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HOME > Biographical > 100 New Yorkers of the 1970s > WESTSIDER BETSY PALMER
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Star of Same Time, Next Year


"Oh, do you take shorthand?" said Betsy Palmer as we sat down in her dressing room to chat between shows. "I could always read and write shorthand. I worked for the B & O Railroad as a stenographer before I went away to school and learned acting. I guess if I had to, I could brush up and go back to it."

It's most unlikely that she'll ever have to. Even if her Tony Award winning play, Same Time, Next Year, should happen to close, Betsy would find herself swamped with offers for choice acting roles. But her hit show about the lighter side of adultery won't be closing for a long time yet. It is currently being made into a film starring Ellen Burstyn and Alan Alda.

"A lot of people think of me as a personality rather than an actress, and when they come to see me they expect to see that personality," says Palmer, who has one of the more recognizable names and faces on Broadway. "Mostly people know me from panel shows. It's been a double-edged sword for me. When they see me doing something that's really dramatic, they say, 'My God, she can act!'"

She has made countless appearances on What's My Line?, Girl Talk and The Today Show, but to most television viewers she is best remembered as the bright, beautiful, All-American girl who for 11 years was a panelist on I've Got a Secret.

During her years of TV stardom Betsy was doing plenty of serious acting — everything from Shakespeare to Peter Pan to Ibsen. She has made five Hollywood films and performed the lead in numerous Broadway shows, including South Pacific, Cactus Flower and Tennessee Williams' Eccentricities of a Nightingale. Few of her roles, however, have been as demanding as Doris in Same Time, Next Year.

To begin with, she and her co-star, Monte Markham, are the only characters in the play. Second, the play's action takes place over a period of 25 years, in which Doris goes through momentous changes. In doing this transformation smoothly, Betsy creates a character so believable and lovable that the audience forgives her for cheating on her husband, which she does one weekend a year in order to meet her lover George.

"Doing the play takes all my energy.I'm a single woman now, and have been for three years. But if I were involved with somebody now, it would take up a lot of my energies. So it doesn't bother me; when the time comes for me to be involved, I will be. Right now, I'm really quite satisfied to come here six days a week and ............
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