Broadway Loses Its Blithest Spirit as Death Comes Suddenly for Oscar Winner Geraldine Page
updated 06/29/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 06/29/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT
It won't be easy getting along without the mischievous imp behind that laugh. After a Friday evening performance as the wacky medium in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit—the role for which she received her fourth Tony nomination—Page, 62, merrily chatted with co-stars Blythe Danner and Richard Chamberlain about the next day's matinee. On Saturday Page's son Anthony found her dead of heart failure in her Manhattan brownstone. The tributes poured in, praising her performances onstage (recently with the Mirror Repertory in The Madwoman of Chaillot), on TV (she won Emmys for Truman Capote's The Thanksgiving Visitor and A Christmas Memory) and onscreen. Last year, after a record eight nominations, she finally took the Oscar for her touching performance in The Trip to Bountiful. "I miss her," said a fan who joined a vigil outside Page's brownstone after her death. "She reminded me of my mother."
Page's own children (Angelica, 23, and twin sons Jonathan and Anthony, 22, by her third husband, actor Rip Torn) knew better than to expect a conventional mother. Theirs dressed like a bag lady, discounted the fact that husband Torn had fathered a child by another woman ("What's the big fuss?") and never learned how to say no to a part. If sometimes her eagerness to tear into a role slipped into mannerism ("I do wiggle around"), the doctor's daughter from Missouri never did less than make the most of any job. She wasn't resting on her laurels when death came; she was on a roll. "I wasn't overdone, was I?" she asked after one of her performances, adding with a sly twinkle, "Wasn't I exquisite?" As ever, she was.