Mary Stuart (actress)

Mary Stuart (actress)
Mary Stuart

Stuart as Joanne Tate with husband Arthur Tate (Terry O'Sullivan) in Search for Tomorrow.
Born Mary Stuart Houchins
July 4, 1926
Miami, Florida, USA
Died February 28, 2002
New York, New York, USA (aged 75)
Years active 1941–2002
Spouse Richard Krolik (1951–1966)
Wolfgang Neumann (1986–2002; her death)

Mary Stuart (July 4, 1926 – February 28, 2002) was an American actress and singer/songwriter.

She was born as Mary Stuart Houchins in Miami, Florida and grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she graduated from Tulsa Central High School and attended the University of Tulsa before embarking on her professional career.[1] Her middle name and eventual stage name was her mother's maiden name.




After appearing in various bit parts in several movies throughout the 1940s, Warner Brothers offered her a three-year contract in 1948. She appeared with such stars as Ronald Reagan (in The Girl from Jones Beach), Errol Flynn (in Adventures of Don Juan), Clark Gable (in The Hucksters), Esther Williams (in This Time for Keeps) and Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball (in The Big Street).


After her contract was terminated, CBS offered her a role in a new undertaking that would become known as the soap opera, or daytime serial. Their first project, The First Hundred Years, was short lived. It had been canceled after just one year on the air. The executives at CBS were wary of launching a second show, but they saw a future in soaps in the person of Mary Stuart after her screen test. It was then that they commissioned a second series. Stuart was cast as a midwestern housewife called Joanne Gardner. The new serial was called Search for Tomorrow and it turned out to be very successful. Stuart would become synonymous with her character.

Search for Tomorrow ran for thirty-five years until 1986 when it was finally canceled. During that time she was widowed three times and went through many trials and tribulations. She was the only soap star to receive a primetime Emmy nomination for performance in a series. (Shirley Booth won the award.) Also during her stint as Joanne, she and co-star Larry Haines were given special Emmy recognition for their work. After executive producer Paul Rauch offered her the role of Judge Webber on ABC's One Life to Live, Stuart settled into a retirement, having worked nearly 40 years without breaks. She wrote a short story that was published in a magazine, which was eventually made into a CBS movie of the week.

In 1996, she came out of retirement and accepted the role of Meta Bauer on Guiding Light, a part which had been played earlier by actress Ellen Demming. Stuart would play the role until her death. Coincidentally, Demming and Stuart both died in 2002, within weeks of each other.


A capable vocalist, Stuart collaborated with Percy Faith on an album in 1956 and with Michel Legrand in 1973. She also played guitar and she penned and sang songs on Search for Tomorrow. The character was an amateur singer/songwriter, and she would use her energies, happy or sad, to sing a song to convey what she was feeling, usually while she was alone.

Stuart would also sing and play guitar on Christmas episodes, including, but not limited to, one notable Christmas in which Stuart sang "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella" with actresses Ann Williams and Melissa Murphy, who played her sister and daughter at that time.

Stuart performed at her first public concert on January 8, 1974, at Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina. Stuart allegedly picked future soap actor Scott Holmes, who attended Catawba at the time, to be one of her impromptu backup singers.

Private life

Stuart married the CEO of Time/Life, Richard Krolik in August 1951, and gave birth to daughter Cynthia in 1955 and son Jeffrey in 1956. She and Krolik were divorced in 1966 and she later alleged in her book, Both of Me, that Krolik was a frequently verbally abusive husband. She recounted that she had secretly been writing a children's book and when she told Krolik, he threw the manuscript across the room, yelling, "How do you expect to write a book if you've never read one?" [1] The incident discouraged Stuart and she never sought out a publisher. After her divorce, Stuart cut her hair, which had grown to waist-length. Her character on Search for Tomorrow was known for her bun hairdo and the more modern hairstyle necessitated a major change in the storyline.

Her husband left New York to run an arm of Time/Life Broadcasting in Washington, D.C. While Jeffrey Krolik kept his birthname, Cynthia Krolik insisted on changing her name to Cynthia Stuart. Cynthia graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts and eventually became a journalist, writing for the Detroit Free Press, before following in her mother's footsteps as an actress. [2]

Jeffrey Krolik graduated from Dartmouth College, which was his father's alma mater, before moving to San Francisco; he became a regional sales director for HBO and was later appointed the general manager for Fox Sports Net Bay Area.[3] Jeffrey Krolik and Cynthia Stuart were both married in the Presbyterian Church, in which their mother raised them.

Mary Stuart remained single for two decades after her divorce before marrying Wolfgang Neumann in 1986; they remained married until Stuart's death in 2002.


When she died in 2002 of a stroke, it was revealed that Mary Stuart was also suffering from gastric cancer and bone cancer. She had previously undergone an endoscopy and an operation to remove a tumor in her stomach in 1999. Stuart had battled breast cancer earlier in her life. [4] She died the same month as actress Ellen Demming, who had played Meta for many years.

An apron Stuart wore while playing Jo on Search for Tomorrow currently hangs in the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. [5]


External links


  1. ^ All My Afternoons; Annie Gilbert, pub. 1978. p. 52

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