Oscar Actors: Dennis, Sandy

Born Sandra Dale Dennis on April 27, 1937 in Hastings, Nebraska; died in 1992.

After some experience in local stock, Dennis headed for New York and the Actors Studio and soon began appearing in offBroadway plays. In 1961, she made her screen debut, playing a supporting role in Elia Kazan's “Splendor in the Grass” (1961), but it was on Broadway that she emerged as a star, winning two Tony Awards in succession, for “A Thousands Clowns” and “Any Wednesday.”

Dennis followed these triumphs with an Academy Award for best supporting actress in her first substantial screen role, in Mike Nichols' “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (1966).

A distinctive actress with intense, nervous, mannerisms and a muttering speech pattern, she went on to play leads in other films, memorably as a young teacher in a tough New York school in “Up the Down Staircase” (1967).

In 1976, she separated from jazz musician Gerry Mulligan, with whom she had lived for many years.

Oscar Alert

In 1966, Sandy Dennis competed for (and won) the Supporting Actress Oscar with Wendy Hiller in “A Man for All Seasons.” Jocelyn Lagarde in “Hawaii,” Vivien Merchant in “Alfie,” and Geraldine Page in “You're a Big Boy Now.”