Bethel Leslie

Bethel Leslie

Bethel Leslie (Wikipedia)

Bethel Lesliewas an American actress and screenwriter who was born in 1929. In her career spanning half a century, she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award and a Laurel Award in 1964, a Tony Award in 1986, and a CableACE Award in 1988.

Bethel Leslie was born in New YorkNew York. Her parents were a lawyer, Warren Leslie,  and Jane Leslie, a newspaperwoman. She was a student at Brearley School in New York City.

While a 13-year-old student at Brearley School, Leslie was discovered by George Abbott, who cast her in the play Snafu in 1944. In a 1965 newspaper article, Leslie described herself as “a ‘quick study’ — able to learn my lines rather fast.”

Over the next four decades she appeared in a number of Broadway productions, including Goodbye, My Fancy (1948), The Time of the Cuckoo (1952), Inherit the Wind (1955), Catch Me If You Can (1965), and Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1986).

In 1950, Leslie was cast as Cornelia Otis Skinner in The Girls, a television series based on the author’s Our Hearts Were Young and Gay. She departed the show after two months to appear with Helen Hayes in the play The Wisteria Trees, adapted from Anton Chekhov‘s The Cherry Orchard by Joshua Logan.

Leslie began working in television in the 1940s and frequently was a guest on the many anthology series popular in the early to mid-1950s, such as Studio One and Playhouse 90. She appeared with Ronald W. Reagan and Stafford Repp in the 1960 episode “The Way Home” of CBS‘s The DuPont Show with June Allyson. Later, she was one of the repertory of actors starring in The Richard Boone Show (1963-1964).

Leslie made three guest appearances on Perry Mason, and was featured as Perry’s client in all three episodes. In 1958 she played Janet Morris in “The Case of the Fugitive Nurse,” and Evelyn Girard in “The Case of the Purple Woman.” In 1960 she played Sylvia Sutton in “The Case of the Wayward Wife.”

In 1962, she portrayed the part of Martha Hastings in the episode, “The Long Count”, on CBS’s Rawhide.

Leslie also guest starred in many western television series, including The Texan, Mackenzie’s Raiders (episode as Lucinda Cabot in “The Lucinda Cabot Affair”), Dick Powell’s Zane Grey TheaterThe Man from BlackhawkRiverboatWanted: Dead or Alive (episode “Secret Ballot”), Trackdown (episode “False Witness”), Bat MastersonThe RiflemanGunsmokeMaverickPony ExpressStagecoach WestBonanzaThe Wild Wild WestHave Gun – Will Travel with Richard Boone, and Wagon Train (Season 8, Episode 20).

Her other credits were on drama series, such as Alfred Hitchcock PresentsRichard Diamond, Private Detective and The Fugitive, both starring David Janssen;  The Eleventh HourThe Lloyd Bridges ShowMannixRoute 66 (episodes “The Layout at Glen Canyon” and “City of Wheels”), StraightawayBus StopTarget: The Corruptors!The InvestigatorsThe Man and the ChallengeAdventures in ParadiseBen CaseyOne Step BeyondThrillerEmpire, and a later western, The High Chaparral.

Leslie became a regular on the NBC soap, The Doctors, when she took over the role of “Maggie Powers” after Ann Williams left the part. Leslie was also featured in the 1964 episode “The Fluellen Family” in the NBC western Daniel Boone, starring Fess Parker. She had recurring roles on Another World and All My Children and was featured in the television adaptations of In Cold Blood and Saint Maybe.

Leslie was the head writer for The Secret Storm in 1954. She also scripted episodes for GunsmokeBracken’s WorldBarnaby JonesMcCloudThe New LandMatt Helm, and Falcon Crest. In 1970, producer Howard Christie referred to Leslie as “a good actress who has turned into a fine scriptwriter.”[9]

Leslie’s debut in feature films came in 1964 in Captain Newman, M.D.. Her feature film credits include A Rage to Live (1965), The Molly Maguires (1970), with Sean ConneryDr. Cook’s Garden (1971), Old Boyfriends (1979), Ironweed (1987), Message in a Bottle (1999) and Uninvited (1999).

Bethel Leslie died in 1999 aged 70.

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