Peggy Feury | Srivideo
Born Name: Margaret Feury
Date of Birth: June 30, 1924
Place of Birth: Jersey City, New Jersey, United States
Died: November 20, 1985 (aged 61), West Hollywood, California, U.S.
Other names: Peg Feury, Margaret Traylor
Occupation: Actress, teacher
Spouse(s): Louis S. Peterson (m. 1952—1961; divorced), William Traylor (m.1961—1985; her death)
Children: Susan Traylor, Stephanie Feury
Grandchildren: Feury Mae, William Dylan
Peggy Feury (born Margaret Feury; June 30, 1924 — November 20, 1985) was an American actress on Broadway, in films, and on television. She became a highly regarded acting teacher in New York and then in Los Angeles. Throughout her career, she taught many notable students.
Feury was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. Her father was Richard Feury; her mother, born in Ireland, was also Margaret Feury; and her younger sister was Elinor Feury. She graduated from Barnard College, then attended the Yale School of Drama, later studying with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, and with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse.
While at Yale, Feury met and then married her first husband, playwright Louis S. Peterson. Less than a decade later, following their divorce and Feury's remarriage, Peterson's semi-autobiographical play Entertain a Ghost was produced, chronicling a deteriorating marriage between a fictional playwright and actress with obvious parallels to Peterson and Feury. The play received from the Village Voice a positive and detailed review that expressed the feeling that the production should have run longer. It described it as "a daring and deeply exploratory new play, the best damned failure I've seen in years".
As Margaret Feury she appeared on Broadway in Me and Molly; Sunday Breakfast (staged by noted acting teacher Stella Adler); Enter Laughing; Peer Gynt, starring John Garfield, Mildred Dunnock, and Karl Malden, directed by Lee Strasberg; The Grass Harp, directed by Actors Studio co-founder Robert Lewis; The Lady of the Camellias, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, Chekov's Three Sisters, directed by Strasberg (with Feury eventually replacing Geraldine Page as Olga), and The Turn of the Screw. Off-Broadway she starred in Frank Wedekind's Earth Spirit at the Provincetown Playhouse.
Between 1956 and 1969, the Actors Studio undertook a project to record and archive work that was being done there, including performances of scenes from dramatic literature. These recordings have been archived as part of the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections. Feury participated in this project from its inception until her relocation to Los Angeles in December 1968.
Feury appeared in a number of television dramas beginning in the Golden Age of Television, including, in 1961, a significant role she played in “Murder is a Face I Know”, an episode from The Naked City, which can be found on the internet.
In November 1961, an early draft of the first scene of Edward Albee’s play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, was presented on the public television program Playwright at Work. The characters George and Martha – which would later be originated on stage by Arthur Hill and Uta Hagen, and on screen by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor – were portrayed by Shepperd Strudwick and Feury.
On October 2, 1977, Feury appeared in "Iowa," the second season premiere of Visions, PBS's Peabody Award-winning dramatic anthology series; it was also playwright Murray Mednick's television debut. The critical reaction was disappointment, but the actors fared better, Feury in particular. As the unwilling nursing home resident whose disjointed recollections provide her granddaughter an invaluable connection to her Iowa roots, Feury's portrayal was judged "y far the best acting performance" by The Hartford Courant. Her performance, as the character veers "from family feeling to suspicion to self-absorbed recollection" – was noted by The Boston Globe, with The Los Angeles Times citing her "almost effortless grace" and "marvelous ferocity." Critic James Wolcott writes:
In 1982, Feury appeared as "Colonel Buckholtz," a perfectionist colonel who inspects Margaret Houlihan and the nurses in "Hey, Look Me Over," the opening episode of M*A*S*H Season 11.
Feury's film credits include Matt Cimber's The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976), Richard C. Sarafian's The Next Man (1976) starring Sean Connery, Elia Kazan's film of The Last Tycoon (1976), starring Robert De Niro, Carl Reiner's All of Me (1984), starring Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin, Ken Russell's Crimes of Passion (1984), and Feury's final screen performance, in 1918 (1985), written by Horton Foote. A brief appearance in Donald Shebib's Heartaches (1981) was singled out by New York Times critic Vincent Canby: "That very fine actress Peggy Feury appears in a tiny but important scene as the doctor who advises Bonnie about a possible abortion."
By far Feury's most substantial film role (in terms of both sheer size and importance to a film's narrative) came in a little seen low-budget psychological horror film – John Ballard's Friday the 13th: The Orphan (1979), based on the short story Sredni Vashtar by Saki. In Nightmare USA (his 2007 study of lesser-known American exploitation filmmakers), Stephen Thrower writes:
Feury was a charter member of the Actors Studio and frequently led sessions there when Lee Strasberg was unavailable. She also taught her own classes in the same building where Strasberg taught, behind Carnegie Hall.
In December 1968, at Strasberg's suggestion, Feury moved to Los Angeles with her husband William Traylor and their two daughters. After a brief stint teaching at Jack Garfein's Actors and Directors Lab, Feury helped establish the west coast branch of the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, where she would double as instructor and artistic director until 1973, when she and Traylor started their own acting school, the Loft Studio, on LaBrea Avenue.
Sean Penn was 18 when he arrived at the Loft; he remained for two years, attending class twenty-five hours a week. Feury's "very gentle," "very personal" approach quickly won over the fiercely independent young actor, as did her emphasis on discovering "how bring yourself to the material rather than the material to you." To Anjelica Huston, who began her studies in 1981 at age 30, Feury was "a revelation," with "a vast knowledge of playwrights" and "an extraordinary gift for making one feel understood." Huston describes her teacher as "beautiful," " quite small and delicate," with a "half way to heaven look." On the other hand, notes Huston, Feury was "extremely intelligent and mordant, Irish, with certain very visceral preferences", and yet had "a way of commenting on a scene that was never destructive. [Even when] you knew she thought it was pretty terrible, she had a way of translating it positively to actors – her process was very reinforcing, I think."
Feury was occasionally called upon to coach an individual actor in a role, as she did Michelle Pfeiffer in Brian De Palma's Scarface (1983) and Lily Tomlin in her one-woman stage show The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. The evolution of Tomlin's show formed the basis of a 1986 documentary in which Feury appeared posthumously; Tomlin dedicated the film to her memory.
From the mid 1970s until her death, Feury and her students frequently showcased the work of playwright Horton Foote, presenting four of his plays in their entirety plus a number of individual scenes from Foote's The Orphans' Home Cycle. In 1984, in her final film role, Feury was cast in the film version of Foote’s 1918, the seventh of The Orphans' Home Cycle's nine plays.
Illness and death
Feury struggled with narcolepsy. When she would come out of one of its spells she could be lucid as though she had been alert during the episode. She died Wednesday, November 20, 1985 in a car accident, a head-on collision, in West Los Angeles.
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