Lanford Wilson's The Rimers of Eldritch and a 1979 staging of Father's Day at The American Place Theatre.[3]

From then-on, Tyrrell was often typecast as a whore, lush, or sexpot.[3] She made her acting debut in front of the camera in the dramatic TV series Mr. Novak (1964); she played a student accused of murdering her parents.

The 1970s[edit]

After her film debut in Shoot Out (1971), her performance as Oma in John Huston's Fat City brought her a 1972 Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She revealed in a 2000 interview how the 66-year-old director had prepared her for the role by taking her on a drink-fuelled tour of northern California, during which he took full advantage of the opportunities offered by the casting couch:

"I can't describe to you how horrible it was. Goddamn bastard. I still hate him."[6]

Although Tyrrell landed an Academy Award-nominated role, it appeared that finding work was problematic:

"It was hell, I couldn't even get a job as a bad lady. I went up for bad lady parts and they’d say you're too beautiful now. We thought you were a bad lady from Fat City. Then I’d go up for beautiful parts and they’d say, You’re not beautiful enough."[7]

Tyrrell's next role was as Emilia in Patrick McGoohan's Catch My Soul (1974); a loosely based film interpretation of Shakespeare's Othello. Other roles include a local woman in Jan Troell's Zandy's Bride (1974); a sadomasochist prostitute in Burt Kennedy's The Killer Inside Me (1976), a film adaptation of Jim Thompson's 1952 novel of the same name. In 1977, Tyrell landed the role of Lil, a warmhearted prostitute in Franklin J. Schaffner's Islands in the Stream, an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's 1970 novel; the same year she appeared in Andy Warhol's Bad; Tyrrell's performance in the film won her the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress[8] Her next roles were as an institutionalized woman in Anthony Page's I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977), a film based on the Joanne Greenberg novel of the same name; Lisa Blount's character's scandalous and far from proper mother in James Bridges's September 30, 1955 (1977); and a local school teacher in Claude Lelouch's Another Man, Another Chance (1977).

The 1980s[edit]

At the beginning of the decade, Tyrell played the lewd Queen Doris in Richard Elfman's low-budget indie film Forbidden Zone (1980); she also served as a composer, credited with the song "Witch's Egg". The film's soundtrack was primarily composed by Elfman's younger brother Danny Elfman and his band Oingo Boingo. Other roles that followed include an incarcerated woman in the made-for-television film Willow B: Women in Prison (1980); a police officer's drug-addicted wife in Subway Riders (1981); and the overly-provocative and offensive Vera in Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981). From 1981 to 1982, Tyrell starred as an eccentric wife in ABC's short-lived situation comedy TV series Open All Night. Soon after, Tyrrell played a woman harboring incestuous fantasies towards her nephew in the exploitation horror film Night Warning (1982); and the madam of a local house of prostitution in the dramatic prison film Fast-Walking (1982).

In 1985, Tyrrell played Solly, a tough, foul-mouthed lesbian, in the sexploitation film Angel and it's sequel Avenging Angel. In the first film she sparred with co-star Dick Shawn over a game of cribbage, and in the sequel, Solly acted as den-mother to a group of transvestite prostitutes and raised an abandoned baby. Followed were the roles of a prostitute carrying a child in Paul Verhoeven's adventure film Flesh+Blood; a reporter in the Vincent Price-anthology horror film From a Whisper to a Scream (1985); and an extremely small wife to a circus owner in Big Top Pee-wee, the sequel to Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985).

The 1990s[edit]

Tyrrell's next roles were as the title character's grandmother in John Waters's Cry-Baby (1990); a lesbian vampire biker in Tales from the Crypt - Episode: "Comes the Dawn" (1995); the voice of the disease-spreading ghost Achira in the two-part opening of Extreme Ghostbusters (1997); a hunted mayor of a futuristic city in the direct-to-video film The Demolitionist (1995); a mother of a lesbian daughter in the Ensemble film Relax...It's Just Sex (1998), and a nauseating, alcoholic mother in the psychological thriller film Buddy Boy (1999).

The 2000s[edit]

Recent roles include a fortune teller in Bob Dylan's Masked and Anonymous (2003) and a High Priestess in The Devil's Due at Midnight (2004); Her last role was as a woman trapped in a hole in the woods in Nathan and David Zellner's Kid-Thing.

Personal life[edit]

In early 2000, she suffered the loss of both legs as a result of blood clots due to the rare blood disease essential thrombocythemia.[9] In 2008, she move to Austin, Texas. [1] Tyrrell moved to Austin in order to be closer to her niece Amy Sweet; she died Saturday, June 16, 2012.[1] According to Sweet, Tyrrell would often write in a journal and an entry from January noted the line: "I demand my death be joyful and I never return again."[10] Her body was eventually cremated.[11]



Year Title Role Notes
1972 Fat City Oma See awards section
1974 Catch My Soul Emilia
Zandy's Bride Maria Cordova
1976 The Killer Inside Me Joyce Lakeland
1977 Islands in the Stream Lil
Andy Warhol's Bad Mary Aiken See awards section
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden Lee
September 30, 1955 Melba Lou
Another Man, Another Chance Alice
1980 The Forbidden Zone Queen Doris of the Sixth Dimension
1981 Subway Riders Eleanor Langley
Tales of Ordinary Madness Vera
Open All Night (TV series) Gretchen Feester
1982 Night Warning Aunt Cheryl
Fast-Walking Evie
1984 Angel Solly
1985 Avenging Angel Solly
Flesh+Blood Celine
1987 From a Whisper to a Scream Beth
1988 Big Top Pee-Wee Midge Montana
1990 Cry-Baby Ramona
1995 The Demolitionist Mayor Eleanor Grimbaum Direct-to-video
1999 Buddy Boy Sal
2003 Masked and Anonymous Ella
2012 The Devil's Due at Midnight High Priestess
Kid-Thing Esther


Year Title Role Notes
1964 Mr. Novak (TV series) Phyllis Freuchen Episode: "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"
1995 Tales from the Crypt (TV series) Mona Episode: "Comes the Dawn"
1997 Extreme Ghostbusters (animated TV series) Achira (voice) Episodes: "Darkness at Noon, Part 1", "Darkness at Noon, Part 2"

Source:"Susan Tyrrell". IMDB. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Work Award Category Result
1973 Fat City NSFC Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Fat City NYFCC Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Fat City Academy Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
1978 Andy Warhol's Bad Saturn Award Best Supporting Actress Won

Source:"Susan Tyrrell". IMDB. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 


  1. ^ a b c Odam, Matthew. "Actress Susan Tyrell Dies at 67". Austin Movie Blog. Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  2. ^ "Susan Tyrrell - Biography - IMDb". Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Simonson, Robert (19 Jun 2012). "Susan Tyrrell, Eccentric Presence of Stage and Film, Dies at 67". Playbill. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  4. ^ Adams Sloan, Robin (Oct 2, 1972). "Susan Tyrrell, Electric Actress". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  5. ^ McLellan, Dennis (June 20, 2012). "Susan Tyrrell dies at 67; actress an Oscar nominee for 'Fat City'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Susan Tyrrell". The Daily Telegraph (London). August 31, 2012. 
  7. ^ Musto, Michael (June 19, 2012). "Susan Tyrrell: "I Don't Like Watching My Tits Fall"". The Village Voice. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  8. ^ "S". Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  9. ^ Paul Cullum (November 1, 2000). "My So-Called Rotten Life Susan Tyrrell's sentimental journey through money, fame, sex and amputation". LA Weekly. 
  10. ^ Stengle, Jamie (June 19, 2012). "Susan Tyrrell Dead: Oscar Nominated Actress Dies at 67". Huffpost Celebrity. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  11. ^ "Susan Tyrrell". Retrieved 19 May 2014. 

External links[edit]