CDA: Phyllis Newman

September 26, 2019

Darling Phyllis Newman.  She won a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for *Subways Are For Sleeping.*  She won that over a newcomer named Barbra Streisand, who was stopping the show in *I Can Get It For You Wholesale.*  Newman was maybe (unfortunately) best known as the wife of Adolph Green, who worked with Betty Comden to write the lyrics and book for *On the Town,* *Wonderful Town,* *Bells Are Ringing,* many other Broadway shows, and the screenplay for *Singin' In the Rain.*  Newman said this about auditioning for her husband for *Subways Are For Sleeping*: "My husband watched me audition five times.  I was livid!  Believe me, this was the first time an actress got the part by NOT sleeping with the author."

 

Newman came from show business - - her mother worked as a fortuneteller on the Atlantic City boardwalk and her father was a hypnotist.  Newman's first job was doing a Carmen Miranda routine, at the age of four.

 

I saw Newman in performance just once.  I moved to New York in August of 2002, and had read in the NY Times about a series of performances at The Town Hall commemorating the anniversary of 9/11.  I looked at the line-up and bought tickets for three out of four of the performances.  Thankfully Newman was on one of them.  She sang "Some Other Time" from *On the Town* and I was a weepy mess, she sang it with such unbearable tenderness.

 

She was a cancer survivor and founded The Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative of the Actors Fund of America in 1995.  The initiative has raised more than US $3.5 million and served more than 2,500 women in the entertainment industry.

 

Here she is on The Tonight Show.  She comes on at 37:15 (you might also be interested to watch Diahann Carroll earlier in the show):

 

 

 

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