Rose Gregorio, who received a Tony nomination for her performance as the browbeaten daughter of Geraldine Fitzgerald’s declining old woman in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama The Shadow Box, has died. She was 97.
Gregorio died Aug. 17 of natural causes in her Greenwich Village home, her nephew Robert Grosbard told The Music news.
Gregorio was married to Belgium-born stage and film director Ulu Grosbard from 1965 until his death in 2012, and she appeared for him as the ex-wife of Dustin Hoffman’s character in Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? (1971); as a local madam in True Confessions (1981); and as the mother of Treat Williams’ character in The Deep End of the Ocean (1999).
On television, she had a recurring role on NBC’s ER as Nurse Carol Hathaway’s (Julianna Margulies) mom from 1996-99.
Gregorio also landed a Drama Desk nom and a Clarence Derwent prize in 1977 for her portrayal of Agnes in Michael Cristofer’s The Shadow Box, winner of the Tony for best play. In his review for The New York Times, Clive Barnes took note of her “eyes dully lit with the pain of the rejected and the martyrdom of the brave.”
The family drama also starred Mandy Patinkin and Laurence Luckinbill.
Born in Chicago to Italian immigrants on Oct. 17, 1925, Gregorio attended Steinmetz High School in her hometown, the School of Speech at Northwestern and the School of Drama at Yale University, where she earned a master’s degree and first met Grosbard.
She moved to New York and appeared in the early ‘60s on such TV shows as Naked City, East Side/West Side and Route 66 and played the title character opposite Robert Duvall in the off-Broadway drama The Days and Nights of Beebee Fenstermaker, directed by Grosbard.
On Broadway, Gregorio served as a standby for Diana Sands in the original 1964-65 production of The Owl and the Pussycat, as an understudy in 1966’s The Investigation (also directed by Grosbard) and as standby again in 1967’s Daphne in Cottage D.
She acted alongside Raul Julia, Rip Torn and Conrad Bain in The Cuban Thing, which closed on opening night in 1968, then worked with Hoffman and Cleavon Little in Jimmy Shine, which lasted four months through April 1969.
Also in 1968, she made her movie debut as an annoyed woman at a public pool in Frank Perry’s The Swimmer, starring Burt Lancaster.
Gregorio’s big-screen résumé included Desperate Characters (1971), Mr. Ricco (1975), Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), Five Corners (1987), John Sayles’ City of Hope (1991), Tarantella (1995), Maze (2000) and Good Time (2017).
She had a regular gig on the NBC soap opera The Doctors in 1972 and showed up on episodes of The Bob Newhart Show, The Rookies, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, The Rockford Files, Falcon Crest, Doogie Howser, M.D., Murder, She Wrote and The Practice.
She returned to Broadway as Beatrice in a revival of A View From the Bridge in 1983 and as Helga in the original production of M. Butterfly in 1988.
She and Grosbard had no children. Her survivors include another nephew, John, and a niece, Lisa.