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Eva Le Gallienne

Eva Le Gallienne

Eva Le Gallienne (1899 – 1991) was a theatrical actress, producer and director during the first half of the 20th century. She made her stage debut at the age of 15 in a 1914 production of Maurice Maeterlinck's Monna Vanna. The next year Le Gallienne sailed for New York, and became a Broadway star in several plays including Arthur Richman's Not So Long Ago (1920) and Ferenc Molnár's Liliom (1921). Disillusioned by the state of commercial theatre in the 1920s, Le Gallienne founded the Civic Repertory Theatre in the former Fourteenth Street Theatre in Manhattan, New York. She was backed by the financial support of one of her lovers, Alice DeLamar, a wealthy Colorado gold mine heiress, whose support was instrumental in the success of the repertory theatre movement in the U.S.

In the late 1930s Le Gallienne became involved in a relationship with theatre director Margaret Webster. She, Webster, and producer Cheryl Crawford later co-founded the American Repertory Theater, which operated from 1946 to 1948. In the late 1950s she enjoyed great success playing the role of Queen Elizabeth in Mary Stuart, an off-Broadway production.

In 1964, Le Gallienne was presented with a special Tony Award in recognition of her 50th year as an actress and in honour of her work with the National Repertory Theatre. The National Endowment for the Arts also recognised her with the National Medal of Arts in 1986.  

Although known primarily for her theatre work, she has also appeared in films and television productions. She earned an Oscar nomination for her work in Resurrection, for which she gained the honour of being the oldest Oscar nominee up to that time (1980) until Gloria Stuart in 1997; and won an Emmy Award for a televised version of The Royal Family after having starred in a Broadway theatre revival of that play in 1976. 


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