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Betsy von Furstenberg, Actress and Aristocrat, Dies at 83

Betsy von Furstenberg, an elegant star of Broadway during the 1950s who also made appearances in early television and on daytime soaps, died April 21 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease in Manhattan. She was 83.

The stylish actress played a series of debutantes and society girls onstage. She made a big impression playing Myra Hagerman in Edward Chodorov’s original comedy “Oh, Men! Oh, Women!” on Broadway in 1953. (Barbara Rush played the role in the 1957 feature adaptation). During the decade she enjoyed success on the Rialto in plays including “The Chalk Garden,” “Child of Fortune,” “Nature’s Way” and a revival of “Much Ado About Nothing,”

She made her screen debut in director Géza von Radványi’s 1950 Italian war drama “Women Without Names.” During the 1950s she appeared in a number of episodic anthology shows beginning with “Starlight Theatre” in 1951 and also including “Playhouse 90,” “Pulitzer Prize Theatre,” “Armstrong Circle Theatre” and “Kraft Theatre.” She also guested on Western “Have Gun — Will Travel” and on “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” in 1958.

Later she appeared on soap “The Secret Storm” as Niele Neeves in 1973-74, on “Another World” as the Duchess of Essex in 1980 and on “As the World Turns” as Lisa Miller Hughes Eldridge Shea Colman McColl #3 in 1983-84.

Born in Germany as Elizabeth Caroline Maria Agatha Felicitas Therese von Furstenberg-Hedringen, she was the daughter of Count Franz-Egon von Furstenberg. She performed with the American Ballet Theatre when she was 7, studied acting with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse and made a splash with her stage debut in New York with Philip Barry’s “Second Threshold” in 1951: Life magazine put her on the cover and dubbed her “the most promising young actress of the year.”

Survivors include a son and a daughter; two grandchildren; and a half brother.

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