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    Posted March 2, 2011

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Anne Diamond Brownstone

By Diana Brownstone

Anne Diamond Brownstone, passed away peacefully at the age of 87 on January 29, 2011 in her Manhattan apartment. She was known to the Equity Staff, members and Councillors from 1974 to 1989 as Assistant to Presidents Theodore Bikel, Ellen Burstyn and Colleen Dewhurst and as Council and Committee Secretary for the hundreds of committees of the Union which she managed. What many did not know was that this role was one she played in the Second Act of her life, and not what she had done or who she was in the First and Third Acts. My mother, Anne, never wanted to tell people who she had been or what she had done before working at Equity because her devotion to her job and the actors for whom she worked was absolute. She wanted to make the actors she worked with feel that their work and careers were the most important, and she loved to nurture them like a mother hen.

My mother was born in Pasadena, California and her performing career began in Hollywood in the 1930s in radio. She starred in hundreds of radio shows opposite every major star of the day including John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. The shows included Tarzan, This is Your FBI, Fibber McGee and Molly, Dr. Kildare, Lux Radio Theatre, Texas Rangers, NBC Star Playhouse, and many more. She used to describe how they'd get the script when they walked in the studio door and often had to play several different leading roles at the drop of a hat, live on the air. She had such a reputation that she didn't even have to audition; studio executives would just call her in to work. She did screen dubbing for French, Russian, Swedish, German and for Italian Films as the voice of Sylvano Mangano. She was there when Television first began, and she wrote and starred in early television shows. She played leading parts on dozens of series including Dragnet, Burns and Allen, Space Patrol, The Nurses, and Tombstone Territory.

Well-known in Hollywood and a regular leading actress at The Pasadena Playhouse, she was referred to as "The L'il Gem" in the popular column, "The Boulevardier," taken from her maiden name "Diamond." Her scrapbook is filled with clippings of sightings of her, even just eating lunch. She was in Michael Chekhov's professional workshop in Hollywood; played on stage on Broadway and throughout the country in regional and stock theatres and in one season alone at Arena Stage she played: Lady Britomart in MAJOR BARBARA, Charlotta Ivanovna in THE CHERRY ORCHARD, Cora in THE ICEMAN COMETH, Lady India in RING ROUND THE MOON, and Gloria in THREE MEN ON A HORSE.

My mother and father, stage manager/company manager Joseph Brownstone, toured the country with Sol Hurok's Productions and the first ever run of Disney on Parade along with their three children, until Joseph's sudden early death in 1970.

It was during her hiatus from the stage to raise her children that my mother entered Act II-working at Equity. For those 15 years in her office on the 16th floor, my mother knew everyone in the industry both inside and outside the Union, whether staff, actor, producer or anyone else, and was a liaison for helping everyone get connected to whomever they needed to get whatever business they needed accomplished. When she left, she was granted a Lifetime Membership to Actors' Equity by the Council for her devotion to actors and the Union.

For her final act, she returned to the stage in 1992 touring in such productions as Neil Simon's LOST IN YONKERS and MOON OVER BUFFALO at American Stage Festival and played Henrietta Szold on film and even did print work for a pharmaceutical company.

(Anne Brownstone is survived by her three children, Robert Brownstone, an attorney; Diana Brownstone, a Broadway Actress and Astrologer and former Equity Councillor; and Richard Brownstone, Upper School Dean/English Teacher at the Packer-Collegiate Institute, and three grandchildren. A memorial for the theatre community is being planned for the late spring this year. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorial donations be made to The Actors Fund of America.)

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