Guest Author - Katy Cacolice
Actress Sandy Dennis is a relatively unknown name to many movie goers but she lead a dedication to the craft of 'method acting' throughout the length of her successful career in theatre and film.
Armed with the knowledge of what she gained from the Actor's Studio and drama teacher Uta Hagan, Dennis made her Broadway debut at twenty-one years old. Her debut as the roles of "Flirt" and "Beenie" in the William Inge drama "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs" (1957) lead her on a tour across the nation with the production. Dennis then worked in regional theater in such plays as "Bus Stop" and "Burning Bright," Dennis' made her film debut in "Splendor In The Grass" (1961). Dennis played "Kay," the instigator of "Deanie"'s (Natalie Wood) mental collapse. After, Dennis returned to the stage and did not make another film for half a decade. She garnered a coveted Theater World and Tony Award for her outstanding performance as social worker "Dr. Sandra Markowitz" in "A Thousand Clowns" (1962). A second consecutive Tony Award win would follow with Dennis' flirty turn in the comedy "Any Wednesday" (1964). Even though her interpretations of these characters were met with industry praise, the film roles would be handed over to Barbara Harris and Jane Fonda, respectively.
Dennis became an Academy-Award winner when she won for her supporting role as "Honey" in the drama, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", directed by Mike Nichols. Dennis would share the spotlight with leading actors Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, and fellow supporting actor, George Segal. The four-character film centers around two students who get a weekend-long glimpse of the enraged and violent relationship of a history professor "George"(Burton) and his hard-drinking wife "Martha"(Taylor). In a blunt comment towards her working relationship with Taylor and Burton, Dennis remarked, "I don't really like people much. I mean, I know I should develop this passion for other people and, like, get to know them, but I couldn't care less."
Two of Dennis' many next characters to harness and hone in were much lighter-weight. In the romantic drama "Sweet November" (1968), which was about the meeting of a businessman and a quirky woman who convinces him to spend a month with her on the promise that she will transform his life. Dennis was then paired up with Jack Lemmon in "The Out of Towners" (1970). They played a suburban couple visiting New York City and are plagued by numerous disasters. In one dangerous situation where the couple is getting robbed, Dennis, in her best whiny tone, comments, "Oh, my god...I think we're being kidnapped." The duo would both be nominated for Golden Globes, but struck out to win.
Dennis' signature acting style laid not only in her throat gulps, nervous giggles and eye twitches but also within the way the native Nebraskan phrased her lines. The Broadway critic Walter Kerr once famously noted, "Let me tell you about Sandy Dennis. There should be one in every home."