Tally Brown

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Tally Brown (August 1, 1934 in New York City–May 6, 1989 in New York City) [1] was a singer and actress who was part of the New York underground performance scene and who appeared in or was the subject of films by Andy Warhol and Rosa von Praunheim.[2]

Musical and singing career[edit]

Brown received classical musical training at Juilliard; however, she later took up the genres of jazz and the blues after having met Leonard Bernstein at Tanglewood in 1947.[3]

Along with Ruth W. Greenfield, Brown was one of the founders in 1951 of the Fine Arts Conservatory, in Miami, which The New York Times described as, "one of the first racially integrated theaters and art schools in the South." [2]

By the 1950s, Brown had developed a rhythm-and-blues style akin to such performers as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, and during this time, she released an album entitled, A Torch for Tally, with the Jimmy Diamond Quartet. The album featured the songs Limehouse Blues, Honeysuckle Rose, and My Man.[3]

Brown was also cast in productions of Mame, The Pajama Game, Medea, and other shows, which were staged on and off Broadway.[2][4]

In the 1960s and 70s, Brown sang in notable New York City nightclubs such as Reno Sweeney's and S.N.A.F.U. She also provided entertainment at the Continental Baths, a gay bathhouse in New York City. Following her death, The New York Times published an obituary in which Brown and her singing style were thus described: "A short, stout singer with wild black hair, Ms. Brown was known for her intense, dramatic renditions of songs by Kurt Weill, the Rolling Stones and David Bowie." [2]

Acting career[edit]

Brown began her film acting career by appearing in the film Batman Dracula (1964) and the film Camp (1965), both directed by Warhol.[1] In one scene from Camp, Brown mimicked Yma Sumac.[5]

Brown appeared in such experimental films as Brand X (film) (1970) and The Illiac Passion (1964-67).[2] She was also featured in the horror film Silent Night, Bloody Night (1974).[6]

The New York underground performance scene[edit]

Brown was "prominent in the underground performance world of the 1960s and 70s." [2] In the summer of 1964, Brown first met Warhol at a benefit for the Living Theatre, the alternative theatre in New York City of which she was a member.[3] Brown would later be featured in at least two of Warhol's films.

In 1970, she was among a panel of guests who participated in a discussion on the David Susskind Show about Warhol's underground film Trash (1970). Also interviewed were other members of Warhol's "Factory".[7]

Tally Brown, New York[edit]

German filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim directed a documentary based on the life of Brown entitled Tally Brown, New York in which he relied on "extensive interviews with Brown, as she recounts her collaboration with Warhol, Taylor Mead, and others...." [8] Released in 1979 in the former West Germany, Tally Brown, New York was a portrait of Brown's singing and acting career. Distinguished cameo appearances in the film included that of actors Divine and Holly Woodlawn.

In the same year of its release, the documentary won the Film Award in Silver at the German Film Awards for "Outstanding Non-Feature Film'.[9] The documentary was also noteworthy for its use of cinéma vérité in its opening shot by depicting New York's gritty street life in and around Times Square in the 1970s, before it was later cleaned up.




  1. ^ a b "Tally Brown". IMDb. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Tally Brown, 64, Dies; Singer and an Actress". New York Times. 1989-05-09. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  3. ^ a b c "Lot 208: DIANE ARBUS 1923-1971". Sotheby's, United States of America - 2006. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  4. ^ "Internet Broadway Database". The Broadway League. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  5. ^ "CAMP (1965)". Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  6. ^ "Silent Night, Bloody Night". IMDb. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  7. ^ "Rudy Grillo Sound Recordings: 1970-1989" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 14, 2008. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  8. ^ Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide. "Tally Brown, N.Y. (1979)". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  9. ^ "Outstanding Non-Feature Film". IMDb. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 

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