Tony-winning star of Broadway's The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Carlin Glynn, passed away July 13 after suffering from dementia and cancer. The news was shared by Glynn's daughter, stage and screen star Mary Stuart Masterson, on Instagram.
"She was the most graceful clumsy person you would ever meet," writes Masterson of her mother. "Strong, smart, silly, intuitive, kind, generous, passionate, and a deep listener. She was devoted to my father and to the enormous circle of students and collaborators who were considered her chosen family."
Glynn was born February 19, 1940, in Cleveland, Ohio, but was raised in Houston, Texas. She decided she would become an actor while attending Mirabeau B. Lamar High School, where she served as co-president of the dramatic society with Tommy Tune. Glynn would move to New York to study at The Actors Studio under Stella Adler and Wynn Handman before moving back to Houston, where she met local actor Peter Masterson while working with him at the Alley Theatre. They fell in love and were married in 1960. After the birth of their first daughter, Alexandra, the couple relocated to New York City so that Masterson could continue his acting career. Glynn left the business after modest success to raise the couple's children.
By the mid-1970s, Peter Masterson had re-focused his own career on directing and producing. After reading a non-fiction article about the closing of a surprisingly charming Texas brothel, he began writing the fictional musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas in collaboration with the article's writer, Larry L. King, and Texan songwriter Carol Hall. Glynn was coaxed out of retirement to create the role of Miss Mona Stangley, the madame of the musical's "Chicken Ranch." By the time the musical premiered at Off-Broadway's Entermedia Theatre in 1978, Glynn's high school chum Tommy Tune was co-choreographing (with Thommie Walsh) and co-directing with Masterson—a true family affair.
Irreverent, tuneful, and more than a little naughty, the show turned out to be a surprise hit, moving uptown to Broadway's 46th Street Theatre (now the Richard Rodgers, home to Hamilton) after just a few months. The production nabbed seven Tony nominations and two wins at the 1979 honors. One of those wins was for Glynn, taking Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her work. Glynn reprised her performance in the musical's 1982 Broadway revival.
Whorehouse came along shortly after Glynn had restarted her acting career, having made her big screen debut as Mae Barber in Three Days of the Condor in 1975. She also made memorable appearances in Sixteen Candles and The Trip to Bountiful (directed by Peter Masterson).
Glynn was pre-deceased by husband Masterson in 2018, and is survived by her children Mary Stuart Masterson, Alexandra Masterson, and Peter Masterson, Jr.