Mary Elizabeth Hartman (December 23, 1943 – June 10, 1987) was an American actress of the stage and screen. She is best known for her debut performance in the 1965 film ''A Patch of Blue
'', playing a blind girl named Selina D'Arcy, opposite Sidney Poitier
, a role for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress
and a Golden Globe Award
for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. The next year, she appeared in Francis Ford Coppola
's ''You're a Big Boy Now
'' as Barbara Darling, for which she was nominated for a second Golden Globe Award
. Hartman also starred opposite Clint Eastwood
and Geraldine Page
in Don Siegel's ''The Beguiled
'', and the 1973 film ''Walking Tall''
. On stage, Hartman was best known for her interpretations of Laura Wingfield in ''The Glass Menagerie
'', for which she won Ohio's "Actress of the Year" award, and Emily Webb in the 1969 Broadway production of ''Our Town
Hartman retired from acting in 1982 after voicing the character of Mrs. Brisby in Don Bluth
's first animated feature, ''The Secret of NIMH
Mary Elizabeth Hartman was born December 23, 1943, in Youngstown, Ohio
, the daughter of Claire (née
Mullaly; 1918–1997) and B.C. Hartman (1914–1964). She had a sister, Janet, and a brother, William.
She was a standout dramatic student at Boardman High School
, where she graduated in 1961. She won a statewide award for best actress in a high school production for her performance as Laura in ''The Glass Menagerie
''. She performed in several productions at the Youngstown Playhouse
during her youth, including ''A Clearing in the Woods'' by Arthur Laurents
and ''Our Town''. She attended Carnegie Mellon University
, where she met her future husband, Gill Dennis
, and spent her summers acting with the Kenley Players
Hartman also performed at the Cleveland Playhouse
in several productions, including ''The Madwoman of Chaillot
'' and ''Bus Stop
''. She was encouraged to move to New York City
and begin auditioning for plays there. In 1964, Hartman was signed to play the ingénue lead in the comedy ''Everybody Out, the Castle is Sinking'', which was not a success, however her performance was again positively received, and film producers took notice.
In 1964, Hartman was screen-tested by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Brothers.
In the early autumn of 1964, she was offered a leading role in ''A Patch of Blue'', opposite Sidney Poitier and Shelley Winters. The role won widespread critical acclaim for Hartman, a fact proudly noted by the news media in her hometown. During this time, her father, who worked in construction, died. The role also won an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for Hartman. At the time of her nomination in 1966, Elizabeth Hartman (who was 22 years old) was the youngest nominee ever in the Best Actress category. That same year, she received an achievement award from the National Association of Theater Owners. Hartman also won a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year for her performance. In 1966, she starred as Laura opposite Mercedes McCambridge as Amanda in a production of ''The Glass Menagerie'' in Pittsburgh.
In January 1967, columnist Dorothy Manners reported that Hartman had been cast in the role of Neely O'Hara in the movie version of ''Valley of the Dolls'', beating out some more famous Hollywood actresses. She was said to have won over director Mark Robson, who had been enthralled with her performance in ''You're a Big Boy Now''. However, the following month, it was announced that Oscar-winner Patty Duke had signed on to play Neely, albeit against her agent's advice.
Between the mid-1960s and early 1970s, Hartman appeared in three well-received films, two of which starred Broadway and Hollywood legend Geraldine Page, ''The Group'' (1966), ''You're a Big Boy Now'' (1966), and ''The Beguiled'' (1971). Portraying Pauline Mullins, the wife of former Sheriff Buford Pusser, she starred in the cult classic and major box office hit ''Walking Tall'' (1973). In 1975, Hartman starred in the premiere of Tom Rickman's play ''Balaam'', a play about political intrigue in Washington, D.C. The production was mounted in Old Town Pasadena, California, by the Pasadena Repertory Theatre located in The Hotel Carver. It was directed by Hartman's husband, Gill Dennis. In 1981, she starred in a touring production of ''Morning's at Seven'', but left the tour due to declining mental health. Her last on-screen performance was in 1981's horror-spoof, ''Full Moon High'', where she appeared as Miss Montgomery. In 1982 she appeared in the critically acclaimed animated film ''The Secret of NIMH'', wherein she voiced mouse heroine Mrs. Brisby. She was highly praised for her performance as Mrs. Brisby; however, this proved to be her last Hollywood film role.
Later years and death
Throughout much of her life, Hartman suffered from depression.
In 1978, she was treated at The Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1984, she divorced her husband, screenwriter Gill Dennis, after a five-year separation. In the last few years of her life, she gave up acting altogether and worked at a museum in Pittsburgh while receiving treatment for her condition at an outpatient clinic. In 1981, she returned to theater, portraying Myrtle Brown in a regional stage production of ''Morning's at Seven''. [ Her sister and caretaker, Janet, told the ''Los Angeles Times'':
On June 10, 1987, Hartman committed suicide by jumping from the window of her fifth floor apartment.] Earlier that morning, she had reportedly called her psychiatrist saying that she felt despondent. Hartman was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in her hometown.
* List of oldest and youngest Academy Award winners and nominees
Category:20th-century American actresses
Category:Actresses from Pittsburgh
Category:Actresses from Youngstown, Ohio
Category:American film actresses
Category:American stage actresses
Category:American voice actresses
Category:Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract players
Category:New Star of the Year (Actress) Golden Globe winners
Category:Suicides by defenestration
Category:Suicides by jumping in the United States
Category:Suicides in Pennsylvania
Category:People from Boardman, Ohio
Category:Actresses who committed suicide