Eva Marie Saint to return to BGSU for theater dedication


BOWLING GREEN, O.—Bowling Green State University alumna Eva Marie Saint will once again play the “leading lady” when she returns to campus Oct. 13 and 14 for the dedication of a new theatre named in her honor.

She and her husband, producer/director Jeffrey Hayden, will celebrate the relocation of the theatre from University Hall, where she began her acting career as a student, to BGSU’s new Wolfe Center for the Arts. During their weekend visit, the couple will also take part in a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the film careers of Lillian and Dorothy Gish, on Oct. 14 — Lillian Gish’s birthday.

Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards will proclaim Oct. 13 Eva Marie Saint Day and Oct. 14 Lillian Gish Day in the city. BGSU presented Saint the Distinguished Alumna Award in 1980 and an honorary doctorate of performing arts in 1982.

The Eva Marie Saint Theatre dedication will begin at 1 p.m. Oct. 13 in the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre in the Wolfe Center, followed by a reception in the lobby. The event is free and open to the public.

Saint will speak at the ceremony. Invited guests include President Mary Ellen Mazey; first-year theatre major Natalie Golz of Rocky River, recipient of this year’s Eva Marie Saint Scholarship; and James Frasher, longtime manager of Lillian Gish, with whom Saint starred in the 1953 television production of “The Trip to Bountiful.” Gish and Saint reprised their roles on Broadway the following year, earning Saint the Drama Critics Award and the Outer-Circle Critics Award.

On Sunday at 3 p.m., Frasher will present the Gishes’ 1912 debut film, “An Unseen Enemy” and the only recorded film version of “Lillian Gish and the Movies”(1975), the program in which Frasher toured with Lillian Gish throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. Seen by curator Dr. Ralph Haven Wolfe in 1975, the program inspired him to make the Gish Film Theater and Gallery a reality at BGSU in 1976. The program is also free and open to the public.

Saint has had a distinguished career on stage and television and in film, appearing in more than 161 productions and performing with actors such as Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Lillian Gish, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Cary Grant; and directors Elia Kazan, Alfred Hitchcock, Norman Jewison, Otto Preminger and Fred Zinneman.

Her many honors include an Academy Award for "On the Waterfront" and a 1990 Emmy for her role in "People Like Us." She received three more nominations for her work in television, and has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Still active in acting, she will be soon begin production of “A Winter’s Tale,” co-starring Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay (“Downton Abbey”), William Hurt, Russell Crowe and Will Smith.

After their 1982 visit, Saint and Hayden, who was presented an honorary doctor of arts from BGSU in 1991 when he showed his documentary “Primary Colors,” returned again to campus in 2001 to perform in A.R. Gurney’s two-character play "Love Letters" as a benefit for her scholarship fund and to celebrate the silver anniversary of the Gish Film Theater.

They returned in 2007 to present “On the Divide: An Afternoon with Willa Cather,” also to benefit the scholarship and in honor of the late Dr. Elden Smith, who is credited with inspiring her to pursue acting.

Saint, who followed her older sister to BGSU, was majoring in elementary education when her Delta Gamma sorority adviser urged her to try out for the play “Personal Appearance.” As the story goes, Smith–who was the sorority adviser's husband–needed a girl who looked like an actress. Saint, the Skol Sweater Swing Queen, Pi Kappa Alpha Dream Girl, The Key Beauty Queen and May Queen, won the part. She enrolled in one of Smith’s introductory theatre courses, auditioned for other plays and switched her major to theatre.

Hayden's credits include some of television's most successful comedies, including the Andy Griffith and Donna Reed shows, plus numerous dramas including "Route 66," "Mannix" and "Peyton Place." He has received awards for his documentaries, including the PBS production "Children in America's Schools with Bill Moyers." He is also a prolific theatre director, with productions in New York and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

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(Posted October 09, 2012 )