Uta Hagen - Stage, film and television actress, acting teacher, textbook author; born Uta Thyra Hagen on June 12, 1919 in Göttingen, Germany and raised Madison, Wisconsin. She appeared in productions of the University of Wisconsin High School and in summer stock productions of the Wisconsin Players. Hagen also attended one semester at the University of Wisconsin, where her father was the head of the department of art history.
In 1938, at the age of 18, Hagen played the leading ingenue role of Nina in a Broadway production of Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull" which featured fellow Wisconsinites, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. She also originated the role of Martha in the 1962 Broadway premiere of Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?".
Hagen was placed on the Hollywood blacklist in the 1950s, a time which she refers to as the "unreal" part of her life. Because of the Hollywood blacklist (some think partly because of her association with Paul Robeson), Hagen had limited output in film and television and focused on New York theatre. She did not make her cinematic debut until 1972 when she appeared in the psychological thriller, "The Other". She would later comment about being blacklisted, "that fact kept me pure.". There is a wonderful "This I Believe" essay written by Hagen about this "unreal" part of her life that's titled Ideals Don't Bend. You can read and/or listen to this essay at https://thisibelieve.org/essay/16599
Hagen later became a highly influential acting teacher at New York's Herbert Berghof Studio and authored the best-selling acting text, Respect for Acting (with Haskel Frankel) and "A Challenge for the Actor". Among many of her students at the HB studio was fellow Wisconsinite, Gene Wilder who would go on to fame in Blazing Saddles, Young Frankestein, and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
Awards and nominations include:
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Tony Award winning stage actress, television actress and 2002 National Medal of Arts recepient.
Above: Uta Hagen in Blatz Beer advertisement. From Blatz Beer's "I lived in Milwaukee, I ought to know" series.
Above: Uta Hagen in Othello as Desdemona with Paul Robeson as Othello, Theatre Guild Production, Broadway, 1943-1944.
Above: (from left) Martha Scott, Uta Hagen, Frances Farmer and Julie Haydon. Uta Hagen was included in this Stage Magazine publicty shot for her role as Nina in Anton Chekhov's 1938 production of The Seagull, in which she appeared at the age of 18 with fellow Wisconsinites, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.