|Born||Sada Carolyn Thompson
September 27, 1927
Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.
|Died||May 4, 2011
Danbury, Connecticut, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Donald Stewart (1949–2011; her death); 1 child|
Life and career
Born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1927 to Hugh Woodruff Thompson and his wife Corlyss (née Gibson), and raised in Fanwood, New Jersey, where she attended Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, graduating in the class of 1945. Thompson earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, after which she worked steadily in regional theatre in such plays as The Seagull, Pygmalion, Our Town, Arms and the Man, and Blithe Spirit. She received training at Pittsburgh Playhouse, where she appeared in numerous productions.
She made her Off-Broadway debut in a 1955 production of Under Milkwood, and the following year she appeared on television in a Goodyear Television Playhouse production. She made her Broadway debut in the 1959 musical Juno. Her additional New York City stage-credits include The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Tartuffe, and Twigs. Her stage performances won her an Obie Award, a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, three Drama Desk Awards and two Sarah Siddons Awards (the last presented for outstanding performances in Chicago theatre). She was elected to the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2005.
On the strength of her success in Twigs, Thompson was signed to play neighbor Irene Lorenzo on All in the Family. After taping her first episode, however, she was replaced by Betty Garrett, when it became obvious that she and producer Norman Lear had different opinions about how the character should be played. Her portrayal of matriarch Kate Lawrence on Family won her the 1978 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and garnered her three nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series Drama.
She was nominated for the Emmy Award nine times, winning once. Thompson's additional television credits included Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, The Love Boat, Father Dowling Mysteries, Andre's Mother, Cheers, Indictment: The McMartin Trial, ER and Law & Order. Her feature films included The Pursuit of Happiness, Desperate Characters, and Pollock.
Sada Thompson died on May 4, 2011, in Danbury, Connecticut, of lung disease, aged 83. In addition to her daughter, Liza, she is survived by her husband (a former executive for Pan American Airways) and a brother, David.
- McLellan, Dennis. "Sada Thompson dies at 83; stage and TV actress known for playing matriarch on Family", Los Angeles Times, May 6, 2011. Accessed June 18, 2016. "Born Sada Carolyn Thompson in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sept. 27, 1927, she moved with her family to Fanwood, N.J., several years later."
- Staff, "New inductees to Scotch Plains-Fanwood H.S. Hall of Fame", Suburban News, October 9, 2014. Accessed June 18, 2016. "Sada Thompson. Class of 1945. Now deceased, Sada starred as an actress in productions off-Broadway, Broadway, TV and films."
- Conner, Lynne (2007). Pittsburgh In Stages: Two Hundred Years of Theater. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 152. ISBN 978-0-8229-4330-3. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
- "Theater Hall of Fame inducts Thompson, Lithgow, others". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
- Weber, Bruce (May 5, 2011). "Sada Thompson, Actress Known for Maternal Roles, Dies at 83". New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2011.