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.
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.”
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.
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.”
Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 14 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He is also the co-host of the local history podcast, Historically Hip. He competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast