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Nan Martin, prolific stage, TV and film actress, dies

LOS ANGELES - Nan Martin, a stage, TV and film actress who played Ali MacGraw's snobbish mother in "Goodbye, Columbus" and was a mainstay on the Southern California theater scene for decades, has died. She was 82.

Martin, who suffered from emphysema, died Thursday at her home in Malibu, said her son Casey Dolan.

Among Martin's Broadway credits are a Tony-nominated role in Archibald MacLeish's "J.B." (1958-59), directed by Elia Kazan; "Under the Yum Yum Tree" (1960-61); and Tennessee Williams' "The Eccentricities of a Nightingale" (1976). She also was a mainstay actress in Joseph Papp's Shakespeare in the Park productions in New York in the early 1960s.

For 50 years, beginning in 1955, Martin amassed scores of television credits - including episodes of "The Untouchables," "The Twilight Zone," "NYPD Blue" and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." She also played the supporting role of Mrs. Louder on "The Drew Carey Show" and appeared in more than two dozen films, including "Toys in the Attic," "For Love of Ivy" and "Shallow Hal." In the 1969 comedy-drama "Goodbye, Columbus," Martin played opposite Jack Klugman as Mrs. Ben Patimkin, MacGraw's unflattering, nouveau-riche mother, who despises her daughter's unambitious new boyfriend, played by Richard Benjamin.

"She was so aloof with me during the shooting," MacGraw said of Martin in her autobiography, "Moving Pictures," "that it wasn't until the last day that I realized her behavior had all been in character."

Mothers became a staple of Martin's career, which also included playing lawyer Douglas Brackman's dying mother on "L.A. Law" and fiendish Freddy Krueger's mother (Sister Mary Helena/Amanda Krueger) in "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors."

One of her other notable roles at South Coast Repertory was that of Miss Helen in South African playwright Athol Fugard's three-person play "The Road to Mecca" in 1989. That led to her playing the same role - opposite Fugard himself as the preacher - at Washington's Kennedy Center; her performance earned her that city's Helen Hayes Award.

Martin was married twice. Her first husband, whom she divorced, was screen composer Robert Emmett Dolan, with whom she had a son, Casey.

Besides Casey, she is survived by her second husband, architect Harry Gesner, and their son, actor-producer Zen Gesner, and three grandsons.

- Los Angeles Times

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