Susan Anspach

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Susan Anspach
Susan Anspach 1979.jpg
Anspach in 1979
Susan Florence Anspach

(1942-11-23)November 23, 1942
Queens, New York City, U.S.
DiedApril 2, 2018(2018-04-02) (aged 75)
Years active1961–2009
  • Renald Anspach (father)
  • Gertrude Kehoe (mother)
RelativesRobert Anspach (brother)[1]

Susan Florence Anspach (ONS-bok November 23, 1942 – April 2, 2018)[2] was an American stage, film and television actress, who was best known for her roles in films during the 1970s and 1980s such as Five Easy Pieces (1970), Play It Again, Sam (1972), Blume in Love (1973), Montenegro (1981), Blue Monkey (1987), and Blood Red (1989).

Early life[edit]

Anspach was born and raised in Queens, New York City, the daughter of Gertrude (née Kehoe), a secretary and singer, and Renald Anspach, a World War II Army veteran and later factory worker. The couple met at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Anspach's grandfather had disapproved of the marriage because he thought that Gertrude, in his view, had married down. He disowned his daughter.[3][1] Anspach was raised by her great aunt until Anspach was six, when her aunt had died. She went back to live with her parents. Because of neglect and physical abuse, she left her parents at age 15. With the help of a Roman Catholic organization, she was with a family in Harlem.[1]

Anspach graduated from William Cullen Bryant High School in Long Island City in 1960.[4] She received a full scholarship to the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. She studied music and drama. Anspach made her professional debut in Thornton Wilder’s one-act play Pullman Car Hiawatha at a summer theater in Maryland.[1][4] After college, she moved back to New York City.[2]


Anspach starred in several Broadway and off-Broadway shows, including as the female lead (Sheila) in the musical Hair, which shocked some audiences with its antiwar messages, celebration of nonmarital sex, and an all-nude scene. The musical ran for 45 performances at the Cheetah Theatre. She was in a play with Al Pacino while at the Actors Studio.[1] Anspach first came to prominence in the 1970 film Five Easy Pieces, directed by Bob Rafelson and starring Jack Nicholson. Vincent Canby of The New York Times called her "one of America's most charming and talented actresses".[5] She followed this with a supporting role in Woody Allen's Play It Again, Sam (1972) and a more prominent role in Paul Mazursky's romantic comedy Blume in Love (1973), alongside George Segal and Kris Kristofferson.

Anspach originally was cast in the role of country singer Barbara Jean in the 1975 film Nashville, but her salary request exceeded the ensemble film's budget; she was replaced by Ronee Blakley.[6]

She starred off-Broadway in 1965 in A View from the Bridge with Robert Duvall, Jon Voight, and Dustin Hoffman.[7]

In her film career, Anspach starred in 19 features and eight television movies and also was featured in two series, The Yellow Rose and The Slap Maxwell Story (with Dabney Coleman). She guest-starred in the episode "All My Tomorrows" of the NBC romantic anthology series Love Story in 1973.[8]

Personal life and death[edit]

Anspach was Roman Catholic. She said that the church and her psychoanalyst were her "parents" for close to 10 years of her youth.[9]

Anspach had a daughter, Catherine Goddard (born October 15, 1968) with fellow Hair cast member Steve Curry, according to his October 6, 2014, obituary in The New York Times.[10] She had a son, Caleb Goddard, in 1970, whom she claims was fathered by actor Jack Nicholson.[4] She married actor Mark Goddard in 1970 and divorced him in 1978. Goddard adopted both children. Anspach married musician Sherwood Ball in 1982 and divorced him in 1988.[11]


Anspach died from heart failure on April 2, 2018, aged 75, in her Los Angeles home.[1]


Anspach marched with United Farm Workers head Cesar Chavez. She protested the racist apartheid system of South Africa. Anspach also advocated for human rights in Central America.[12]



Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1970 The Landlord Susan Enders Directed by Hal Ashby
Five Easy Pieces Catherine Van Oost Directed, produced, and story by Bob Rafelson
1972 Play It Again, Sam Nancy
1973 Blume in Love Nina Blume Directed, written, and produced by Paul Mazursky
1978 The Big Fix Lila
1979 Running Janet Sports drama film directed by Steven Hilliard Stern
1981 The Devil and Max Devlin Penny Hart Fantasycomedy film directed by Steven Hilliard Stern
Gas Jane Beardsley Canadian comedy film directd by Les Rose
Montenegro Marilyn Jordan
1984 Misunderstood Lily
1987 Blue Monkey Dr. Judith Glass Horror film directed by William Fruet
Heaven and Earth Karen McKeon
1988 Into the Fire Rosalind Winfield Thriller film directred by Graeme Campbell
1989 The Rutanga Tapes Kate Simpson
Blood Red Widow Drama film directed by Peter Masterson
Back to Back Madeline Hix
2009 Wild About Harry Martha Drama film directed by Gwen Wynne and co-written by Wynne & Mary Beth Fielder
2011 Inversion Edna Boswell (final film role)


Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1964 The Nurses Harriet Ravensel
  • Episode: "So Some Girls Play the Cello" (S 3:Ep 10)
  • Also known as The Doctors and the Nurses
1965 The Patty Duke Show Susan Episode: "Will the Real Sammy Davis Please Hang Up?" (S 2:Ep 25)
The Defenders Jackie Dowling Episode: "A Matter of Law and Disorder" (S 4:Ep 26)
The Patty Duke Show Susan Episode: "Cathy, the Rebel" (S 2:Ep 31)
The Nurses Leora
  • Episode: "The Heroine" (S 3:Ep 29)
  • Also known as The Doctors and the Nurses
1966 The Journey of the Fifth Horse Miss Gruboy / Elizaveta Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Larry Arrick and Earl Dawson
1969 Judd, for the Defense Nan Dawes Episode: "Runaway" (S 2:Ep 23)
1973 Love Story Lee McKinley Episode: "All My Tomorrows" (S 1:Ep 2)
1975 For the Use of the Hall Terry Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Lee Grant
1976 McMillan & Wife Lt. Kit Boone Episode: "Point of Law" (S 5:Ep 7)
I Want to Keep My Baby! Donna Jo Martelli Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Jerry Thorpe
The Secret Life of John Chapman Wilma
1977 Rosetti and Ryan Beverly Dresden Episode: "Men Who Love Women" (Pilot) [18]
Mad Bull Christina Sebastiani Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Walter Doniger and Len Steckler
1979 The Last Giraffe Betty Leslie-Melville
  • Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Jack Couffer
  • Based on Raising Daisy Rothschild by Leslie-Melville
1980 Portrait of an Escort Jordan West Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Steven Hilliard Stern
1982 The First Time Lucy Dillon Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Noel Nosseck
1982 Deadly Encounter Chris Butler Made-for-TV-Movie directed by William A. Graham
1984 Gone Are the Dayes Phyllis Daye Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Gabrielle Beaumont
1989 Murder, She Wrote Lois Fricksey Episode: "Dead Letter" (S 6:Ep 6)
2002 Dancing at the Harvest Moon Julia Made-for-TV-Movie directed Bobby Roth



  1. ^ a b c d e f Gates, Anita (April 5, 2018). "Susan Anspach, 75, Dies; Daring Actress in Maverick Films". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company.
  2. ^ a b Haring, Bruce (April 5, 2018). "Susan Anspach Dies: 'Five Easy Pieces' & 'Play It Again, Sam' Actress Was 75". Deadline Hollywood. United States: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  3. ^ Windeler, Robert (November 20, 1978). "It's Easier to Pull a Rabbit Than a Career Out of a Hat—Unless You're Susan Anspach". People. United States: Time Inc. and Meredith Corporation. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Brockington, Ariana (April 5, 2018). "Susan Anspach, 'Five Easy Pieces' and 'Blume in Love' Actress, Dies at 75". Variety. Los Angeles: Variety Media, LLC. (Penske Media Corporation). Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  5. ^ Canby, Vincent (November 8, 1981). "Makavejev'S 'Montenegro,' Set In Sweden". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  6. ^ Robert Altman in his DVD commentary to Nashville, Paramount DVD, 2000 release
  7. ^ Bergan, Ronald (April 11, 2018). "Susan Anspach obituary, Actor who starred in 'Five Easy Pieces' and 'Play It Again, Sam'". The Guardian. Kings Place, London: Guardian Media Group. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  8. ^ "Love Story". United States: CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  9. ^ "Susan Anspach obituary: ethereal star of New Hollywood". BFI National Archive. United Kingdom: British Film Institute.
  10. ^ "Steve Curry obituary". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  11. ^ Barnes, Mike (April 5, 2018). "Susan Anspach, Actress in 'Five Easy Pieces' and 'Blume in Love,' Dies at 75". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles: Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group (Valence Media). Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  12. ^ Associated Press (April 9, 2018). "Susan Anspach, who starred in 'Five Easy Pieces' and 'Blume in Love,' dead at 75". USA Today. McLean, Virginia: Gannett Corporation. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  13. ^ Canby, Vincent (November 19, 1978). "The Big Fix Film Review". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  14. ^ Simon, Roger L. (1973). The Big Fix (1st ed.). San Francisco: Straight Arrow Books. ISBN 978-0879320485.
  15. ^ Montgomery, Florence (1869). Misunderstood. New York City: Anson D. F. Randolph & Company. ASIN QBAAAAQAAJ.
  16. ^ Zambenedetti 2014, p. 52.
  17. ^ Snyder, Susan (September 7, 2016). "John R. Coleman, former Haverford College president and jack of all trades, dies at 95". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Media Network. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  18. ^ Terrace 1985, p. 355.
  19. ^ Leslie-Melville, Betty (1977). Raising Daisy Rothschild (Hard cover ed.). New York City: Simon & Schuster. ASIN B000RWW0VS.


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