Jane White

Performer
Jane White

Female

Born: October 30, 1922
New York, New York, USA

Died: July 24, 2011
New York, New York

Obituary: Jane White, a stage veteran who created the role of Queen Aggravain in Once Upon a Mattress, died on July 24 2011 in New York. She was 88.

Ms. White, a New York City native who grew up in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem, attended Smith College and the New School. She landed her first Broadway role in the 1945 play Strange Fruit. She would go on to act in the Broadway productions The Insect Comedy (1948), Razzle Dazzle (1951), The Climate of Eden (1952), Take a Giant Step (1953), Jane Eyre (1958) and The Power and the Glory (1958), all of which had short runs.

Her luck changed with Mattress, Mary Rodgers' lightly comic tale of the famous fairly tale, which began life Off-Broadway. As Queen Aggravain, she was nemesis to the ungainly, would-be princess played by Carol Burnett. Brooks Atkinson called her "a queen with the evil smile of a dragon." She repeated her work in a 1964 television movie of the musical.

Off-Broadway, she frequently appeared at Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival, where she benefited from the producer's devotion to color-blind casting. She won a 1966 Obie Award for roles in Coriolanus and Love's Labour's Lost at Central Park's Delacorte Theater—a stage she frequently performed upon. In 1971, she was given an Obie Award for Sustained Achievement.

In 1989, she won a Los Angeles Critics Circle Award for her role as the Mother in Lorca's Blood Wedding. Later New York work included Michael John LaChiusa's The Petrified Prince at the Public Theater in 1995. More recently, she was one of the veteran stars who was cast in the 2001 Broadway revival of Follies, in which she played Solange LaFitte.

In 1979 Jane White starred in a one-woman cabaret show, written by friend and librettis Joe Masteroff, entitled Jane White, Who? "Her voice is full of warm rich colors," wrote the New York Times, "and she has a very positive delivery that gives emphasis and shadings to songs that do not always get such perceptive treatment." She continued to perform it throughout the years. Her films included "Klute" and "Beloved."

Jane White was born to Gladys Leah Powell and Walter Francis White, a civil rights leader and the national secretary of the NAACP from 1931–1955. Her childhood home was a gathering place for prominent political and social figures. The couple later divorced.

In 1962, White met and married the New York restaurateur Alfredo Viazzi. They moved to Europe in 1965, but moved back to the U.S. in the late 1960s. Viazzi died of a heart attack in 1987.

 

Roles

Playbill Cover - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Mar. 6, 2008 - Jun. 22, 2008
Big Mama
Feb. 12, 2008 - Feb. 25, 2008
Understudy
(Replacement)
 
Playbill Cover - Follies Follies
Apr. 5, 2001 - Jul. 14, 2001
Solange LaFitte Performer
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - The Cuban Thing The Cuban Thing
Sep. 24, 1968 - Sep. 24, 1968
Barbara Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Once Upon a Mattress Once Upon a Mattress
May 11, 1959 - Jul. 2, 1960
The Queen Aggravain Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Power and the Glory The Power and the Glory
Dec. 10, 1958 - Feb. 8, 1958
Obregon's Wife Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Jane Eyre Jane Eyre
May 1, 1958 - Jun. 14, 1958
Bertha Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Take a Giant Step Take a Giant Step
Sep. 24, 1953 - Nov. 28, 1953
Carol Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Climate of Eden The Climate of Eden
Nov. 13, 1952 - Nov. 22, 1952
Ellen Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Razzle Dazzle Razzle Dazzle
Feb. 19, 1951 - Feb. 24, 1951
Performer
(Original)
 
The Insect Comedy
Jun. 3, 1948 - Jun. 12, 1948
Young Butterfly Performer
(Original)
 
    1st Moth Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Strange Fruit Strange Fruit
Nov. 29, 1945 - Jan. 19, 1946
Nonnie Anderson Performer
(Original)
 
 

Inside the Playbill (1)

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