Susan Tyrrell (born Susan Jillian Creamer; March 18, 1945 in San Francisco, California – June 16, 2012 in Austin, Texas) was a film, stage and television 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."
Tyrrell was born in San Francisco, California, to a British mother, Gillian (née Tyrrell 1913-2012); and an American father, John 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. 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 Her father also persuaded Look magazine to follow her as she toured with the show but died shortly afterwards.
Tyrrell made her Broadway debut in 1965 as a replacement performer in the comedy Cactus Flower. 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.
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 1978, the actress won the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Bad (1977).
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. Other appearances included roles in Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981) and Night Warning (1982).
In 1985 Tyrrell played Solly, in the sexploitation film Angel and its 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. 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.
Tyrrell suffered from and in 2012 succumbed to essential thrombocytosis, a disease of the blood. In early 2000, her disease was complicated by bilateral below knee amputations. In 2000, 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, the actress moved to Austin, Texas, to be closer to her niece and died there on June 16, 2012. In January 2012, Tyrrell wrote in her journal, "I demand my death be joyful and I never return again." Following her death, she was cremated and her ashes scattered.
|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||Zandy's Bride||Maria Cordova|
|1976||The Killer Inside Me||Joyce Lakeland|
|1977||Andy Warhol's Bad||Mary Aiken||Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress|
|1980||Forbidden Zone||Queen Doris of the Sixth Dimension / Ruth Henderson|
|1981||Tales of Ordinary Madness||Vera|
|1982||Night Warning||Cheryl Roberts (Aunt Cheryl)|
|1983||Fire and Ice||Juliana||Voice|
|1985||Avenging Angel||Solly Mosler|
|1987||From a Whisper to a Scream||Beth Chandler|
|The Chipmunk Adventure||Claudia Furschtein||Voice|
|The Underachievers||Mrs. Grant|
|1988||Big Top Pee-wee||Midge Montana|
|1989||Far from Home||Agnes Reed|
|Rockula||Chuck the Bartender|
|2003||Masked and Anonymous||Ella the Fortune Teller|
|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||Open All Night||Gretchen Feester||1981-82|
|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"|
Awards and nominations
|1973||Fat City||NSFC Award||Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|Fat City||NYFCC Award||Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|Fat City||Academy Award||Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|1978||Andy Warhol's Bad||Saturn Award||Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|1967||The Rimers of Eldritch||Patsy Johnson||Cherry Lane Theatre|
|1968||Cactus Flower||Botticelli's Springtime [Replacement]
Toni (Understudy) [Replacement]
|Invitation to a Beheading||Marthe||The Public Theater|
|A Cry of Players||Jenny||Broadway|
|The Time of Your Life||Kitty Duval||Broadway|
|1970||Camino Real||Esmeralda||Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center|
|1979||Father's Day||Louise||The American Place Theatre|
|1992||Susan Tyrrell: My Rotten Life, a Bitter Operetta||The Woman||n.a|
|1997||The Joy of Going Somewhere Definite||Patsy, Older Woman, Waitress||Center Theatre Group|