Gloria Vanderbilt – heiress, artist, actress and fashion designer – died today, June 17 at the age of 95.

A search of the Times-Tribune Archives turned up a great deal of information on Vanderbilt. Most dealt with the custody battle between her mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, and her aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, in 1934.

But there were two interesting articles from the 1950s that dealt with her acting career. In 1954, Vanderbilt made her stage debut at the Pocono Playhouse in Mountainhome acting in the play, “The Swan” by Ferenc Molnar in August 1954. 

Theater advertisement

A Pocono Playhouse advertisement from the July 26, 1954 edition of The Scranton Times announcing the stars to be seen that summer at the theater. In addition to Gloria Vanderbilt, there was Gypsy Rose Lee, Patricia Benoit, Charles Coburn, Peter Donat, Edward Everett Horton and Sara Haden. Times-Tribune Archives

The review in the Scranton Times gave the 30-year old actress who at the time was married to conductor Leopold Stokowski high marks for her debut.

After the show, Vanderbilt spoke with the Times. She said of her stage debut “everyone has been so kind and helpful .. a marvelous experience .. there were moments when I wasn’t sure I’d make it … what else can I say.”   

Theater advertisement

A Pocono Playhouse advertisement from the Aug. 27, 1956 edition of The Scranton Times promoting the current production of “The Bad Seed” starring Louise Allbritton and announcing the upcoming show “The Spa” starring Gloria Vanderbilt, Turhan Bey and Violet Heming. Times-Tribune Archives

Two years later, Vanderbilt returned to the Mountainhome stage to star in another play. This time she starred in “The Spa” by Edward Chodorov in September 1956.

Speaking with the Times again she said “there’s nothing quite like appearing before a live audience. But, at the same time, nothing more demanding.”

Just weeks before here appearance in “The Spa”, Vanderbilt married director Sindey Lumet. She divorced from Stokowski in 1955. Asked about their honeymoon, she said “naturally, our honeymoon has to be on a delayed basis. Things have been in such a whirl we haven’t even had a chance to figure where or when.”

With stars on the stage, there was a major star in the in the audience on opening night of “The Spa.” Playwright and actor Noel Coward was in attendance. Following the performance, Coward posed for a photo with Vanderbilt, the playhouse’s owner Rowena Stevens, and Turhan Bey.

two men, two women standing in a row

Noel Coward, British playwright and actor, paid surprise visit to see Gloria Vanderbilt at the Pocono Playhouse in Mountainhome. She was appearing with Turhan Bey in a new pay by Edward Chodorov in September 1956. Shown from left: Turhan Bey, Noel Coward, Gloria Vanderbilt and Rowena Stevens, owner-producer of the Pocono Playhouse. Times-Tribune Archives

Vanderbilt according to her obituary would continue to act. She would star in several television programs such as “Playhouse 90” and “Studio One” and on Broadway in “The Time of Your Life.”