Alumna Rae Allen, Tony Winner Has Died at 95
The Actors Society is saddened to hear of the passing of one of our own, Ms. Rae Allen, who peacefully passed away on the morning of April 6th, at the age of 95. A successful film, television, and stage actress, Allen’s talents crossed over all mediums, winning a Tony Award in 1971 for Best Featured Actress in a Play.
Allen was born Rae Julia Theresa Abruzzo in Brooklyn, New York on July 23, 1926, to Julia, a seamstress and hairdresser, and Joeseph Abruzzo, an opera singer and chauffeur. Upon graduating from The Academy in 1947 she began to work on Broadway, making her debut in the ensemble of George Abbott’s 1948 musical Where’s Charley?. She continued to be a staple in Abbott musicals, appearing in both 1958’s Call Madam and the famed The Pajama Game.
However, her big Broadway break came with the Abbott musical Damn Yankees where she played Gloria, a sports reporter, for whom she was nominated for her first Tony Award. The musical is about a fan, Joe Boyd, of the Washington Senators baseball team. The team is not doing very well so he makes a deal with the devil to make him the smash hitter the team desperately needs. The play ran for over 1,000 performances. Allen’s other Broadway credits include; Fiddler on the Roof, Traveler Without Luggage, which garnered her a second Tony Award nomination, as well as, And Miss Reardon Drinks A Little, where she played the over-zealous public education administrator Fleur Stein. The play would give Allen her third Tony nomination, this time taking home the trophy for Best Featured Actress in a Play.
The role of Gloria in the smash-hit musical Damn Yankees would once again prove to be fruitful for Allen when Hollywood came around in 1958 to make it into a smash-hit movie starring Tab Hunter and Gwen Verdon. Reprising her role, this would be Allen’s first voyage into the world of film. She constantly continued to work in film and television following Yankees. Her film credits include; Carl Reiner’s Where’s Poppa?, Milos Forman’s Taking Off, A League of Their Own starring Tom Hanks and Madonna, Roland Emmerich’s sci-fi adventure Stargate starring Kurt Russell and James Spader, and the Adam Sandler led 9/11 drama Reign Over Me. She had reoccurring roles in such popular television shows as; All in the Family, Soap, and most notably as Aunt Quintina Blundetto in HBO’s The Sopranos.
Rae Allen was a thriving working actress that created lasting, rich characterizations in all mediums. She will be greatly missed by The Actors Society and all who admired her talent.