ELIZABETH ASHLEY made her Broadway debut in 1959 in Dore Shary’s The Highest Tree. Her Broadway credits include Enchanted April with Molly Ringwald, the recent revival of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, Take Her, She’s Mine opposite Art Carney and directed by George Abbott (Tony and Theatre World Awards). Barefoot in the Park, in which she starred with Robert Redford, was written for her by Neil Simon and directed by Mike Nichols (second Tony nomination), The Skin of Our Teeth directed by Jose Quintero (opened the American Bi-Centennial at the Kennedy Center & on Broadway) , and Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra with Rex Harrison at the Palace Theatre. Other Broadway credits include Legend, Hide and Seek, and Agnes of God (originated the role of Dr. Livingston opposite Geraldine Page and Amanda Plummer) for which she received the Albert Einstein Award for excellence in the performing arts.
Perhaps best known as one of the definitive interpreters of Tennessee Williams’ work, she has starred in many of his plays, including Eight by Tenn (eight of Williams’ one-acts) starring with Amanda Plummer at the Hartford Stage, the 1973 landmark Broadway production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof directed by Michael Kahn (third Tony nomination and Tennessee Williams Foundation Award), Suddenly Last Summer at Circle in the Square, Red Devil Battery Sign, and The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (WPA), Out Cry directed by Michael Wilson and Sweet Bird of Youth, directed by Michael Kahn at Washington’s Shakespeare Theatre (Helen Hayes Award nomination / Millennium Award). She has also appeared in The Glass Menagerie directed by Michael Wilson (Hartford Stage, A.R.T. Boston and Alley Theatre) which won the Boston Globe Critic\'s Award and most recently she became the first actress to have played Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and returned 30 years later to play Big Mama in the highly praised production at Hartford Stage.
She played Isadora Duncan in When She Danced (Playwrights Horizons); appeared in A.R. Gurney’s The Perfect Party and Giraudoux’ The Enchanted (Kennedy Center); Master Class (Royal Alexandria Theatre/Toronto); played Regina in The Little Foxes directed by Douglas Hughs at the Shakespeare Theatre.
National tours and regional work include Vanities with Kathy Bates, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf directed by Michael Wilson, A Coupla White Chicks with Sandy Dennis, Full Gallop, and Eleemosynary directed by Burt Reynolds.
Film credits include The Carpetbaggers (debut, 1962), Ship of Fools (Golden Globe nomination), Rancho Deluxe with Jeff Bridges, Marriage of a Young Stockbroker, Golden Needles, 92 In the Shade with Warren Oates, The Great Scout, Cathouse Thursday with Lee Marvin, Coma with Michael Douglas, Paternity with Burt Reynolds, Split Image with James Woods, Dragnet with Tom Hanks, Vampire Kiss with Nicholas Cage, A Man of Passion with Anthony Quinn, Happiness directed by Todd Solondz( Independent Spirit Award), Just the Ticket with Andy Garcia, Stagecoach with Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, Windows directed by Gordon Willis, and Broadway: The Golden Age directed by Rick McKay.
Among her TV credits are A&E\'s \"The Rope\" by Eugene O\'Neill (Cable ACE Award Nomination - Best Actress), \"The Two Mrs. Grenvilles\" with Ann-Margret, \"Miami Vice,\" \"Svengali\" with Peter O\'Toole and Jodie Foster, \"The War Between the Tates,\" \"When Michael Calls\" with Michael Douglas, \"Sandburg\'s Lincoln,\" \"Caroline in the City,\" \"Dave\'s World,\" series\' regular on \"Evening Shade\" with Burt Reynolds (Emmy nomination), \"The Buccaneers\" (PBS), \"Law & Order\" and \"Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,\" \"The Larry Sanders Show,\" \"Homicide: Life on the Street\" and many appearances on \"The Tonight Show\" with Johnny Carson.
Miss Ashley was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the American Film Institute while serving on the first National Council of the Arts during the administrations of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and also served on the President’s Committee for the Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Awards. She is the author of the best-selling book, Actress: Postcards from the Road (published in 1978). She can be heard on Lou Reed’s 2004 CD, “The Raven.” Rolling Stone magazine credits Miss Ashley as originating the phrase, “money is the long hair of the 80’s.”
Miss Ashley has retired and resumed her career twice. The first time was in 1965 when she married actor George Peppard, her second of several marriages (actor James Farentino being her first). She and Peppard gave birth to their son Christian in 1968. After divorcing Peppard in 1970, she resumed her acting career with great success. Her book became a best seller in the late 70’s and she retired a second time to sail around the world on a nine-meter ocean racing sailboat.
She once again resumed her career by hosting Saturday Night Live on February 7th, 1982. She started rehearsals for Agnes of God two weeks later, which played 14 months on Broadway and 40 weeks on the road.
She is currently working on her autobiography while driving through all of North America with her dog, Che Guevara. Miss Ashley is 66-years-old and mother of the “Glorious Christian Peppard.”