Beatrice Straight





8/2/1914 , Old Westbury, New York, USA



Birth Name

Beatrice Whitney Straight




In her long career, Beatrice Straight actually did very little work in the movies, plying her trade mostly on stage. But, when she did grace the silver screen, she did it with great skill. Her first love was theatre, having debuted on Broadway in the 1935 "Bitter Oleander." Her work garnered her much acclaim, including laurels in her Tony-winning performance (an award for best supporting actress) as Elizabeth Proctor in the 1953 production of Arthur Miller's "The Curcible." In addition to theatre and movies, she also gave us notable work on television. In 1978 she won an Emmy nomination for her part as the matriarch Alice Dain Leggett in the miniseries "The Dain Curse." No less stately, she played the part of Lynda Carter's Queen Mother in the 1970s "Wonder Woman" series. Her life was touched by that same kind of elegance and stateliness that she often portrayed on stage and screen. She was born Beatrice Whitney Straight in Old Westbury on Long Island. Her father, the banker and diplomat Willard Dickerman Straight, associated with the likes of J.P. Morgan. Her mother, Dorothy Payne Whitney Straight, was an heiress of the Whitneys, a dynastic (in the sense of T.V.'s own "Dynasty") moneyed family on the eastern seaboard. Beatrice went to the best schools, and caught the acting bug while a student in Devonshire, England, rendering a critically acclaimed performance in a school production of Ibsen's "A Doll's House." Her studies subsequently turned to acting, studying under the tutelage of Michael Chekhov, who was the nephew of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov and a member of the Moscow Art Theatre. Their relationship was somewhat symbiotic in that she persuaded him to start an acting school, later teaching there herself. It was through her work in the theatre that she met her husband, Peter Cookson, appearing opposite him as leading lady in "The Heiress" in 1948. She is perhaps best known for her achievement in the 1976 movie "Network"; after only three days of work in that movie and just a few scenes that actually made it into the final cut, Beatrice Straight contributed such a stellar performance that she earned the Academy Award for the best performance by a supporting actress.