Dena Dietrich, Who Discovered TV Fame as Mom Nature, Dies at 91
“Sure, child, sure,” she murmurs to the animal in a single scene. “All these unhealthy individuals.”
Deanne Frances Dietrich was born on Dec. 4, 1928, in Pittsburgh, the daughter of Mahlon Lloyd Dietrich, an electrician, and Helen (Wilson) Dietrich. After graduating from West View Excessive Faculty, she studied performing at HB Studios and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.
She appeared in quite a lot of Off Broadway productions, amongst them “The Rimers of Eldritch” (1967), a homicide drama by Lanford Wilson, on the Cherry Lane Theater.
What would have been her Broadway debut — “The Freaking Out of Stephanie Blake” (1967), a generation-gap comedy — closed in previews, reportedly as a result of its Hollywood star, Jean Arthur, was unwell. Ms. Dietrich’s first official Broadway look was additionally transient: “Right here’s The place I Belong,” a musical primarily based on John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden,” opened and closed on March 3, 1968.
Then her luck modified. Ms. Dietrich performed a smart older sister in Mike Nichols’s Broadway manufacturing of Neil Simon’s “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” (1971). The play, starring Peter Falk and Lee Grant as Manhattanites struggling by means of a foul financial system, ran for nearly two years and received two Tony Awards.
Stay theater was a long-running side of Ms. Dietrich’s profession. She usually informed the story of being the understudy for Lillian Roth, who was taking part in Fanny Brice’s mom, in a nationwide tour of “Humorous Woman” in 1965. Ms. Roth made a behavior of disappearing shortly earlier than curtain time — or throughout intermission. Generally she got here again. Ms. Dietrich realized to make fast costume modifications.
In 2005, Ms. Dietrich was a Russian grandmother in “On the Seashore Home,” a drama by Aram Saroyan, in Los Angeles. Terry Morgan, reviewing the play in Selection, didn’t assume a lot of it however gave not less than one solid member strong reward. “Dietrich is sort of good because the grandmother, who’s manufactured from more durable stuff than her descendants,” Mr. Morgan wrote, “and her mixture of kindness with a touch of metal brings the character to life.”
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