Life and career
Born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1927 to Hugh Woodruff Thompson and his wife Corlyss (née Gibson), and raised in New Jersey, Thompson earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, after which she worked steadily in regional theatre in such plays as The Seagull, Pygmalion, Our Town, Arms and the Man, and Blithe Spirit. She received training at Pittsburgh Playhouse, where she appeared in numerous productions.
She made her Off-Broadway debut in a 1955 production of Under Milkwood, and the following year she appeared on television in a Goodyear Television Playhouse production. She made her Broadway debut in the 1959 musical Juno. Her additional New York City stage-credits include The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Tartuffe, and Twigs. Her stage performances won her an Obie Award, a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, three Drama Desk Awards and two Sarah Siddons Awards (the last presented for outstanding performances in Chicago theatre). She was elected to the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2005.
On the strength of her success in Twigs, Thompson was signed to play neighbor Irene Lorenzo on All in the Family. After taping her first episode, however, she was replaced by Betty Garrett, when it became obvious that she and producer Norman Lear had different opinions about how the character should be played. Her portrayal of matriarch Kate Lawrence on Family won her the 1978 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and garnered her three nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series Drama.
She was nominated for the Emmy Award nine times, winning once. Thompson's additional television credits included Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, The Love Boat, Father Dowling Mysteries, Andre's Mother, Cheers, Indictment: The McMartin Trial, ER and Law & Order. Her feature films included The Pursuit of Happiness, Desperate Characters, and Pollock.
Thompson was married to Donald E. Stewart from December 18, 1949, until her death. She and her husband lived in Southbury, Connecticut. They had one daughter, costume designer Liza Stewart.
Sada Thompson died on May 4, 2011, in Danbury, Connecticut, of lung disease, aged 83. In addition to her daughter, Liza, she is survived by her husband (a former executive for Pan American Airways) and a brother, David.
|1961||Camera Three||Rosaleen||1 episode|
|1963||The Nurses||Mrs. Mitchell||1 episode|
|1964||The DuPont Show of the Week||Judy||1 episode|
|1971||The Pursuit of Happiness||Ruth Lawrence|
|1973||Love Story||Mamma Cassalini||1 episode|
|1974||Lincoln||Mary Todd Lincoln||TV miniseries
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
|1976||The Entertainer||Phoebe Rice||Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie|
|1977||Our Town||Mrs. Gibbs||Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie|
|1976-1980||Family||Kate Lawrence||86 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (1978)
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (1977, 1979, 1980)
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama (1977, 1979, 1980)
|1982||Marco Polo||Aunt Flora||TV miniseries|
|1986||My Two Loves||Dorothea|
|1986||The Love Boat||Laura Jameson||2 episodes|
|1987||Father Dowling Mysteries||Maria Pello||1 episode|
|1989||Home Fires Burning||Pastine Tibbetts|
|1991||Cheers||Mama Lozupone||1 episode
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
|1995||Law & Order||Elaine Nicodos||1 episode|
|1995||Indictment: The McMartin Trial||Virginia McMartin||Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie|
|1997||Any Mother's Son||Gertie|
|1998||The Patron Saint of Liars||Sister Evangeline|
- Sada Thompson at the Internet Broadway Database
- Sada Thompson at the Internet Movie Database
- Sada Thompson at the Internet Off-Broadway Database