Bethel Leslie
Bethel Leslie in A Rage to Live trailer.jpg
Leslie in A Rage to Live (1965)
Born(1929-08-03)August 3, 1929
New York City, U.S.
DiedNovember 28, 1999(1999-11-28) (aged 70)
New York City, U.S.
OccupationActress, screenwriter
Years active1949–1999
Andrew McCullough
(m. 1953; div. 1964)
Children1 daughter

Jane Bethel Leslie (August 3, 1929 – November 28, 1999) was an American actress and screenwriter.[citation needed] In her career spanning half a century, she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award and a Laurel Award in 1964, a Tony Award in 1986, and a CableACE Award in 1988.

Early years

Bethel Leslie was born in New York, New York. Her parents were a lawyer, Warren Leslie,[1] and Jane Leslie,[1] a newspaperwoman.[2] Bethel was a student at Brearley School in New York City.[3]

While a 13-year-old student at Brearley School, Leslie was discovered by George Abbott,[2] who cast her in the play Snafu[4] in 1944. In a 1965 newspaper article, Leslie described herself as "a 'quick study' -- able to learn my lines rather fast."[5]


Over the next four decades she appeared in a number of Broadway productions, including Goodbye, My Fancy (1948), The Time of the Cuckoo (1952), Inherit the Wind (1955), Catch Me If You Can (1965), and Long Day's Journey Into Night (1986).

In 1950, Leslie was cast as Cornelia Otis Skinner in The Girls, a television series based on the author's Our Hearts Were Young and Gay. She departed the show after two months to appear with Helen Hayes in the play The Wisteria Trees, adapted from Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard by Joshua Logan.


Leslie began working in television in the 1940s[4] and frequently was a guest on the many anthology series popular in the early to mid-1950s, such as Studio One and Playhouse 90. She appeared with Ronald W. Reagan and Stafford Repp in the 1960 episode "The Way Home" of CBS's The DuPont Show with June Allyson. Later, she was one of the repertory of actors starring in The Richard Boone Show (1963-1964).[6]

Leslie made three guest appearances on Perry Mason, and was featured as Perry's client in all three episodes. In 1958, she played Janet Morris in "The Case of the Fugitive Nurse" and Evelyn Girard in "The Case of the Purple Woman". In 1960 she played Sylvia Sutton in "The Case of the Wayward Wife".

In 1962, she portrayed the part of Martha Hastings in the episode, "The Long Count", on CBS's Rawhide.

Leslie also guest starred in many western television series, including The Texan,[7] Mackenzie's Raiders (as Lucinda Cabot in "The Lucinda Cabot Affair"), The Man from Blackhawk, Riverboat, Wanted: Dead or Alive (episode "Secret Ballot"), Trackdown (episode "False Witness"), Bat Masterson, The Rifleman, Gunsmoke (as Elsa Poe in S10E12 episode “Innocence”, 1964), Maverick, Pony Express, Stagecoach West, Bonanza, The Wild Wild West, Have Gun - Will Travel with Richard Boone, and Wagon Train (Season 8, Episode 20). The Virginian (Season 1, Episode 23, “The Money Changer”).

Her other credits were on drama series, such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Richard Diamond, Private Detective and The Fugitive, both starring David Janssen; The Eleventh Hour, The Lloyd Bridges Show, Mannix, Route 66 (episodes "The Layout at Glen Canyon" and "City of Wheels"), Straightaway, Bus Stop, Target: The Corruptors!, The Investigators, The Man and the Challenge, Adventures in Paradise, Ben Casey, One Step Beyond, Thriller, Empire, and a later western, The High Chaparral.

Leslie became a regular on the NBC soap, The Doctors, when she took over the role of "Maggie Powers" after Ann Williams left the part. Leslie was also featured in the 1964 episode "The Fluellen Family" in the NBC western Daniel Boone, starring Fess Parker. She had recurring roles on Another World and All My Children and was featured in the television adaptations of In Cold Blood and Saint Maybe.


Leslie was the head writer for The Secret Storm in 1970. She also scripted episodes for Gunsmoke, Bracken's World, Barnaby Jones, McCloud, The New Land, Matt Helm, and Falcon Crest. In 1970, producer Howard Christie referred to Leslie as "a good actress who has turned into a fine scriptwriter."[8]


Leslie's debut in feature films came in 1964 in Captain Newman, M.D..[9] Her feature film credits include A Rage to Live (1965), The Molly Maguires (1970), with Sean Connery, Dr. Cook's Garden (1971), Old Boyfriends (1979), Ironweed (1987), Message in a Bottle (1999) and Uninvited (1999).

Year Title Role Notes
1959 The Rabbit Trap Abby Colt
1963 Captain Newman, M.D. Mrs. Helene Winston
1965 A Rage to Live Amy Hollister
1970 The Molly Maguires Mrs. Kehoe
1971 Dr. Cook's Garden Essie Bullitt TV movie
1979 Old Boyfriends Mrs. Van Til
1979 Beyond Death's Door
1987 Ironweed Librarian
1999 Message in a Bottle Marta
1999 Uninvited Mrs. Wentworth (final film role)

Partial Television Appearances

Year Title Role Notes
1958 Maverick Janet Kilmer Episode "The Thirty Ninth Star"
1959 Wanted Dead or Alive Carol Easter Episode "Secret Ballot"

Awards and recognition

Leslie was a regular on NBC's The Richard Boone Show, which garnered her an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for her work in the episode "Statement of Fact."[1] Media critic John Crosby wrote about Leslie's work in that anthology series, "During the season Bethel played everything from a seductive ax murderess to a dumb gangster's moll, to an Irish scrub woman, through a whole series of witchy mothers."[2]

A poll of media critics and editors named her Most Promising New Talent in Radio Television Daily's 1963 All-American Favorites—Television.[10]

Leslie's 1986 Broadway portrayal of a drug-addicted mother in Long Day's Journey into Night brought her a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress.[11]


Leslie was married to director Andrew McCullough.[3] They had one child, daughter Leslie McCullough.[12][9] She had a brother, writer Warren Leslie.[13]


Bethel Leslie died of cancer at 70[11] in her Manhattan apartment.

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1952 Theatre Guild on the Air The Wisteria Tree[14]
1952 Grand Central Station It Makes a Difference[15]


  1. ^ a b c Heimer, Mel (January 20, 1969). "Bethel's a Jacqueline of All Trades". The Daily Notes. p. 9. Retrieved May 28, 2015 – via open access
  2. ^ a b c Crosby, John (June 26, 1964). "Bethel Gets Chance To Show She's Sexy". The Manhattan Mercury. p. 5. Retrieved May 28, 2015 – via open access
  3. ^ a b Misurell, Ed (January 8, 1966). "'Soaps' Had a Solution for This Star". The Kane Republican. p. 8. Retrieved May 28, 2015 – via open access
  4. ^ a b Kramer, Carol (March 25, 1969). "Variety's Spice of Her Acting Life". Chicago Tribune. p. Section 2 - Page 15. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  5. ^ Lowry, Cynthia (December 26, 1965). "Quiet Changes Take Place In Daytime Soap Operas". The Corpus Christi Caller-Times. p. 82. Retrieved May 28, 2015 – via open access
  6. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 893. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  7. ^ "The Texan". Classic Television Archive. Archived from the original on April 8, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  8. ^ Browning, Norma Lee (January 18, 1970). "Joan Shines As 'Old' Pro On Virginian". Chicago Tribune. p. 2 - Section 10. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  9. ^ a b McKinley, Jesse (December 2, 1999). "Stage, screen actress Bethel Leslie dies at 70". Wilmington Morning Star. p. 4B. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  10. ^ Alicoate, Chas. A., Ed. (1964). Yearbook of Radio & Television. Radio Television Daily. P. 31.
  11. ^ a b "Tony-Nominated Actress Bethel Leslie, 70, is Dead". Playbill. November 30, 1999. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  12. ^ Blinn, Johna (February 23, 1969). "Try Bethel Leslie's Boeuf Bourguignon". The San Bernardino County Sun. p. 41. Retrieved May 28, 2015 – via open access
  13. ^ McKinley, Jesse (November 30, 1999). "Bethel Leslie, 70, an Actress In Theater, Television and Films". New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Leslie, Bethel". radioGOLDINdex. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  15. ^ Kirby, Walter (March 2, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 42. Retrieved May 28, 2015 – via open access