Tammy Grimes, Idol of the Early Sixties, Dies at 82

In her time, Tammy Grimes was known as a vivacious, talented actress and singer. With her energetic performances on Broadway and her uniquely raspy, low voice—its accent shaped by finishing schools and not, as many assumed, by a British upbringing—Ms. Grimes made a memorable impression on audiences. She passed away on October 30th and is survived by her daughter, actress Amanda Plummer.

Ms. Grimes won a Tony award in 1960 for “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” in which she played an ambitious saloon singer in a Colorado mining town who eventually became a hero after the sinking of the Titanic.

In a 1964 profile in the Saturday Evening Post, Ms. Grimes offered advice on how to comport oneself at the end of a Broadway tour:

Don’t smile at all. Carry a Colt .44 and shoot at anyone. Buy 10 bikinis; arrange for blood transfusions, oxygen tanks, wigs, fast cars to make fast getaways, a leading man who can charter planes and fly in blizzards. Assume Garbo-type privacy. Look worn out but brave. Think seriously of becoming the last of the big-time spenders.

She hoped to translate her talents to television, but made a legendarily regrettable choice. Offered the role of Samantha in the television comedy, “Bewitched,” she turned it down, preferring to star in her own sitcom, “The Tammy Grimes Show.” Bewitched became a hit series, running for eight years. “The Tammy Grimes Show” was judged so bad that the network cancelled it after just one month. It was an unprecedented move in an era when even awful programs were allowed to finish their season.

But all that still lay ahead of Ms. Grimes when this article appeared in 1964, and she was still a rising star, enjoying a sense of great promise and the admiration of critics.

Tammy Grimes Article
Read this profile of Tammy Grimes from the pages of the April 4, 1964 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Photos by Philippe Halsman.