Grayson Hall

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Grayson Hall
Born Shirley H. Grossman
(1922-09-18)September 18, 1922[1][2]
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died August 7, 1985(1985-08-07) (aged 62)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Cause of death Lung cancer
Resting place Cremation
Other names Shirley Grayson
Occupation Actress
Years active 1950s-85
Height 5'6"
Spouse(s) Bradbart "Ted" Brooks (m. 1946–49) (divorced)
Sam Hall (m. 1952–85) (her death); 1 child
Children Matthew Hall

Grayson Hall (September 18, 1922 – August 7, 1985) was an American television, film and stage actress. She was widely regarded for her avant-garde theatrical performances from the 1960s to the 1980s. Hall was nominated in 1964 for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for the John Huston film The Night of the Iguana. She also played multiple prominent roles in the Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows (1966–71), and appeared on One Life to Live (1982-83).

Early life[edit]

Hall was born Shirley H. Grossman in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1922,[3] the only child of Eleanor and Joseph Grossman. Her father was from Latvia and her mother, who had acted in the Yiddish theatre, was from South Africa. Both were from Jewish immigrant families.[2]

When Hall was eight, her parents separated but never divorced. Hall became interested in acting, as an escape from a painful childhood, and auditioned for plays in New York City while she was still attending Simon Gratz High School. She enrolled at Temple University but did not matriculate. She landed her first professional job doing summer stock in Long Island in 1942. In 1946, she married fellow actor Bradbart "Ted" Brooks in Los Angeles, California. They separated in 1949 and she returned to New York. In 1952, she married writer Sam Hall. Their son, Matthew, was born in 1958. She had always used the stage name Shirley Grayson, but Sam Hall called her Grayson, "like an old Army buddy", she said in an interview. She eventually adopted Grayson Hall as her professional name.[2]


Having guest starred on various television programs during the mid-1950s, Hall made her film debut in 1961 in Run Across the River. Hall also made Satan in High Heels, starring Meg Myles, in which Hall portrayed a cabaret club owner named Pepe. She later disavowed the film. In September 1963, Hall traveled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to play the role of Judith Fellowes in John Huston's version of The Night of the Iguana, based on the original play by Tennessee Williams.[4] She was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Judith Fellowes, a latent lesbian women's college instructor. In the original play, the character was not sympathetic but Huston rewrote the character, wanting more complexity and sympathy. She was featured as a kidnapped bank teller in Walt Disney's That Darn Cat! in 1965. In 1967 she played a Thrush agent on the television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., in an episode written by Harlan Ellison.[5]

Dark Shadows[edit]

Hall's best-known television role was that of Dr. Julia Hoffman, on Dark Shadows, where she portrayed the loyal confidant and friend of the vampire, Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid). Other key roles that she played on the show were those of Countess Natalie Dupres; Magda Rakosi, a Gypsy; Hoffman, a Mrs. Danvers-type housekeeper, Julia Collins; and Constance Collins, sister of Brutus Collins.[6] She also appeared in both "Dark Shadows" feature films: House of Dark Shadows, again as Dr. Julia Hoffman, and Night of Dark Shadows, as a new character, housekeeper Carlotta Drake.[5]

Later career[edit]

Before appearing in The Night of the Iguana and Dark Shadows, Hall had an active stage career in New York City. She portrayed Irma, the madam of an irregular bordello amidst a civil war in the controversial Jean Genet play The Balcony for over one year at the Circle in the Square theatre in Greenwich Village. It was the longest running off-Broadway play for many decades.[7]

After Dark Shadows ended in 1971, she had a brief stint as reporter Marge Grey on All My Children (1973). She continued acting on stage as Warda in Jean Genet's The Screens (1971–72) and The Lady in Gray/The Fly in Happy End (1977) which co-starred Meryl Streep and Christopher Lloyd.[8]

She appeared in the Broadway premiere of The Suicide (1980) with Derek Jacobi, and appeared opposite Geraldine Page, Carrie Nye and Madeline Sherwood in an off-Broadway revival of The Madwoman of Chaillot.[4]

She appeared in Gargoyles, filmed in New Mexico with Cornel Wilde, and the Dan Curtis television film The Great Ice Rip-Off opposite Lee J. Cobb and Gig Young. She starred in the ABC mystery film The Two Deaths of Sean Doolittle which was written by her husband, Sam Hall. Her last onscreen role was that of Euphemia Ralston (Delila's scheming mother) in the soap opera One Life to Live from July 1982 until April 1983.[5][7]


After a six-month battle with lung cancer, Hall died in New York City in 1985, aged 62. A simple marker near her Hudson Valley home reads "Grayson Hall — August 7, 1985".[9]

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1959 The United States Steel Hour Secretary Episode: "Wish on the Moon"
Credited as Shirley Grayson
1962 Satan in High Heels Pepe
1964 Route 66 Mrs. Reston Episode: "Follow the White Dove with the Broken Wing"
1964 The Night of the Iguana Judith Fellowes Nominated: Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated: Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1965 Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Miss Fitzhugh Episode: "Back to Back"
1965 That Darn Cat! Margaret Miller
1966 Qui êtes vous, Polly Maggoo? Miss Maxwell English title: Who Are You, Polly Magoo?
1966 The Trials of O'Brien Louise Malcolm Episode: "A Horse Called Destiny"
1967 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Judy Merril Episode: "The Pieces of Fate Affair"
1967 The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. Mrs. Fowler Episode: "The High and the Deadly Affair"
1967 to 1971 Dark Shadows Dr. Julia Hoffman
Various roles
474 episodes
1970 Night Gallery Ann Brigham Episode: "The House/Certain Shadows on the Wall"
1970 Adam at Six A.M. Inez Treadly
1970 House of Dark Shadows Dr. Julia Hoffman
1971 Night of Dark Shadows Carlotta Drake Alternative title: Curse of Dark Shadows
1972 Gargoyles (TV Movie) Mrs. Parks
1973 All My Children Marge Grey Unknown episodes
1974 Kojak Mrs. Campbell Episode: "Hush Now, Don't You Die"
1975 Pick-up Voice Uncredited
1982 to 1983 One Life to Live Euphemia Ralston Unknown episodes


  1. ^ Aged 7 on April 11, 1930 per United States census records,; accessed November 1, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Jamison, R.J. (2006). Grayson Hall: A Hard Act to Follow. iUniverse. pp. 4–5. ISBN 0-595-40462-6. 
  3. ^ Hall also gave 1923 and 1925 as her year of birth on various documents, but elementary school and census records substantively establish 1922 as the correct year.
  4. ^ a b Grayson Hall at the Internet Broadway Database
  5. ^ a b c Grayson Hall at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ Scott, K.L. (2000). Dark Shadows Almanac (2nd ed.). Pomegranate Press. ISBN 978-0-938817-18-5. 
  7. ^ a b Grayson Hall at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
  8. ^ Napoleon, Davi (1991). Chelsea on the Edge: The Adventures of an American Theater. Iowa State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8138-1713-2. 
  9. ^ Profile Grayson Hall at Find a Grave; accessed November 1, 2015.

Further reading[edit]

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