Susan Tyrrell

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Susan Tyrrell
Susan Tyrrell 1970.jpg
Tyrrell in 1970
Born Susan Jillian Creamer
(1945-03-18)March 18, 1945
San Francisco, California, USA
Died June 16, 2012(2012-06-16) (aged 67)
Austin, Texas
Occupation Actress
Years active 1964–2012

Susan Tyrrell (March 18, 1945 – June 16, 2012[1]) was an American actress, known for her Best Supporting Actress Oscar-nominated performance as Oma in Fat City, and for her role as Ramona Rickettes in the John Waters film Cry-Baby.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Tyrrell was born Susan Jillian Creamer in San Francisco, California. Her father was a top agent at one time with the William Morris Agency. Her first performing role was in the New York City theatrical production of Time Out for Ginger opposite Art Carney.[1] She built up her résumé in summer stock and regional plays, usually cast in standard ingénue roles, although her theatre roles would grow larger once she came to New York City, where she appeared in The Rimers of Eldritch, Cactus Flower, King Lear, Camino Real, and The Time of Your Life, among others. She appeared in more than seventy-five films and television series, including Baretta, Starsky and Hutch and Kojak.[1]


After her film debut in Shoot Out (1971), her performance as Oma in John Huston's Fat City brought her a 1972 Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She revealed in a 2000 interview how the 66-year-old director had prepared her for the role by taking her on a drink-fuelled tour of northern California, during which he took full advantage of the opportunities offered by the casting couch. “I can’t describe to you how horrible it was. Goddamn bastard. I still hate him.”[4]

Tyrrell played Solly, a tough, foul-mouthed lesbian, in both 1980s cult-films Angel and Avenging Angel. In the first film she sparred with co-star Dick Shawn over a game of cribbage, and in the sequel, Solly acted as den-mother to a group of transvestite prostitutes and raised an abandoned baby. In 1985 she played the role of Celine in Paul Verhoeven's adventure film Flesh+Blood, and was in John Water's cult classic Cry Baby as Ramona Rickettes. In 1990 she made a mystery guest appearance on the TV talk show Decoupage, appearing with hostess Summer Caprice and as the mother of Vaginal Davis in an interview and dance routine.[5] She continued to work, playing Ella the Fortune Teller in Masked and Anonymous (2003) and the High Priestess in The Devil's Due at Midnight (2004). She move to Austin, Texas in 2008. Her last role was as a woman trapped in a hole in the woods in Nathan and David Zellner's Kid-Thing.[1] She was credited as Susan Tyrell in her early films. At her request, her narration for Ralph Bakshi's Wizards was uncredited.

She was also a composer, credited with the song "Witch's Egg" in Forbidden Zone, in which she starred, a 1982 low-budget indie film directed by Richard Elfman with musical group Oingo Boingo (known then as The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo), headed by Richard's younger brother Danny Elfman.

Illness, Personal life and death[edit]

In early 2000, she suffered the loss of both legs as a result of blood clots due to the rare blood disease essential thrombocythemia.[6] A friend of Tyrrell's told a news outlet that the actress had died on June 16, 2012, aged 67.[1]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Odam, Matthew. "Actress Susan Tyrell Dies at 67". Austin Movie Blog. Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  2. ^ Daniel E. Slotnik (June 21, 2012). "Susan Tyrrell, Oscar Nominee, Dies at 67". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Corinne Heller (June 19, 2012). "Susan Tyrrell of 'Cry-Baby,' 'Fat City,' dies at age 67". 
  4. ^
  5. ^, Episode 3, Clips 3, 4, & 5. "Decoupage Episode #3". 
  6. ^ Paul Cullum (November 1, 2000). "My So-Called Rotten Life Susan Tyrrell's sentimental journey through money, fame, sex and amputation". LA Weekly. 
  7. ^ Handler, David (March 3, 1982). "'Open All Night' is weird -- but good". The Madison Courier (Madison, IN). p. B7. Retrieved November 16, 2012. 

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