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CABARET's Original 'Sally' Jill Haworth Passes Away At 65

Jill Haworth, who lit up the Broadway stage as the original Sally Bowles in CABARET, has passed away. The English actress, 65, died Monday in Manhattan of natural causes.

Haworth's entertainment career began when she was just fifteen years old. The petite actress appeared with Paul Newman in the 1960 motion picture "Exodus." Haworth appeared in films throughout the 1960s, before moving to television work.

In 1966, at the youtful age of 21, Haworth made what would be the high point of her career. The actress was cast in John Kander & Fred Ebb's CABARET, a musical based on John Van Druten's 1951 play I AM A CAMERA, which had been adapted from the Christopher Isherwood novel "Goodbye to Berlin." Her work was not critically-praised though, with NY Times theatre critic Walter Kerr stating "‘Cabaret’ is a stunning musical with one wild wrong note,” referring to Ms. Haworth. Kerr later added that she was “a damaging presence, worth no more to the show than her weight in mascara.”

In a recent NY Times interview, prolific director & producer Harold Prince, who helmed the original production of CABARET, said the negative comments from the critics didn't shake the actress. “They underestimated her,” Mr. Prince said of the critics. “Sally Bowles was not supposed to be a professional singer. She wasn’t supposed to be so slick that you forgot she was an English girl somewhat off the rails in the Weimar era. When Jill came in and auditioned, she nailed it right away, walked that line. That’s what we wanted, and that’s what she delivered.”

The Times reports that "Valerie Jill Haworth was born, according to many online sources, in Sussex, England, on Aug. 15, 1945. Her parents, who divorced when she was a girl, were well-to-do. Her father was a textiles magnate who also drove racing cars; her mother trained as a ballet dancer, as did Ms. Haworth.

“Society looked down on me for becoming an actress, but I don’t miss society, ” she told the gossip columnist Earl Wilson in 1965, adding that in America she acceded to a change in the pronunciation of her name. “I can’t get anyone here to pronounce it ‘Hahworth.’ Just as long as they don’t spell it H-a-y.”

Information about her family, including survivors, wasn’t immediately available.

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