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Jill Haworth: Cabaret Star on Broadway

Jill Haworth Exodus Eva Marie Saint
Jill Haworth in Exodus with Eva Marie Saint.
Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

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. Also in the cast were Michael York, Helmut Griem, and Marisa Berenson.

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.

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royce skepagny -

I’m afraid U R clueless. In Exodus Haworth had a major supporting role, not a minor one as U so wrongly state. In all 3 films she did for Premininger her roles in thm were quite pivotal. As for Cabaret the critics got it completely wrong which is common knowledge, today. Most critics who panned Haworth, now admit tht. Her performance was exactly right as Sally Bowles. Bowles was an amateur who deludedly believed she was a star. Haworth got tht and performed it perfectly. Hopefully, U now get it, also.

Ron -

She’s the best friend I ever had. I miss her so much. We became friends in the early 90’s – both of us having similar likes/dislikes. I never once asked her about her career – she’s always just ‘Jill.’

We’ve lived on the same block for a good chunk of the time. I’m so fortunate to have a friend who I could spend as much time with as Jill.

Like anyone, she could be difficult. But, she had the biggest heart.

She lived with her mother – a wonderful woman – Nancy. Always impeccubally dressed, the 2 of them – so different, yet, joined at the hip.

Nancy’s passing several years ago affected Jill – more than she’d admit. She became more of a ‘homebody,’ but her warmth, love (of her ‘children’ – a myriad of dogs & cats over the years) never diminished.

She lived right across the street from the crane accident in 2009. We were both there when it happened. The police had everyone evacuate. Jill wouldn’t leave without the cats.

Finally, she joined me and the others as we sat mid-block.

She kept thinking it was just a matter of time tilshe could go back in.

Not that night.

NYC put tenants up at various places around tbecity,until all was safe.

Even at the (very nice) ‘Y’ theyut Jill at, she always had a sense of fun and mischief. We made the best of it it, and many laughs.

One of the few films Jill & I ever talked about was a horror film she made with Frankie Avalon – who she absolutely loved.

While I’m fortunate that so much of Jill is on video, it’s the fun, the trouble that I miss.

Jill, from the bottom of my heart – thank you, for being my friend.

Betsy Kimble -

You didn’t mention that Jill Haworth & Sal Mineo were in love and engaged; She mourned his loss greatly when he was murdered. You also failed to mention that she contributed immeasurably to Michael Gregory Michaud’s wonderful tribute biography SAL MINEO ( which has been picked up for a movie), Ms Haworth was more than the B rated actress that you are portraying her, Mr Soames. She was loved by many friends who are now heartbroken. And she will be missed by many.


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