Actress Jill Haworth, who was seen in a handful of movies and television shows since 1960 but who was best known as Broadway’s original Sally Bowles in Cabaret, died Monday, Jan. 3, of "natural causes" at her home in Manhattan. The British-born actress was 65.
Among Haworth’s film appearances are three minor roles for Otto Preminger: Exodus (1960), as Sal Mineo’s girlfriend; The Cardinal (1963); and In Harm’s Way (1965). Haworth had larger roles in a few other movies, but those were minor fare. Among them were B-horror flicks such as It! (1967), a retelling of the Golem tale co-starring Roddy McDowall; The Haunted House of Horror (1969), opposite former teen idol Frankie Avalon and veteran Dennis Price; and Tower of Evil / Horror on Snape Island (1974), with Bryant Haliday.
Considering some of the reviews the inexperienced Haworth received, her Sally Bowles was an unlikely success. As related in Haworth’s New York Times‘ obit, the Times‘ own Walter Kerr referred to Cabaret as "a stunning musical with one wild wrong note." That was Haworth, whom Kerr called "a damaging presence, worth no more to the show than her weight in mascara."
Regarding Haworth’s critical drubbing, Cabaret director Harold Prince explained to the Times earlier today that “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.”
Even so, Tony Award voters apparently sided with the critics. In 1967, Cabaret received a total of 11 nominations — including five for acting — but Haworth was left out. The musical ultimately won eight Tonys.
Liza Minnelli played (an American) Sally Bowles in the 1972 film adaptation directed by Bob Fosse. The acclaimed musical won a total of eight Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Actress for Minnelli, and Best Supporting Actor for Tony winner Joel Grey.
Previously, Julie Harris had played Sally in John Van Druten’s play I Am a Camera (based on Christopher Isherwood book The Berlin Stories), which was made into a movie starring Harris and Laurence Harvey in 1955. Judi Dench played Sally on the London stage.
According to the actress herself, Jill Haworth’s last name should be pronounced HAH-worth.