When Tammy Grimes was chosen as the lead for the original production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, she was so unknown that the producer’s name appeared above hers on the marquee. She won a Tony for her performance, but only as Best Supporting Actress. (The Tonys rules used marquee position to determine what category actors were eligible to win.)
Grimes (January 30, 1934-October 30, 2016) was a particular favorite for Noël Coward roles. The composer himself chose her to appear in his Look After Lulu in 1958 after seeing her perform cabaret. She went on to appear in High Spirits, an adaptation of his play Blithe Spirit, and a 1969 revival of Private Lives, for which she won the Tony for Best Actress.
Grimes prepared herself for the musical stage while at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. (Stephens has recently been ranked #6 in the nation for its theatre program by The Princeton Review.)
In addition to Broadway, Grimes appeared in movies, provided the voices for animated characters and even had a short-lived ABC sitcom. As recently as 2010, you could catch her singing cabaret at The Metropolitan Room in Manhattan.