Barbara Baxley

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Barbara Baxley
Barbara Baxley Dick York Bus Stop (cropped).png
Baxley in a 1955 stage production of Bus Stop
Barbara Angie Rose Baxley

(1923-01-01)January 1, 1923
DiedJune 7, 1990(1990-06-07) (aged 67)
OccupationFilm, stage, television actress
Years active1943–1990

Barbara Angie Rose Baxley (January 1, 1923 – June 7, 1990) was an American actress and singer.

Early life[edit]

Barbara Baxley was born on January 1, 1923, in Porterville, California, the daughter of Emma (née Tyler) and Bert Baxley and sister to Helen Baxley.[citation needed] She acted for six years in productions of schools and Little Theaters before she had her first professional role.[1]


A life member of the Actors Studio,[2] Baxley also studied acting under the tutelage of Sanford Meisner at the prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater in New York City. Her first film was East of Eden, where she portrayed Adam Trask's obnoxious nurse at the end of the film.

In 1961, she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress (Dramatic) for her performance in the Broadway production of Tennessee Williams's comedy Period of Adjustment. She appeared in Chekhov's The Three Sisters and Neil Simon's Plaza Suite as well as the 1960s Broadway musical She Loves Me, which co-starred Jack Cassidy, Barbara Cook and Daniel Massey. She also starred in the 1976 Broadway play Best Friend.

Baxley appeared in supporting roles in many television series of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. She played a wife who had her rodeo performer husband, played by Lee Van Cleef, murdered in the crime drama series Richard Diamond, Private Detective, starring David Janssen. She appeared in a 1958 Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Gilded Lily", as Enid Griffin and she played the role of Cora Wheeler in the original Twilight Zone episode of "Mute".

Baxley played two different characters in two episodes of Have Gun – Will Travel, starring Richard Boone. She also played roles on Where the Heart Is and Another World, two daytime soap operas. She further played on an episode of The Fugitive as the one-armed man's girlfriend. She appeared in six episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

A memorable Baxley performance came in a 1973 episode of Hawaii Five-O entitled "One Big Happy Family". She portrayed the matriarch of a serial-killing Southern family.

She is perhaps better known for the role of Lady Pearl, the feisty wife of country music icon Haven Hamilton (Henry Gibson) in Robert Altman's film Nashville (1975) and as the mother of Sally Field's character in Norma Rae (1979).

Baxley was a close friend of musician Dave Brubeck and his wife; according to him, Baxley was more like a member of the family.[3] He later confirmed that Baxley was a liberal Democrat, an atheist, a woman who always put the needs and well being of others before her own self, and that when she died, he and his wife, Iola, not only handled her funeral arrangements but also buried her in the same cemetery next to their own plots so that they all could be together as one in death, same as in life, because their bond held such a strong connection.[3]


Baxley died at age 67 on June 7, 1990, at her home in Manhattan, New York, of an apparent heart attack.[4] She is buried at Umpawaug Cemetery in Redding, Connecticut.[5]


Year Title Role Notes
1955 East of Eden Nurse Uncredited
1958 The Badlanders Diane (scenes deleted)
1959 ( broadcast Nov.10th., US) Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond Miss. Lois Morrison 'Message from Clara', episode.
1960 The Savage Eye Judith McGuire
1962 All Fall Down Schoolteacher
1967 Countdown Jean
1968 No Way to Treat a Lady Belle Poppie
1972 Images Telephone Voice, uncredited
1975 Nashville Lady Pearl
1979 Butterflies in Heat
1979 Norma Rae Leona
1982 A Stranger Is Watching Lally
1989 Sea of Love Miss Allen
1990 A Shock to the System Lillian
1990 The Exorcist III Shirley (final film role)


  1. ^ Bodin, Walter (June 1, 1948). "Tallulah, Cast Acclaimed in Suave 'Private Lives'". Oakland Tribune. California, Oakland. p. 28. Retrieved August 12, 2018 – via open access
  2. ^ David Garfield (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of the Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of the Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co. Inc. p. 277. ISBN 0-02-542650-8.
  3. ^ a b Ted Pankins, An Interview with Dave Brubeck, July 23, 2007
  4. ^ "Barbara Baxley, 67, Who Acted In Theater, Movie and TV Roles", The New York Times, June 9, 1990.
  5. ^ Wilson, Scott (16 September 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. ISBN 9781476625997 – via Google Books.

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