×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lucy Saroyan

Actress

Lucy Saroyan, a former actress who struggled for years over her estrangement from her famous father, author William Saroyan, died April 11 in Thousand Oaks, Calif. She was 57.

The cause was cirrhosis of the liver complicated by hepatitis C, said her brother, Aram, of Los Angeles. She is also survived by her mother, Carol Matthau, of New York.

Lucy Saroyan was born in San Francisco. She was the second child of her father and the former Carol Marcus.

The marriage took place at the peak of Saroyan’s fame. His novel “The Human Comedy” had been turned into an Oscar-winning pic and his play “The Time of Your Life” had won the 1940 Pulitzer prize for drama.

He became known for stories that celebrated brotherhood and tight-knit families. But his own family life was disastrous.

He married and divorced Marcus twice in eight years, the final break coming in 1952. Her later marriage to thesp Walter Matthau lasted 41 years, but Saroyan never remarried. By his own choosing, he had almost no contact with his children in his last years. In the end, he essentially disinherited them, leaving the bulk of his $1.3-million estate to the William Saroyan Foundation.

Lucy Saroyan attended the exclusive Dalton School in New York before enrolling at Northwestern University in Chicago. She dropped out of college and enrolled at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York, did voiceovers and worked as a dresser for her stepfather Matthau in the Broadway production of “The Odd Couple.” She eventually was able to make a living as an actress with small parts on Broadway and off-Broadway and in summer stock.

She later moved to California and worked in TV and film. Her brother said one of her favorite roles was a small part in the 1980 spy caper “Hopscotch,” which starred Matthau. She made minor appearances in 22 movies, including “Greased Lightning” (1977), in which she played Beau Bridges’ wife, and “Blue Collar” (1978), in which she played Harvey Keitel’s wife.

She also worked as a film library archivist and in bookstores. She conducted interviews with personalities such as New York cafe owner Elaine Kaufman and director James Toback, which Andy Warhol published in his Interview magazine.

As she matured, however, she found it increasingly hard to win her father’s favor. He disapproved of his never-married daughter’s lifestyle — particularly an affair she said she had with Marlon Brando — and her lack of career success. Lucy tried to stay in touch with her father, writing him warm, conciliatory letters every New Year’s Eve for several years, even though he never answered.

In 1981, during his last days, the author relayed his desire to spend an hour or two with Lucy. But he began to berate her even before she crossed the threshold of his Fresno house. She rushed from the house in tears.

A few weeks later, he grudgingly granted her a final meeting. “He told me he loved me,” she said. “And he kissed me.”

Her ashes were interred at Ararat Cemetery in Fresno, near those of her father.

More Scene

  • Nicole KidmanWarner Bros. Pictures World Premiere

    How James Wan Convinced Nicole Kidman to Star in 'Aquaman'

    While some actors dream of playing a superhero, that wasn’t the case for the cast of “Aquaman.” “I knew nothing about this,” Amber Heard, who plays Mera in the James Wan-directed action film, told Variety at the movie’s Los Angeles premiere. “I knew nothing about comic books in general. I didn’t know anything about this [...]

  • Hugh Jackman'To Kill a Mockingbird' Broadway

    'To Kill a Mockingbird's' Starry Opening: Oprah, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and More

    The Shubert Theatre in New York City last was filled on Thursday night with Oscar winners, media titans, and, of course, Broadway legends who came out for the opening of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The starry guest list included Oprah Winfrey, Barry Diller, “Les Misérables” co-stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Gayle King, [...]

  • Clint Eastwood and Alison Eastwood'The Mule'

    Clint Eastwood: Why Alison Eastwood Came Out of Acting Retirement for Her Dad

    Clint Eastwood’s daughter Alison Eastwood was done with acting after appearing in 2014’s “Finding Harmony.” Or so she thought. It was a Friday night and she and her husband were heading to dinner when her father’s producer Sam Moore called. “He [says], ‘You know, your dad wants you to do this film,” Alison recalls. “I [...]

  • John CenaSports Illustrated Sportsperson of the

    John Cena on WWE's Acceptance by Hollywood and the Professional Sports World

    John Cena says the WWE is finally getting the attention it deserves by Hollywood and the professional sports world. “I’m just glad that no longer are we looked down upon, not only by the sport industry, but by the performing arts industry,” Cena told Variety on Tuesday night in Beverly Hills at Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of [...]

  • Steve Carell Welcome to Marwen

    Steve Carell on New Film 'Welcome to Marwen' and Reprising His 'Anchorman' Character

    In 2000, Mark Hogancamp was nearly beaten to death by five men outside of a bar. Left with brain damage and little money to afford therapy, Hogancamp began creating miniature doll versions of himself, his friends, and his attackers as a way to cope. This true story inspired the 2010 documentary “Marwencol” and the upcoming [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content