Phyllis Newman

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Phyllis Newman
Newman in 1966
Born(1933-03-19)March 19, 1933
DiedSeptember 15, 2019(2019-09-15) (aged 86)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Occupation(s)Actress, singer
Years active1952–2019
(m. 1960; died 2002)

Phyllis Newman (March 19, 1933 – September 15, 2019) was an American actress and singer. She won the 1962 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as Martha Vail in the musical Subways Are for Sleeping on Broadway, received the Isabelle Stevenson Award in 2009 and was nominated another Tony for Broadway Bound (1987), as well as two nominations for Drama Desk Awards.

Early life and education[edit]

Newman was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, one of three daughters of a Jewish immigrant couple. Her mother, Rachel Gottlieb, from Lithuania, was professionally known as Marvelle the Fortune Teller. Her father, Sigmund Newman, from Warsaw, billed himself as Gabel the Graphologist, working with his wife in boardwalk amusements.[1]

Newman had two sisters, Shirley (Mrs. Elliott) Porte, and Elaine (Mrs. Harry) Sandaufer.[1] She attended Lincoln High School, where she was voted "Future Hollywood Star."[2]



Newman made her Broadway debut in Wish You Were Here in 1952. Additional theater credits include Bells Are Ringing, Pleasures and Palaces, The Apple Tree, On the Town, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, Awake and Sing!, Broadway Bound, and Subways Are for Sleeping, for which she won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, beating out Barbra Streisand in I Can Get It for You Wholesale.[3]

Newman played Stella Deems in the 1985 staged concert version of Follies at Avery Fischer Hall in New York. The concert produced both a cast recording as well as a filmed documentary, preserving her performance singing "Who's That Woman?".

In June 1979, Newman and Arthur Laurents collaborated on the one-woman show The Madwoman of Central Park West. Produced by Fritz Holt, it featured songs by Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Bock, John Kander, Martin Charnin, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Edward Kleban, Fred Ebb, Sheldon Harnick, Peter Allen, Barry Manilow, Carole Bayer Sager, and Stephen Sondheim. The show ran for 86 performances at the 22 Steps Theatre in New York City.[4]


An early television role for Newman was in a 1959 episode of Beverly Garland's crime drama Decoy. The following year, she was cast as Doris Hudson on the CBS summer replacement series Diagnosis: Unknown, with Patrick O'Neal as Dr. Daniel Coffee.

Newman became a major television celebrity of the 1960s and 1970s, a frequent panelist on the top-rated network game shows What's My Line?, Match Game and To Tell the Truth and a perennial guest of Johnny Carson on NBC's The Tonight Show. She also guest-starred as Elaine, the mother of Melissa (played by Melanie Mayron), on the 1980s television series Thirtysomething.

Newman created the role of former madame Renée Devine Buchanan on the soap opera One Life to Live and was a regular on the primetime series 100 Centre Street and the satirical series That Was The Week That Was. Other television credits include The Man from U.N.C.L.E.; Burke's Law; ABC Stage 67; Murder, She Wrote; and The Wild Wild West. Newman departed the cast of One Life to Live to appear on Coming of Age, a short-lived comedy about a couple living in an Arizona retirement community, with veteran actors Paul Dooley, Glynis Johns and Alan Young.


On screen, Newman appeared in Picnic (1955), Let's Rock (1958), Bye Bye Braverman (1968), To Find a Man (1972), Mannequin (1987), Only You (1994), The Beautician and the Beast (1997), A Price Above Rubies (1998), ‘’A Fish in the Bathtub’’ (1999), and The Human Stain (2003).


In addition to her appearances on original cast recordings, Newman recorded Those Were the Days, an album of contemporary songs, for Sire Records in 1968. In England, the album was released as Phyllis Newman's World of Music on London Records.[citation needed]

The Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative[edit]

In 1995, Newman founded The Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative of the Actors Fund of America. Since then, she hosted the annual gala Nothing Like a Dame, which has raised more than US $3.5 million and served 2,500 women in the entertainment industry.[5][6]

In 2009, Newman received the first Isabelle Stevenson Award, a special Tony Award, for her work with the Health Initiative. This award recognizes "an individual from the theatre community for [his or her] humanitarian work."[7][8]


Her memoir Just in Time — Notes from My Life relates her career; life with her husband, lyricist and playwright Adolph Green; and her experience with cancer.[9]

Personal life and death[edit]

Newman was married to lyricist and playwright Adolph Green from 1960 until his death in 2002. She was the mother of journalist Adam Green and singer-songwriter Amanda Green. Newman died on September 15, 2019, at the age of 86 from complications of a lung disorder.[5][1][10]


Year Title Role Notes
1955 Picnic Juanita Badger - Cool Girl uncredited
1956 The Vagabond King Lulu uncredited
1958 Let's Rock Kathy Abbott
1967 The Naked Witch Robert's Mother
1968 Bye Bye Braverman Myra Mandelbaum
1972 To Find a Man Betty McCarthy
1977 A Secret Space Ann
1987 Mannequin Emmy's Mother
1991 Saying Kaddish Lynn
1994 Only You Faith's Mother
1997 The Beautician and the Beast Judy Miller
1998 A Price Above Rubies Mrs. Gelbart
A Fish in the Bathtub Sylvia Rosen
2000 Just for the Time Being Maggie
It Had to Be You Judith Penn
2003 The Human Stain Iris Silk

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Phyllis Newman, Tony winner who fought for women's health, dies at 86". The Washington Post. September 16, 2019. Retrieved February 24, 2020.
  2. ^ "Phyllis Newman". Masterworks Broadway. Accessed April 3, 2014.
  3. ^ "Tony Award Nominations". Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  4. ^ "The Madwoman of Central Park West". Guide to Musical Theatre. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Finn, Robin (February 27, 2004)."Still a Broadway Baby After All These Years". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Gans, Andrew (October 1, 2007). "Annual Nothing Like a Dame Benefit Concert Sets 2008 Date". Playbill.
  7. ^ Pesner, Ben. "The Tonys Honor Jerry Herman, Phyllis Newman, Virginia's Signature Theatre, and Shirley Herz". Retrieved May 6, 2009.[dead link]
  8. ^ Jones, Kenneth (June 7, 2009). "'Billy Elliot', 'Norman Conquests', 'Hair', 'God of Carnage' Are Tony Award Winners". Playbill.
  9. ^ Newman, Phyllis (1988). Just in Time: Notes from My Life. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-61880-3. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  10. ^ September 15, 2019. "Phyllis Newman Has Passed Away at 86". Broadway World.

External links[edit]