On the Serious Side (Daily News, April 1958)

Anne Bancroft, Broadway’s big star this season, is an intense young actress dedicated to her art.

Daily News (New York, New York); 20 April 1958; pg. 816.

Author: Don Nelsen

There was a time when a spirit of gay irresponsibility characterized a whole generation of young actors. Today, the keynote seems to be brooding intensity. Perhaps the first to publicly display this quality was Marlon Brando; at any rate, Anne Bancroft is certainly not the last.

Miss Bancroft, nee Anna Maria Italiano, is a dark-haired, brown-eyed woman of 27 whose quick speech and manner hint of an inner restlessness. Her personality is, in a way, reflected in her clothes, which are obviously chosen for comfort all the way. Her tastes run to sweaters, skirts, and black woolen stockings. Explaining the latter, she says: “My feet get cold in the winter.” What could be more reasonable?

One of her sweaters, a big, comfortable hip-length job, she knitted herself when a film accident put her in the hospital for three months. She was making a Western in South Dakota when the horse shied and she wound up with a pinched nerve.

Another winter casualty is her lips. She rarely uses makeup, hence there is no lipstick to cushion her unruby reds against the chapping winds. She fights back, though, with frequent applications of menthol stick.

Though Miss B. is currently big on Broadway as the co-star with Henry Fonda in Two for the Seesaw, a smash hit, she began her career in the less heady atmosphere of Seddon St. and Maclay Ave. in the East Bronx. It was on this corner that she entertained the men of the WPA, who were only too happy to lean on their shovels and listen to the squeaking three-year-old.

The theatre, of course, takes care of most of her nights but the days between the nights have also a professional tinge to them. She takes singing lessons, for one thing. 

“I started to study voice when I was twelve years old but I gave it up. Now that I’m in the show, I’m going back.”

Then there’s the hairdresser.

“I know it doesn’t look like I go to one but I do.”

Bancroft is the second pseudonym Anne has adopted since the beginning of her professional career. She was Anne Marno when she did all that television work a few years back but Darryl Zanuck saw to it that this was changed when he gave her a contract at 20th Century Fox. She made some fifteen films before she read for Seesaw but once she debuted on Broadway, she was quickly recognized as an accomplished actress. She still accepts some television assignments but not nearly as many as before because of her stage commitment. 

Anne’s parents now live in Yonkers though she herself has a small place in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. Her mother, Mildred, is a telephone operator at Macy’s; her dad, Michael, is a patternmaker in the garment trade. Two sisters, Jo Anne and Phyllis, are married. Anne tried it once but it didn’t work out. Her near four-year marriage to attorney and real estate man Martin May ended in divorce on Feb. 13, 1957.

Though her leisure time is limited these days, she spends some of it in reading. She used to be a pretty fair hand at water colors but she hasn’t touched a brush lately at all. Her literary diversions come usually at bedtime. She takes one of the normally two or three volumes she is reading–and peruses a chapter or two before going to sleep. She is currently engrossed in an autobiography, a biography and a psychological work. 

“I like to read things that have value for me,” she explains, “but nothing too stimulating because then I might not be able to sleep. I know that sounds like a contradiction because if anything is of value, it has to be stimulating…don’t you think?”

Contradiction it may be but Anne Bancroft appears to possess both properties. She is definitely something of value in the theatre–and stimulating, too.

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