Elizabeth Hartman

Elizabeth Hartman and Candice Bergen
Elizabeth Hartman and Candice Bergen
Elizabeth Hartman
Elizabeth Hartman

Elizabeth Hartman.

Elizabeth Hartman was born in 1943 in Youngstown, Ohio. She made a splendid movie debut in “A Patch of Blue” with Sidney Poitier and Shelley Winters. She went on make “The Group” with a bevy of marvellous actresses including Jessica Walter, Candice Bergen, Joan Hackett and Shirley Knight. In 1971 she gave a terrific performance in Don Siegel’s superb “The Beguiled” with Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page. Elizabeth Hartman sadly passed away in 1987 in Pittsburgh.

  Article on Elizabeth Hartman by Robert Temple can be accessed here.

Article in the “Los Angeles Times” by SANDRA HANSEN KONTE

PITTSBURGH — I can’t wait until I’m 45 and get all those great parts. –Elizabeth Hartman, in a 1971 interview.

The first reports of 43-year-old Elizabeth Hartman’s June 10 suicide here were sketchy. Homicide detectives weren’t sure just who the slight woman was who had thrown herself from the fifth-story window of her efficiency apartment. A handful of neighbors volunteered what they knew. She was an unemployed actress, they thought, who had starred long ago in some movie with Sidney Poitier.

She would have hated that description. Even though she was subsisting on disability insurance, Social Security benefits and family handouts, even though her days were spent with various psychiatrists or wandering through the Carnegie Art Museum or merely sitting, listening to records, when somebody asked Hartman what she did, she replied, “I’m a film actress.”

Some of her therapists thought that this was another of her fantasies. But she was.

In 1965, at age 21, she was nominated for a best-actress Academy Award in her movie debut as a blind girl in “A Patch of Blue” (but lost to Julie Christie in “Darling”). She won a Golden Globe Award for most promising female newcomer. She was voted one of 1966’s Stars of Tomorrow by the American Film Exhibitors. Columnist Hedda Hopper predicted glowingly that “those who watch her at work tell me she can’t miss.”

Biff Hartman (her nickname originated from her sister’s childhood inability to pronounce \o7 Elizabeth\f7 ) of Youngstown, Ohio, had gone West and taken on the city that had been the object of so many of her childhood dreams.

Elizabeth Hartman, 1966

And, in her own words, the city had won.

“All actresses are probably very paranoiac,” she once said in an interview with the New York Times, “and never accept the fact they’re good. You keep thinking: ‘Nobody wants me, I can’t get a job.’ That initial success beat me down. It spiraled me to a position where I didn’t belong. I was not ready for that.”

After she died, once co-star Poitier issued the following statement: “It saddens me to think she’s no longer with us. She was a wonderful actress and a truly gentle person. We have lost a distinguished artist.”

(Another “Patch of Blue” co-star, Shelley Winters, declined comment. Her spokesperson at International Creative Management offered, “She’s busy. She was asked to appear in a documentary about Marilyn Monroe and she turned that down, too.”)

(Calls by Calendar to the Warners Bros. representative for Clint Eastwood, who starred with Hartman in “The Beguilded,” were not returned.)

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette magazine editor George Anderson had a harder edge: “I think hers was a tragic American career that peaks at the beginning and has no follow-up. It’s a common Hollywood story.”

The headline in another Pittsburgh paper summed it up. “Failing Career/Mental Problems Blamed in Actress Suicide Here.”

Those closest to Hartman get angry when it is suggested that it was just her faltering movie career that propelled her out that window. “There’s so much more to it,” says her sister, Janet Shoop. “That’s what’s so hard for people to understand about mental illness. It’s not always outward. Hartman desperately wanted to resume her career. But, in the end, it was just too difficult for her to do so.”

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *