Eva Marie Saint is a graceful actress best known for her Oscar-winning film debut in “On the Waterfront” and for her turn as a sultry spy in another 1950s film classic, “North by Northwest.”
Plucked from the Broadway stage by director Elia Kazan to portray Marlon Brando’s love interest in 1954’s "On the Waterfront," Saint emerged a star.
After Cary Grant dangled her from Mt. Rushmore in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller "North by Northwest," she continued to appear opposite some of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs — including Paul Newman in "Exodus" (1960), Yves Montand in "Grand Prix" (1966) and Gregory Peck in "The Stalking Moon" (1968).
When the movie roles faded — she only made about 20 films in more than 50 years — she found regular work on television beginning in the 1970s.
"As I got older, there weren’t that many roles," she said matter-of-factly in a 1990 Times interview. "I segued into TV and am perfectly happy."
She had a recurring role as Cybill Shepherd’s mother on the 1980s TV series "Moonlighting" and received an Emmy Award for playing a wealthy, self-centered woman who disowns her daughter in the 1990 miniseries "People Like Us."
More recently, she appeared in "Don’t Come Knocking" with Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard in 2005, the same year she made "Because of Winn-Dixie" with Jeff Daniels and Cicely Tyson. In 2006, she played the adoptive mother of the Man of Steel in "Superman Returns."
Before coming to Hollywood in the 1950s, Saint acted in TV dramas, including portraying a young woman who befriends an elderly woman (Lillian Gish) in Horton Foote’s "The Trip to Bountiful."
When a theatrical version of "Bountiful" opened in 1953 on Broadway, both women had starring roles and developed a close friendship. After director Kazan saw Saint’s stage performance, he cast her as Edie Doyle, Brando’s tough girlfriend in "On the Waterfront."
Brando was the finest actor she ever worked with, Saint later said. She called him “just a genius” and a “prince” who would put his jacket around her shoulders to protect her from the cold while they shot scenes on the Hoboken, N.J., waterfront.
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