Betty Buckley Biography

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Betty Lynn Buckley, 3 July 1947, Fort Worth, Texas, USA. Encouraged by a mother who was a singer and dancer, Buckley became attracted to the musical theatre after seeing The Pajama Game when she was 11 years old. Nevertheless, she graduated with a BA degree in journalism from Texas Christian College, as well as studying voice and acting, and then worked in regional theatre before making her Broadway debut as Martha Jefferson in the musical 1776 in 1969. Having moved to London, in 1969 she starred in the West End production of Neil Simon’s Promises, Promises, which had a score by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Back in New York in the 70s and 80s, she mixed straight roles with appearances at various times in musicals such as Pippin, I’m Getting My Act Together And Taking It On The Road, The Mystery Of Edwin Drood, and Song And Dance, and in 1983 won a Tony Award for her performance as Grizabella in Cats. From the security of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s longest-running musical to date, five years later Buckley played Margaret White, the fanatically religious mother, in Carrie, one of the most famous flops in Broadway history, which closed after only five performances. Coincidentally, she had played the role of the gym teacher, Miss Collins, in Stephen King’s 1976 movie of Carrie. She has made several other movies, including Tender Mercies (1983) and Wyatt Earp (1994), but is probably best known on screen as the kidnapped wife in the Roman Polanski’s Frantic (1988). In 1994, Buckley renewed her Lloyd Webber connection and succeeded Patti LuPone as the fading movie queen Norma Desmond in the revised London production of Sunset Boulevard. During the run she starred as Desirée, with Keith Michell as Fredrik, in a BBC Radio 2 recording of A Little Night Music. She also featured in another broadcast, Betty Buckley In Concert, for the same radio station, before taking over the lead from Glenn Close in the Broadway production of Sunset Boulevard in July 1995. In addition to a permanently heavy concert schedule, including a sell-out date at Carnegie Hall in 1996, during the late 90s Buckley appeared on Broadway in the short-lived Triumph Of Love (1997), and led the cast, as Rose, in a 1998 revival of Gypsy at the Paper Mill Playhouse, New Jersey.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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