Ann Wedgeworth Biography

Ann Wedgeworth, a critically acclaimed American actress, made a name for herself in movies, plays, and television shows. Known for her roles as Merleen Elldridge in ‘Evening Shade’ and Lana Shields in ‘Three’s Company’, Wedgeworth’s talent and versatility were recognized with two NSFC Award nominations and a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress. With a career spanning several decades, she made her film debut in ‘Andy’ (1965) and continued to impress in supporting roles. Wedgeworth’s last appearance was in ‘The Hawk Is Dying’ (2006), showcased at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. Married twice and the mother of two daughters, both of whom followed in her footsteps as actors.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Elizabeth Ann Wedgeworth
  • Died At Age: 83
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Ernie Martin (m. 1970), Rip Torn (m. 1955–1961)
    • Father: Cortus Wedgeworth
    • Mother: Elizabeth Wedgeworth
    • Children: Danae Torn, Dianna Martin
  • Born Country: United States
  • Actresses
  • American Women
  • Died on: November 16, 2017
  • Place of death: New York City, New York, U.S.
  • U.S. State: Texas
  • More Facts
  • Education: University of Texas at Austin

Childhood & Early Life

Ann Wedgeworth was born on January 21, 1934, in Abilene, Texas, U.S., to Elizabeth Wedgeworth and Cortus Wedgeworth. Her father was a school teacher. She did her graduation from the Highland Park School in Texas. At this school she was also Jayne Mansfield’s classmate. Ann dropped the first name Elizabeth after she graduated in 1957 from University of Texas. She then moved to New York City and was finally admitted to The Actors Studio after several auditions.

Theatre Career

Ann Wedgeworth first made her foray into theater with her Broadway debut in ‘Make a Million’ in 1958. She then starred in several Broadway and off-Broadway productions that included ‘Blues for Mister Charlie’, ‘Period of Adjustment’, ‘Thieves’ and ‘The Last Analysis’. She then appeared in ‘A Lie of the Mind’ by Sam Shepard, with co-stars Geraldine Page and Harvey Keitel at the Promenade Theatre in New York. This ran from December 5, 1985 to June 1, 1986.

Movie Career

Ann Wedgeworth also ventured into movies and made her movie debut with the film ‘Andy’ in 1965. She played the female lead against actor Gene Hackman in the film ‘Scarecrow’ in 1973. She played supporting roles in various movies such as ‘Law and Disorder’, ‘Bang the Drum Slowly’, ‘Thieves’ and ‘One Summer Love’. She appeared with her former husband, Rip Torn, in the movie ‘Birch Interval’ in 1976. In the 1980s, she played supporting roles in movies such as ‘No Small Affair’ and ‘Made in Heaven’. She then portrayed Aunt Fern in ‘Steel Magnolias’ in 1989. Ann also appeared in two movies opposite Renée Zellweger: ‘The Whole Wide World’ and ‘Love and a .45’. She was also seen in the ‘The Hawk Is Dying’ opposite Paul Giamatti.

Television Career

Ann Wedgeworth has also done several television series throughout the years and had many key performances on soap operas. She acted as ‘Angie’ Talbot on the show ‘The Edge of Night’. The sitcom ran from 1966 to 1967 after which she joined the show ‘Another World’ where she played the character of Lahoma Vale Lucas. This show lasted from 1967 to 1970. She also appeared in its spinoff ‘Somerset’ from 1970 to 1973. She was then given the role of Lana Shields on the popular television show ‘Three’s Company’ in 1979. She appeared in nine episodes of this series and her character was written off without any explanation. Ann then starred with Linda Bloodworth-Thomason in the comedy series, ‘Filthy Rich’, in 1982, where she played good-natured Bootsie Westchester. She guest-starred as Audrey Conner, Dan Conner’s mother on the ABC show, ‘Roseanne’ in 1989. Ann’s longest television role was on the CBS show ‘Evening Shade’ where she starred as Merleen Eldridge. This was on air from 1990 to 1994. She also starred in the Evening Shade spin-off called ‘Harlan & Merleen’ in 1989 but it was unsuccessful.

Major Works

Ann Wedgeworth portrayed several characters in various successful movies and shows but she was mainly known for her role as Lana Shields in the show ‘Three’s Company’ as well as her role as Merleen Eldridge on the CBS show ‘Evening Shade’ that aired from 1990 to 1994. She was also recognized for her role in the ‘The Hawk is Dying’ with costar Paul Giamatti.

Awards & Achievements

In 1977, Ann Wedgeworth was awarded the Best Supporting Actress by the National Society of Film Critics for the movie Handle with Care’. She won the Best Actress (Featured Role – Play) 1978 Tony Award for her role in ‘Chapter Two’. She won a Drama Desk Award for the play ‘A Lie of the Mind’ in 1986.

Personal Life & Legacy

Ann Wedgeworth married actor, Rip Torn, in 1955. She gave birth to a daughter, Danae Torn, also an actress. The couple divorced in 1961. In 1970, she married Ernie Martin, an acting teacher and director. She gave birth to a daughter, Dianna Martin, who is an acting teacher/actress/writer. Ann Wedgeworth died on November 16, 2017, in New York City. She was 83.

Leave a Comment