On screen, Maureen Stapleton was a character actress. But at the 1982 Academy Awards, she was the undisputed star of the night with the heartfelt blurting out: "I want to thank...everybody I ever met in my entire life."
Stapleton, the Oscar-, Emmy- and Tony-winning stalwart whose career spanned nearly 60 years, died Monday of chronic pulmonary disease, the Associated Press reported. She was 80.
Stapleton's classic Oscar moment came on the occasion of her Best Supporting Actress win for playing social activist Emma Goldman in Warren Beatty's 1981 epic Reds.
As it turned out, Stapleton was wise to shoehorn all her thank yous into one speech--the Reds triumph marked her only Oscar, and the last of her career four nominations.
On stage, Stapleton won two Tonys, a 1951 trophy for a supporting turn in Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo, and a 1971 trophy for a starring role in Neil Simon's The Gingerbread Lady.
A familiar face in the eras of the live television drama and the network movie of the week, Stapleton was a six-time Emmy nominee, winning in 1968 for the Xerox Special, Among the Paths to Eden.
Born June 21, 1925, in New York, Stapleton made her Broadway debut in 1946. She was all of 21. By the time she won her first Tony, she was all of 25, and, in the judgment of the New York Times, a star.
Stapleton's stardom didn't take as quickly in Hollywood. Even her first Oscar nomination, a Best Supporting Actress nod for 1958's Lonelyhearts, didn't bring her much movie work. Her screen career finally took off in 1970 when, at age 44, she was seen in Airport as the frumpy, worried wife of mad bomber Van Heflin. The performance earned Stapleton her second Oscar nomination.
In 1979, she notched her third Academy Award nod was for playing the loud, vivacious counterpoint to the Ingmar Bergman-inspired gloomy Gusses in Woody Allen's Interiors.
That same year, Stapleton hosted Saturday Night Live, which said a lot about the state of her career at age 53, and, in retrospect, a lot about the kind of hosts SNL used to recruit.
After her Oscar win for Reds, Stapleton went on to appear as one of the space-bound senior citizens in 1985's Cocoon and its 1988 followup, Cocoon 2--The Return. Other key credits included: the 1971 film version of Simon's Plaza Suite; and, the 1977 made for TV movie holiday tearjerker The Gathering (itself sequelized in 1979's The Gathering, Part II).
Stapleton's credits did not include the classic sitcom All in the Family, which costarred Jean Stapleton, and for whom Maureen Stapleton was frequently mistaken.
In 1995, Stapleton published her autobiography, A Hell of a Life. True to its title, the actress, per various reviews, dished about her problems with drink, pills and men. One of her noteworthy affairs was with Broadway impresario George Abbott. The romance commenced when Stapleton was in her 40s, and Abbott was in his 80s. It ended when Abbott, then in his 90s, traded in Stapleton for a younger woman.