Elizabeth Wilson
Wilson in 2011
Elizabeth Welter Wilson

(1921-04-04)April 4, 1921
DiedMay 9, 2015(2015-05-09) (aged 94)
Years active1953–2012

Elizabeth Welter Wilson (April 4, 1921 – May 9, 2015) was an American actress whose career spanned nearly 70 years, including memorable roles in film and television. In 1972 she won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her role in Sticks and Bones. Wilson was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2006.[1][2][3]

Early life

Wilson was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the daughter of insurance agent Henry Dunning Wilson and Marie Ethel (née Welter) Wilson.[3] Her maternal grandfather was a wealthy German immigrant, and Wilson was raised in a large mansion.[4][5] She attended the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, and then studied with Sanford Meisner at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York City.

According to Wilson, she was a lifelong liberal Democrat and she adhered to the Methodist faith.[6]


Wilson was a versatile character actress, appearing in over 30 movies and many Broadway plays. The Los Angeles Times noted: "Tall and elegant, Wilson often played women who had or sought authority."[7]

Wilson made her Broadway debut in Picnic in 1953. Her stage credits include Desk Set (1955), The Good Woman of Szechuan (1970), Sticks and Bones (1972), Uncle Vanya (1973), Threepenny Opera (1976), The Importance of Being Earnest (1977), Morning's at Seven (1980), You Can't Take It with You (1983), Ah, Wilderness! (1988), and A Delicate Balance (1996).[8]

Wilson made her screen debut reprising her stage role in the 1955 film adaptation of Picnic as Christine Schoenwalder.[9] Additional films include Patterns (1956), The Goddess (1958),[10] The Tunnel of Love (1958),[11] A Child Is Waiting (1963,[12] The Birds (1963),[13] The Graduate (1967),[14] Jenny (1970), Catch-22 (1970)[15] Little Murders (1971), The Day of the Dolphin (1973),[16] Man on a Swing (1974), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975),[17] 9 to 5 (1980),[18] Grace Quigley (1984),[19] Regarding Henry (1991),[20] The Addams Family (1991),[21] and Quiz Show (1994).[22] Her last film role was as Sara Delano Roosevelt in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012).[23]

Wilson's television credits include early anthology series such as Kraft Television Theatre, The United States Steel Hour, and Armstrong Circle Theatre. She was a regular on the primetime drama East Side/West Side and the sitcom Doc, and appeared in Dark Shadows, The Secret Storm, Another World, All in the Family, Murder, She Wrote, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. She also appeared in television movies, including The Boys Next Door (1996).[24] She appeared in the miniseries Nutcracker: Money, Madness and Murder in March 1987 as the mother of Frances Schreuder (played by Lee Remick),[25] as well as the miniseries Alex Haley's Queen.


On May 9, 2015, at age 94, Wilson died at her home in New Haven, Connecticut. She is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her parents.



Year Title Role Notes
1955 Picnic Christine Schoenwalder
1956 Patterns Marge Fleming
1958 The Goddess Harding
1958 The Tunnel of Love Miss MacCracken
1959 Happy Anniversary Millie
1963 A Child Is Waiting Miss Fogarty
1963 The Birds Helen Carter
1967 The Graduate Mrs. Braddock
1970 Jenny Mrs. Marsh
1971 Little Murders Marjorie Newquist
1973 The Day of the Dolphin Mrs. Rome
1974 Man on a Swing Dr. Anna Willson
1975 The Prisoner of Second Avenue Pauline
1975 The Happy Hooker Mrs. Gordon
1980 9 to 5 Roz
1981 The Incredible Shrinking Woman Dr. Ruth Ruth
1984 Grace Quigley Emily Watkins
1986 Where Are the Children? Dorothy Prentiss
1987 The Believers Kate Maslow
1989 Nora's Christmas Gift Madeline Mumford Video
1991 Regarding Henry Jessica
1991 The Addams Family Abigail Craven / Dr Pinder-Schloss
1994 Quiz Show Dorothy Van Doren
1994 Nobody's Fool Nora
2001 Rocky Road Grandma Louise
2012 Hyde Park on Hudson Sara Roosevelt


Year Title Role Notes
1954, 1959–60 The United States Steel Hour Mrs. Watson, Grace Ferguson, Cora Wylie Episodes: "Welcome Home", "The Pink Burro", "Queen of the Orange Bowl"
1955 Kraft Television Theatre Marge Fleming Episode: "Patterns"
1956 Star Tonight Ma Kirby Episode: "Happy Journey"
1960 Interpol Calling Michele Episode: "The Girl with Grey Hair"
1960 The Detectives Beatrice Faustina Episode: "Song of Songs"
1961 Armstrong Circle Theatre Esther Harding Episode: "Black Market Babies"
1963–1964 East Side/West Side Frieda Hechlinger Main role
1965 The Nurses Dr. Lanz Episode: "Sixteen Hours to Chicago"
1966 Dark Shadows Mrs. Hopewell Episodes: "1.1", "1.8"
1969 NET Playhouse Miss Moray Episode: "Let Me Hear You Whisper"
1970 The Secret Storm Felicia Stringer TV series
1974 Another April Ruth Weston TV film
1975 Miles to Go Before I Sleep Kate Stanton TV film
1975 All in the Family Amelia DeKuyper Episode: "Amelia's Divorce"
1975 The Easter Promise Mrs. Coyle TV film
1975–1976 Doc Annie Bogert Main role (season 1)
1979 Another World Ethel Banta Episode: "1.3746"
1979 Sanctuary of Fear Mrs. Glidden TV film
1980 Once Upon a Family Norma Solomon TV film
1982 Million Dollar Infield Sally Ephron TV film
1982 Tucker's Witch Jewel Porter Episode: "Big Mouth"
1982 Morning's at Seven Aaronetta Gibbs TV film
1984 Great Performances Penny Sycamore Episode: "You Can't Take It with You"
1986 Morningstar/Eveningstar Kathy Kelly TV series, 7 episodes
1987 Nutcracker: Money, Madness and Murder Berenice Bradshaw TV miniseries
1987 A Conspiracy of Love Lilly Woldarski TV film
1990 Burning Bridges Freda TV film
1993 Skylark Harriet Wheaton TV film
1993 Delta Rosiland Dupree Episodes: "Mom Comes to Town", "Amateur Night", "Red Hot Mama", "Delta's Little Dilemma"
1994 In the Best of Families: Marriage, Pride & Madness Annie Klenner TV film
1994 Spring Awakening Mrs. Pierson TV film
1994 Scarlett Eulalie Robillard TV miniseries
1995 Murder, She Wrote Serena Haynes Episode: "Home Care"
1996 The Boys Next Door Mary Fremus TV film
1996 Special Report: Journey to Mars President Elizabeth Richardson TV film
1997 Dellaventura Eloise Berg Episode: "Clean Slate"
1998 Promised Land Evelyn Hooper Episode: "Recycled"
2000 Gideon's Crossing Camellia Kellogg Episode: "Father Knows Best"
2002 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Lucille Mobray Episode: "Chinoiserie"

Awards and nominations



  1. ^ Belcher, David (May 10, 2015). "Elizabeth Wilson, a Vivid Actress in Many Character Roles, Dies at 94". The New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  2. ^ Gans, Andrew. "LuPone, Hearn, Wilson and the Late Wasserstein and Wilson Among Theater Hall of Fame Inductees", playbill.com, October 10, 2006.
  3. ^ a b "Elizabeth Wilson Biography (1921-)". FilmReference.com. Advameg, Inc.
  4. ^ Goldberg, Bonnie (July 17, 2014). "Well-Played". Daily Nutmeg. New Haven, Connecticut. Retrieved May 11, 2015.
  5. ^ Jean, Pat Grand. "First Q&A: Elizabeth Wilson" Connecticut Magazine, April 2012
  6. ^ An Interview With Elizabeth Wilson, Skip E. Lowe, 1992
  7. ^ Chawkins, Steve. "Elizabeth Wilson dies at 94; actress often played women of authority", Los Angeles Times, May 11, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Elizabeth Wilson Broadway Credits", playbillvault.com, accessed May 11, 2015
  9. ^ Picnic Overview, Cast and Crew, tcm.com; accessed May 11, 2015.
  10. ^ " The Goddess Cast and Crew", allmovie.com, accessed May 13, 2015.
  11. ^ " The Tunnel of Love Cast and Crew", tcm.com, accessed May 13, 2015.
  12. ^ " A Child Is Waiting Cast and Crew", allmovie.com, accessed May 13, 2015.
  13. ^ " The Birds Cast and Crew", tcm.com, accessed May 14, 2015.
  14. ^ " The Graduate Cast and Crew", tcm.com, accessed May 12, 2015.
  15. ^ " Catch-22 Cast and Crew", tcm.com, accessed May 14, 2015.
  16. ^ " The Day of the Dolphin Cast and Crew", tcm.com, accessed May 12, 2015
  17. ^ Passafiume, Andrea. The Prisoner of Second Avenue, tcm.com, accessed May 12, 2015.
  18. ^ " Nine to Five Overview", tcm.com, accessed May 12, 2015.
  19. ^ Thomas, Kevin. "Movie Reviews. 'Quigley': Hepburn, Nolte Light Up A Black Comedy", articles.latimes.com, December 13, 1985; accessed May 12, 2015.
  20. ^ " Regarding Henry Cast and Crew", allmovie.com, accessed May 12, 2015
  21. ^ Staff."Review: 'The Addams Family'" Variety, December 31, 1990.
  22. ^ Quiz Show Overview, Cast and Crew, tcm.com, accessed May 11, 2015.
  23. ^ Hyde Park on Hudson Cast and Crew", allmovie.com, accessed May 11, 2015.
  24. ^ Horowitz, Lisa A. "Review: The Boys Next Door", Variety.com, February 4, 1996.
  25. ^ O'Connor, John J. "Murder, Reheated By a Star". The New York Times. March 22, 1987. p.H29
  26. ^ "Emmy Award Search. Elizabeth Wilson Nominations" Archived 2015-05-18 at the Wayback Machine, emmys.com, accessed May 12, 2015.