Musings, News and Quotes relative to the Society of the Sacred Heart and its Alumni ... past, present and future. This blog also has links to other Sacred Heart websites. One feature is a list of books by Sacred Heart alum authors.
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014
"Elaine Stritch: SHOOT ME" - Opens in Theaters February 21st
New Documentary Film Honors Alumna Elaine Stritch, BH'43, DN'45
Television viewers know actor Elaine Stritch as Alec Baldwin’s mother on the hit comedy, 30 Rock, but her television presence dates over four decades. Theatre and movie enthusiasts have followed her long career that has run the gamut from musicals and comedies to dramatic roles – earning her numerous awards and a vast following.
Sundance Selects has acquired North American rights toElaine Stritch: Shoot Me, a week after the documentary made its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in May 2013. Chiemi Karasawa, is the film’s producer/director, and spent a year documenting Elaine’s life and career. The move by Sundance Select will bring the film to a wider audience.
Reviews of the documentary have given Karasawa high praise for portraying a sensitive, multi-faceted glimpse into the life of Elaine Stritch – herself a complex, multi-faceted woman, whose life story has all the elements of great theatre. And it all began 87 years ago in Detroit, Michigan.
Born on Feb. 2, 1925 (some sources state 1926) and raised the youngest of three girls in Detroit. She was the daughter of a well-to-do rubber company executive and his homemaker wife. Elaine was the entertainer of her family – always telling stories and doing imitations to the delight of party guests. The born entertainer with an early desire for a glamorous lifestyle moved to New York City in 1944 – a year after her graduation fromThe Convent of the Sacred Hearton Lawrence Avenue in Detroit, Michigan, now located in Bloomfield Hills.
When she moved to New York, she continued her Sacred Heart education at the Duchesne Residence in Manhattan, followed by acting classes at the Dramatic Workshop of the New School for Social Research in New York.
With her enthusiastic assertiveness and drive, it wasn’t hard for Elaine to get work in regional and off-Broadway productions. And only two years after arriving in New York, Elaine Stritch made her Broadway debut. The rest, as they say, is history.
What followed were increasingly important roles
in Broadway hits. A role in the drama, The Little Foxes;
understudy to Ethel Merman in Call Me Madam during its Broadway
run and the lead role in the National Tour. As her credits grew, so did her
opportunities in television and film.
Elaine married British actor John Bay in 1972
and moved to London. Over the next 10 years, she starred in London stage
productions and television sitcoms, earning a new audience of Elaine Stritch
enthusiasts. On the big screen, she more than held her own in a dual role
opposite Sir John Gielgud and Dirk Bogarde in Alain Resnais’ fascinating film Providence.
Following the death of her husband in 1982, she moved back to New York City,
where she began teaching at the Stella Adler Conservatory and had roles in
regional productions around the country.
Once again, her roles on Broadway, American
television and film were hers for the taking. Age never held her back. At 77,
she created her one-woman success, Elaine Stritch at Liberty–
taking the show from coast-to-coast to rave revues and sold-out appearances.
Not only did she tell her story, she sang and recreated roles that had brought
her fame over the decades.
It was the resilience and diverse talents of
Elaine that brought Chiemi Karasawa to undertake the new documentary. Not only
does it follow Elaine over a year and retrace her career, but also the film
includes interviews with such luminaries as Alec Baldwin – who is also the
film’s co-executive producer – Hal Prince, Nathan Lane, Tina Fey, the late
James Gandolfini and others.
The show business “bible” Variety published
this review of Karasawa’s achievement: “Painting a surprisingly tender,
insulin-injections-and-all portrait of a star known for her brassy demeanor and
Teflon exterior, this feature directing debut for vet docu producer Chiemi
Karasawa (‘The Betrayal,’ ‘Tell Them Anything You Want’) should earn wide fest
and ancillary exposure, plus limited theatrical, where it will prove catnip to
the cabaret crowd and those entranced by the artistry of great performers.”
Sacred Heart alums include many who have
achieved fame and accolades as writers, actors, humanitarians, journalists,
artists, business leaders, philanthropists, educators and religious. Each in
her chosen field – whether overtly or covertly – is living the Sacred Heart
mission of empowerment, service and leadership.
Elaine Stritch – a Sacred Heart girl who has
touched the lives and hearts of millions. ###
Note: The above article was originally written for the Summer 2013 issue ofEsprit de Coeur Magazine.The Duchesne Residence School of the Sacred Heartwas located at 7 East 91st Street in New York (formerly the James A. and Florence Sloane Burden house, a 38-room mansion) and opened in 1940 in the building next to the Academy. The school offered post-secondary instruction in social and secretarial skills as well as early childhood education. The Duchesne Residence School at 91st Street closed in 1966, and the younger students moved into the space.