Ann Wedgeworth: 1934-2017
by Paula Bosse
by Paula Bosse
The actress Ann Wedgeworth has died. If you don’t know her by her name, you probably know her by her face, or, even more likely, by her voice. I’m always impressed when actors are able to retain their natural accents without having to homogenize them to meet Hollywood standards, and Wedgeworth’s Texas accent was pretty thick. I would bet hard cash she reminds you of someone you know or someone in your own family.
Even though she had worked as an actor since she was a teenager — in school productions, small regional theaters, off-Broadway, Broadway, TV, soap operas, and movies — it was probably her short-lived role as Lana on Three’s Company which brought her to the attention of the widest audience.
Elizabeth Ann Wedgeworth was born in 1934 in Taylor County and spent her early years in Snyder and Perryton, Texas, where her father had been the superintendent of schools (her mother died when she was 2); she arrived in Dallas around 1946 when she was about 12 years old. Her father worked in conjunction with SMU and the Veteran’s Administration for a time before becoming a longtime employee of the City of Dallas; her stepmother was a student counselor at Highland Park Junior High School.
She attended high school in Highland Park, graduating from HPHS in 1950 (the same year as her school friend, Jayne Mansfield). She began her acting career when she was a teenager, racking up quite a lot of experience in Dallas theater productions and in a Colorado stock company. She focused on acting during college, which included both SMU and the University of Texas — she probably met her future husband Rip Torn in Austin, where he was a fellow actor who had been active in the UT theater program (and who was, incidentally, the cousin of future actress Sissy Spacek). The couple was married in Dallas in 1955, at the First Methodist Church (which I wrote about here). They lived in Killeen briefly until Torn’s military stint at Ford Hood was up, then they headed to New York City, where the couple began to find acting work fairly quickly. The two had one daughter and divorced in 1961; she remarried and had another daughter. (More about Ann Wedgeworth can be read in the Wikipedia entry here.)
Ann worked a lot, and, as I said, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen her in something. Though known mostly for her work in TV and movies, she won a Tony Award in 1978 for her role in Neil Simon’s Broadway play Chapter Two. Her breathlessly exuberant (and charmingly ditzy) acceptance speech is amusing (I am such a sucker for that accent!):
Ann Wedgeworth died on November 16, 2017; she was 83 years old.
photo via Lipstick Alley
Sources & Notes
Ann Wedgeworth’s obituary in The Washington Post can be found here.
School photos are from Highland Park High School and Southern Methodist University yearbooks.
The photo of 18-year-old Ann with Hume Cronyn appeared in the SMU Campus newspaper on March 5, 1952. (I believe Ann came in second in the competition.)
The wedding announcement of Ann and Rip Torn appeared in the Longview Daily News on Feb. 6, 1955. (Rip Torn was born Elmore Rual Torn, Jr. — as a kid he was actually known as “Skip” Torn. …Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it….)
Most photos and clippings are larger when clicked.
Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.