Carlin Glynn, who won a Tony Award for her performance as Madame Mona Stanley in The best little brothel in Texas and had strong supporting turns in movies sixteen candles And The Journey to Bountiful, is dead. She was 83 years old.
Glynn died July 13 after battles with dementia and cancer, her daughter, actress Mary Stuart Masterson (Grilled green tomatoes, Benny & Joon), announced in an Instagram post.
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“My mother, Carlin Glynn Masterson, passed away. I was with her. I will always be grateful for these final moments, no matter how hard it gets,” she wrote. “Death is like birth in the strangest way. From my first breath to its last. This thread is as fragile as it is strong.
“She was the most gracious clumsy person you could meet. Strong, intelligent, silly, intuitive, kind, generous, passionate and a deep listener. She was devoted to my father and the huge circle of students and collaborators who were considered her chosen family.
Glynn, who went to high school in Houston, and her late husband of 58, actor-director-screenwriter Peter Masterson, started doing workshops The best little brothel in Texas in the mid-1970s at The Actors Studio in New York. For the musical revolving around the closing of the real Chicken Ranch brothel, Masterson wrote the book with Larry L. King and co-directed with Tommy Tune.
“I first worked on the piece just to help,” Glynn recalled in a 1978 interview with The New York Times. “Peter was reluctant to impose his wife on his collaborators. Finally, the four organizations that wanted to take the show to Broadway wanted me to stay in the role. So I stopped worrying about nepotism.
With Glynn making her Broadway debut, Best little brothel debuted on Broadway in June 1978 and ran for over 1,500 performances. “For someone who had never sung before, Texas-raised Miss Glynn sings Western country songs like a pro and portrays Miss Mona as a complex, sensitive woman who has added dimensions beyond the stereotypical madam with a heart of gold,” the Time writing.
Glynn wanted to bring Mona to the big screen, but it was Dolly Parton who was hired to star alongside Burt Reynolds in Universal Pictures’ 1982 adaptation.
At Horton Foote The Journey to Bountiful (1985), which marked Masterson’s directorial debut, Glynn got to play Jessie Mae, the shrewd stepdaughter of Mrs. Watts (Geraldine Page in an Oscar-winning performance).
A year earlier, she and Paul Dooley played Molly Ringwald’s forgetful parents of Sam Baker in John Hughes. sixteen candles (1984).
Born in Cleveland on February 19, 1940, Glynn grew up in Center Point, Texas, where her father was a gas station owner and later mayor of the city. In Houston, she attended Lamar High School with Tune and met her future husband when they apprenticed at the Alley Theater. (Carol Hall, who composed the music and lyrics for Best little brothelwas also in the aisle at the time.)
At 19, Glynn traveled to New York, where she studied acting with Stella Adler and appeared in an off-Broadway production of Waltz of the Toreadors.
She and Masterson married in 1960, and while he built his acting career, appearing on Broadway in The Great White Hope and in films such as In the night heat (1967), The Exorcist (1973) and The Women of Stepford (1975), she puts hers aside to raise their children, Alexandra, Mary Stuart and Peter.
“I didn’t work for many years when I was raising my family. I really came back to acting in the last four years,” she said in 1978. “It was hard to get hired when you haven’t worked for a long time. However, what I did was work at The Actors Studio; it was terribly important to have a place to function and to be criticized by the Lee Strasbergs, the Elia Kazans of the world.
Glynn also appeared in commercials and made her film debut in Sydney Pollack’s Three days of the Condor (1975) before his resounding success in Best little brothel.
At Francis Ford Coppola’s stone gardens (1987), she, her husband, and Mary Stuart were all in the cast.
His big-screen resume also included Resurrection (1980), the continental divide (nineteen eighty one), The Escape Artist (1982), Blessing (1994) and Judy Berlin (1999), plus five other films directed by her husband: Blood red (1989), condemned (1991), West of here (2002), Lost Junction (2003) and whiskey school (2005).
Glynn also portrayed the first lady opposite George C. Scott in 1987-88 on one of the Fox network’s first shows, the sitcom Mister President.
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