Summer 2010

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BY VALERIE YAROS SNAPSHOT Freeman as a child and young performer. Freeman performing with stage partner Wayne Tucker in their cabaret act in Los Angeles, late 1950s. KATHLEEN FREEMAN, 1923-2001: Mother of the SAG Conservatory who also served as its first chair. Today, nearly every Guild Branch from the East Coast, west to the islands of Hawaii, boasts its own conservatory, keeping Freeman’s legacy alive in a way that would make her proud. Freeman gave 22 years of her life as a National Board member and officer, yet perhaps nothing gave her greater satisfaction than helping her fellow actors grow and develop through the conservatory programs. In 1977, 26 members of the New Mexico Branch Conserva- T tory presented Freeman with a handmade embossed leather wall-hanging reading “With love from the students. We will miss you.” In 2006, this leatherwork was put on permanent display in the Guild’s Kathleen Freeman Room, a small meeting room at Guild headquarters, along with framed photos from her career and a letter from a “fan” who cast her in so many of his popular 36 SCREEN ACTOR - Summer 2010 he Screen Actors Guild Conservatory, “born” in Hollywood in 1972, could not have had a better “mother” — beloved character actor and teacher, Kathleen Freeman, comedies: Jerry Lewis. A “born trouper” who went onstage at age 3 with her vaudevil- lian parents, “Dixon and Freeman,” Freeman’s talent, discipline and dedication made for a life-long career on stage, screen and television that lasted until, amazingly, just five days before her death from lung cancer at age 78 in August 2001. She had been performing on Broadway as the piano player in Te Full Monty — a role which had earned her a Tony Award nomination. Trough the magic of celluloid, Freeman still can be seen and enjoyed through film appearances where she made the most of every role: the nun “Mary Stigmata” of the Blues Brothers films, Jerry Lewis’ support in over a dozen comedies and “Phoebe Dinsmore,” the stately vocal coach with the impeccable “rrr- round tones” in Singin’ in the Rain. Freeman explained the origin and goals of the conservatory in her Screen Actors Guild Legacy video, available to view at the Screen Actors Guild Foundation’s Actors Center. PHOTOS DONATED BY JANE JOHNSON

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