Eva Marie Saint is a rare phenomenon, an actress whose career in films, television and stage has spanned more than 60 years. She began her distinguished film career opposite Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront (1954), for which she was honored with an Academy Award. She went on to star in several other memorable movies, including That Certain Feeling (1956), North by Northwest (1959), A HATFUL OF RAIN (1957), Raintree County (1957), Exodus (1960), All Fall Down (1962), The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! (1966), Grand Prix (1966), The Stalking Moon (1968), Loving (1970), Nothing in Common (1986) and I Dreamed Of Africa (2000). Her recent films include Because of Winn-Dixie (2005), Don’t Come Knocking (2005), Superman Returns (2006) and Winter’s Tale (2014), starring Colin Farrell.
The names of her leading men read like a galaxy: Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, Richard Burton, Warren Beatty, James Garner, Jason Robards, George C. Scott, Burt Lancaster and Tom Hanks, with whom she co-starred in Nothing in Common.
The actress grew up in Delmar, New York and attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio with plans to become a schoolteacher. Trying out for a school play on a dare, she won the leading role and changed the direction of her life. The university has honored her with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree and renamed its main campus theatre to The Eva Marie Saint Theatre.
Upon graduation from Bowling Green, she went to New York City and studied at The American Theatre Wing and with Lee Strasberg at The Actors Studio. Launching her career during the Golden Age of Television, Saint was Emmy-nominated for several memorable TV presentations, then moved to Broadway in The Trip to Bountiful (1953), receiving the Drama Critics Award and Outer-Circle Critics Award for her performance. Director Elia Kazan saw her in the play and cast her in On the Waterfront.
In television, Saint’s first Emmy nomination was for The Philco Television Playhouse (1955). She sang the role of Emily in the live TV musical adaptation of Thorton Wilder’s Our Town (1955) with Frank Sinatra and Paul Newman, winning another Emmy nomination. Her third Emmy nod came for the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of Taxi!! (1978) and a fourth nomination came for the mini-series How the West Was Won (1977). In 1990, on her fifth Emmy nomination, she won the coveted award for the mini-series People Like Us (1990).
Her many other TV appearances include: playing Cybill Shepherd’s mother on the Moonlighting series, When Hell Was in Session (1979), Best Little Girl In The World (1981), Fatal Vision (1984), A Year in the Life (1986), The Last Days Of Patton (1986), Voyage of Terror: The Achille Lauro Affair (1990), My Antonia (1995), After Jimmy (1996), the Titanic mini-series (1996), Time To Say Goodbye? (1997) and Open House (2003). She also starred in four memorable holiday specials; A Christmas to Remember (1978), Breaking Home Ties (1987), I’ll Be Home for Christmas (1988) and Papa’s Angels (2000). She also has been a recurring character in the animated series The Legend of Korra. The iconic actress was a presenter at the 81st Annual Academy Awards in 2009 and 2018.
In addition to The Trip to Bountiful, she starred on the New York stage in The Lincoln Mask and Duet for One, and on major stages across America. She also co-starred with Henry Fonda in First Monday in October in Chicago and Los Angeles, and starred in Summer and Smoke and Desire Under The Elms at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Other plays she starred in include The Rainmaker, Candida, Winesburg, Ohio; The Fatal Weakness, and The Country Girl, for which she received the L.A. Drama-Logue Award. She also co-starred in a production of Death of a Salesman with Judd Hirsch. Saint and her late husband, director Jeffrey Hayden, produced a critically acclaimed production of August Wilson’s Fences (directed by Hayden) at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles in Summer 2006. The couple regularly performed A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters, as well as an evening of Willa Cather’s On The Divide in theatres around the country.
Saint and Hayden also produced the PBS television documentaries Primary Colors: The Story of Corita (1991), which she narrated, and Children in America’s Schools with Bill Moyers (1996) for which they won an Emmy.
Among her many charitable works, Saint has been a longtime supporter of the Motion Picture and Television Fund and the Epilepsy Foundation of Los Angeles. She was an early proponent of making cars cellphone free and created and distributed her own bumper sticker: Get Off the Phone or Get Off the Road. In addition, she serves on the Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship Committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
Saint had been married to Jeffrey Hayden for 65 years. He died in December 2016. They have two children, Darrell and Laurette. This in turn, has brought them four grandchildren, Tyler Dean, Molly Jo, Eli and Stella Pearl.