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Carlin Glynn, Actress Whose Comeback Brought Her a Tony, Dies at 83

Stage actress Karlyn Glynn returns to Footlight after a long vacation to raise her children, sings on stage for the first time and walks out with a Tony Award for playing Madame in 1978 hit “The Best Little” bottom. A Texas prostitute died on July 13 at her Hudson Valley home in upstate New York. She was 83 years old.

Her daughter, actress Mary Stuart Masterson, said the cause was lung cancer.

The 38-year-old Glynn’s breakout performance came almost by chance. Her husband, actor-director Peter Masterson, found the material for the musical after reading a 1974 Playboy article about the closure of a Texas brothel by Larry L. King. He and Mr. King began working on the script and brought in Carroll Hall to compose the music.

In her early readings, Glynne played Mona Stanley, the strong-willed yet sensitive madam at the center of the story, despite having largely stayed out of acting for at least a decade. She was still playing the role in a 1977 workshop production by Mr. Masterson and his collaborators at Actors Studio. And when the musical opened off-Broadway in April 1978 and moved to Broadway in June of the same year.

“At first, I was working on this play just to help out,” Glynne told The New York Times in July 1978. “Peter was hesitant to push his wife as a collaborator. Finally, all four of the bodies that wanted to bring this show to Broadway wanted me to stay in the role. I stopped worrying about nepotism.”

This was her Broadway debut and won her a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. She played the role for almost two years on Broadway and another six months in the London production. The Guardian’s Michael Billington described her there, saying, “Karlyn Glynne has the sophisticated upbringing of a very classy and expensive American all-girls school principal, with a hint of romantic loneliness. I gave it to Madame,” he wrote.

“The Best Little Whorehouse” was Ms. Glynne’s only Broadway appearance, but her acting career spanned decades. She has performed in productions such as Manhattan’s Second Stage and Signature Theater Company, Hartford Stage in Connecticut, Houston’s Alley Theater and Chicago’s Goodman Theater. She has also appeared in more than 20 television shows, including ‘Continental Divide’ (1981), ‘Sixteen Candles’ (1984), ‘Journey to Bountiful’ (1985, directed by Masterson) and ‘Judy Berlin’. starred in series and films. (1999).

In 1979, she told The Times that the Tony Awards were a game-changer for her.

“I mean, I’ve been invited to hundreds of places by people who would drop me a car and pick me up,” she says. “It also means that I’m not just a girl playing Madame Texas in a musical. I’m a human being who is considered an actress.”

Carlyn Elizabeth Glynn was born on February 19, 1940 in Cleveland to Guildford and Lois Wilkes Glynn. Her father worked for Union Carbide, but when Carlin was nine, her family moved to Texas, where they purchased a gas station in Centerville, north of Houston.

The family then moved to Houston, where Ms. Glynn first met Tommy Tune at Lamar High School. A few years later, Tommy Tune choreographed and directed “The Best Little Whorehouse” alongside Mr. Masterson.

Glynn and Masterson met while both were apprentices at the Alley Theater. They married in 1960 and settled in New York. Both became members of the Actors Studio, but Glynne spent much of her time caring for her three children while Masterson built his career. She appeared in occasional television commercials, and in the mid-1970s she co-hosted the television show Today’s Health, and in the 1975 film Three Days of the Condor she had a minor role. rice field.

When The Best Little Whorehouse was being made into a movie, Glynne said in a 1978 interview with The Times that she wanted to play Mona on screen, but “probably won’t be asked.” Admitted. she was right Even more famous Dolly Parton won the role. This film was released in his 1982.

Masterson passed away in 2018. Glynne has a daughter, Mary Stuart, who starred in films like Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) and Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), and another daughter. Carlin is left behind. Alexandra Masterson. son Peter Masterson. Brother Philip Glynn. and six grandchildren.

Mary Stuart Masterson remembers spending the weekend watching her mother from the backstage at The Best Little Whorehouse. One night, Glynn started a song too high an octave, but halfway through the song she not only slipped in the impromptu lyric, “I think she’s out of key,” but also the rhyming part. I readily admitted that I was wrong.

“After that, the audience was in the palm of her hand,” Masterson said in an email. “Well, they already were. She had a kind of authority on stage that you couldn’t learn. She always made everyone feel like they were okay.”

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