Susan Tyrrell

Susan Tyrrell (born Susan Jillian Creamer; March 18, 1945 – June 16, 2012) was an American character actress. Tyrrell's career began in theater in New York City in the 1960s in Broadway and off Broadway productions. Her first film was Shoot Out (1971). She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Oma in John Huston's Fat City (1972). In 1978, Tyrrell received the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Andy Warhol's Bad (1977). Her New York Times obituary described her as "a whiskey-voiced character actress (with) talent for playing the downtrodden, outré, and grotesque."[1]

Susan Tyrrell
Publicity still for Camino Real, 1970
Susan Jillian Creamer

(1945-03-18)March 18, 1945
San Francisco, California, U.S.
DiedJune 16, 2012(2012-06-16) (aged 67)
Years active1964–2012
Notable work
Fat City, Andy Warhol's Bad, Forbidden Zone, Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker, Cry-Baby
Parent(s)Gillian Tyrrell
John Belding Creamer

Early life

Tyrrell was born in San Francisco, California, to a British mother, Gillian (née Tyrrell; 19132012);[2] and an American father, John Belding Creamer. Her mother was a socialite and member of the diplomatic corps in China and the Philippines during the 1930s and 1940s. Her father John was an agent with the William Morris Agency who represented Leo Carrillo, Loretta Young, Ed Wynn, and Carole Lombard.

Tyrell spent her childhood in New Canaan, Connecticut. She was a poor student and as a teenager became estranged from her mother.[3] Through her father's connections, Tyrrell was employed in the theatrical production of Time Out for Ginger (1963) starring Art Carney in New York City.[4][5] Her father also persuaded Look magazine to follow her as she toured with the show, but died shortly afterwards.[3]


Tyrrell made her Broadway debut in 1965 as a replacement performer in the comedy Cactus Flower.[3] In 1968, as a member of the Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center, she was in the cast of King Lear and revivals of The Time of Your Life (1969) and Camino Real (1970). Off-Broadway, Tyrrell appeared in the 1967 premiere of Lanford Wilson's The Rimers of Eldritch and a 1979 production of Father's Day at The American Place Theatre.[3]

Tyrrell's television debut was in Mr. Novak (1964) and her film debut was in Shoot Out (1971). Tyrrell was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Oma in John Huston's Fat City (1972). In 1976 she played a psychotic bimbo in ‘‘I Never Promised You A Rose Garden’’. In 1978, the actress won the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Bad (1977).[6]

Later, Tyrrell starred as Queen Doris in the indie Forbidden Zone (1980). She sang the film's song, "Witch's Egg". A year later, she portrayed Vera in Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981). From 1981 to 1982, Tyrrell starred as Gretchen Feester, in the ABC's short-lived situation comedy series Open All Night. She then had a starring role in the exploitation horror film Night Warning (1981).

In 1983 Tyrrell played Solly, in the sexploitation film Angel and its 1984 sequel, Avenging Angel. Then followed roles in the adventure film Flesh+Blood, the Vincent Price anthology horror film From a Whisper to a Scream (1987), the animated feature film The Chipmunk Adventure (1987), and Big Top Pee-wee (the 1988 sequel to 1985's Pee-wee's Big Adventure) followed. Tyrrell took a supporting role in John Waters' Cry-Baby (1990).

In 1992, Tyrrell performed her own one-woman show, Susan Tyrrell: My Rotten Life, a Bitter Operetta.[7] In the late 1990s, Tyrrell had roles in the Tales from the Crypt episode, "Comes the Dawn" (1995); the animated series Extreme Ghostbusters (1997); and the psychological thriller film Buddy Boy (1999).

In the 2000s, Tyrrell appeared in Bob Dylan's Masked and Anonymous (2003), and The Devil's Due at Midnight (2004). Her final appearance was in the 2012 independent film Kid-Thing.

Personal life

Tyrrell suffered from essential thrombocytosis, a disease of the blood. In early 2000, her disease was complicated by bilateral below knee amputations.[8] That year, Johnny Depp hosted a benefit at the Viper Room to help defray Tyrrell's medical bills. Megan Mullally, Jack Black, and Chloe Webb attended.

In 2008, Tyrell moved to Austin, Texas, to be closer to her niece.[9] In January 2012, Tyrrell wrote in her journal, "I demand my death be joyful and I never return again." She died on June 16, 2012, in Austin. She was cremated and her ashes scattered.[9][10]



Year Title Role Notes
1971 The Steagle Louise
Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me Jack
Shoot Out Alma
1972 Fat City Oma Lee Greer New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress (2nd place)
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress (2nd place)
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1974 Catch My Soul Emilia
Zandy's Bride Maria Cordova
To Kill the King Maggie Van Birchard
1976 The Killer Inside Me Joyce Lakeland
1977 Andy Warhol's Bad Mary Aiken Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
Wizards Narrator Voice, Uncredited
Islands in the Stream Lil
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden Lee
September 30, 1955 Melba Lou
Another Man, Another Chance Alice
1978 Loose Shoes Boobies
1979 Racquet Miss Baxter
1980 Forbidden Zone Queen Doris of the Sixth Dimension / Ruth Henderson
1981 Subway Riders Eleanor Langley
Night Warning Cheryl Roberts (Aunt Cheryl)
Tales of Ordinary Madness Vera
1982 Liar's Moon Lora Mae Bouvier
Fast-Walking Evie
1983 Fire and Ice Juliana Voice
1984 Angel Solly Mosler
The Killers Susu, Second Ragpicker
1985 Avenging Angel Solly Mosler
Flesh+Blood Celine
1986 The Christmas Star Sara
1987 The Chipmunk Adventure Claudia Furschtein Voice
From a Whisper to a Scream Beth Chandler
The Underachievers Mrs. Grant
1988 Tapeheads Nikki Morton
Big Top Pee-wee Midge Montana
1989 Far from Home Agnes Reed
1990 Rockula Chuck the Bartender
Cry-Baby Ramona Rickettes
1991 Motorama Bartender
1992 Susan Tyrrell: My Rotten Life, a Bitter Operetta The Woman
1995 The Demolitionist Mayor Eleanor Grimbaum
Digital Man Mildred Hodges
Powder Maxine
1997 Poison Ivy: The New Seduction[11] Mrs. B
Pink as the Day She Was Born Lana
1998 Relax...It's Just Sex Alicia Pillsbury
1999 Buddy Boy Sal
Swap Meet
2003 Masked and Anonymous Ella the Fortune Teller
2008 The Boneyard Collection High Priestess
2012 Kid-Thing Esther Voice, (final film role)


Year Title Role Notes
1964 Mr. Novak Phyllis Freuchen Episode: "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"
1971 Bonanza Mrs. Jill Conway Episode: "Fallen Woman"
1975 Baretta Pamela / Jenny Episode: "Double Image"
1976 Starsky and Hutch Annie / Isabelle Oates Episode: "The Collector"
1978 Kojak Mary Torino Episode: "In Full Command"
1981-1982 Open All Night Gretchen Feester 13 episodes
1992 Wings Sconset Sal Episode: "Marriage, Italian Style" (as Susan Tyrell)
1995 Tales from the Crypt Mona Episode: "Comes the Dawn"
1997 Extreme Ghostbusters Achira Voice, Episodes: "Darkness at Noon, Part 1", "Darkness at Noon, Part 2"


Year Title Role Notes
1967 The Rimers of Eldritch Patsy Johnson Cherry Lane Theatre
1968 Cactus Flower[12] Botticelli's Springtime [Replacement]

Toni (Understudy) [Replacement]

1968 A Cry for Players Jenny Broadway
1969 King Lear[12] Ensemble Broadway
Invitation to a Beheading[13] Marthe The Public Theater
A Cry of Players[12] Jenny Broadway
The Time of Your Life[12] Kitty Duval Broadway
1970 Camino Real[12] Esmeralda Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center
1979 Father's Day Louise The American Place Theatre
1992 Susan Tyrrell: My Rotten Life, a Bitter Operetta[8] The Woman
1997 The Joy of Going Somewhere Definite [14] Patsy, Older Woman, Waitress Center Theatre Group

Awards and nominations

Year Work Award Category Result
1973 Fat City NSFC Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
NYFCC Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Academy Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
1978 Andy Warhol's Bad Saturn Award Best Supporting Actress Won

Source:"Susan Tyrrell". IMDB. Retrieved April 2, 2014.


  1. Slotnik D. E. Susan Tyrell Oscar nominee dies at 67 New York Times June 21, 2012 Accessed July 2, 2016.
  2. accessed August 17, 2014
  3. Simonson, Robert (June 19, 2012). "Susan Tyrrell, Eccentric Presence of Stage and Film, Dies at 67". Playbill. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014. Retrieved May 2, 2014.
  4. Adams Sloan, Robin (October 2, 1972). "Susan Tyrrell, Electric Actress". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  5. McLellan, Dennis (June 20, 2012). "Susan Tyrrell dies at 67; actress an Oscar nominee for 'Fat City'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
  6. "S". Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  7. Simonson, Robert (June 19, 2012). "Susan Tyrrell, Eccentric Presence of Stage and Film, Dies at 67". Playbill. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
  8. Paul Cullum (November 1, 2000). "My So-Called Rotten Life Susan Tyrrell's sentimental journey through money, fame, sex and amputation". LA Weekly.
  9. Odam, Matthew. "Actress Susan Tyrell Dies at 67". Austin Movie Blog. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
  10. Stengle, Jamie (June 19, 2012). "Susan Tyrrell Dead: Oscar Nominated Actress Dies at 67". Huffpost Celebrity. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014. Retrieved May 2, 2014.
  11. "Susan Tyrrell". IMDb. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  12. "Susan Tyrrell - Broadway Theatre Credits, Photos, Who's Who". Playbill Vault. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  13. "Invitation to a Beheading". Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  14. Long, Quincy (1999). The Joy of Going Somewhere Definite. Dramatists Play Service Inc. p. 3. ISBN 9780822216735. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
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