Tony Winner Liliane Montevecchi Passes Away at 85
BroadwayWorld is saddened to report that Tony winner Liliane Montevecchi passed away today, June 29, in New York City. She was 85 years old.
Montevecchi began her international career as a prima ballerina in Roland Petit's dance company. She appeared in The Glass Slipper with Michael Wilding and Daddy Long Legs (with Fred Astaire), in both of which she was acting with leading lady Leslie Caron. In the mid-1950s she was signed to a contract by MGM, which cast her in various roles in such films as Moonfleet with Stewart Granger and Meet Me in Las Vegas with Cyd Charisse and John Brascia. She then played in the Jerry Lewis vehicle The Sad Sack, King Creolewith Elvis Presley, and The Young Lions with Montgomery Clift, Dean Martin and Marlon Brando. She knew Gene Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and Clark Gable, and she took classes at The Actors Studio in New York, alongside Marilyn Monroe.
Montevecchi replaced Colette Brosset in the 1958 Broadway revue La Plume de Ma Tante. After some television work in series such as Playhouse 90 and Adventures in Paradise at the end of the decade, Montevecchi opted to leave Hollywood for a star spot in the Folies Bergère in Las Vegas, toured with the company for nine years before the Folies Bergère in Paris from 1972 to 1978. In 1982 she drew the attention of critics and audiences for her performance in Nine, with Raúl Juliá, for which she won both the Tony and Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Seven years later she starred in Grand Hotel, earning a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.
On TV she guest-starred in more than 20 shows. Liliane Montevecchi also appeared in the films Wall Street and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days with Matthew McConaughey. She has appeared in concert at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center and toured internationally with her semi-autobiographical shows On the Boulevard and Back on the Boulevard. Her solo album On the Boulevard is available from Jay Records. She is featured in the recording of the 1985 concert version of Follies staged at Avery Fisher Hall, and she also has starred in musicals such as Irma La Douce, Gigi and Hello Dolly!.
In 1999, she replaced Eartha Kitt as The Wicked Witch of The West in Radio City Entertainment's touring production of The Wizard of Oz co-starring Mickey Rooney as The Wizard and Jessica Grové as Dorothy. Liliane Montevecchi appeared as The Witch during the show's limited run at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
In December 2010, Kaye Ballard, Liliane Montevecchi and Donna McKechnie starred in a Santa Fe production of From Broadway with Love, directed by Richard Jay-Alexander and staged at the Lensic Theater. In early 2012, she joined with Kaye Ballard and Lee Roy Reams for the musical review Doin' It For Love, music directed by David Geist. The show played Austin, Texas and Los Angeles.
In March 2015, she won critical praise for recreating her Tony nominated role of Grushinskaya in Grand Hotel: The 25th Anniversary Reunion Concert at 54 Below, in New York City.
A memorial service will be held on Monday, July 9th at Gotham Hall (1356 Broadway, between W. 36th & 37th Streets). Visitation will be from 11:30 AM-1PM followed by champagne and a reception from 1-2PM.