©Sidney Eden, 2002.
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When my Hebrew school presented JOSEPH & HIS COAT OF MANY COLORS (definitely not the Tim Rice version), guess what part I played? And when it came time for the Senior Class play I was Sheridan Whiteside, hands down. At fifteen I began studying Stanislavski with Anna Helen Reuter and appearing with her ensemble of older, more experienced troupers at the Chicago Musical College.. Still, I usually played the leading, or choke role (Mr. Antrobus, Menelaus, the Guthrie McClintic send-up in LIGHT UP THE SKY), and they (and I) must have thought I was hot stuff, whereas, I must have been awful.

So, it wasn't much of a jump three, or four years later, to be playing Nathan Detroit in Cain Park's 3, 500 seat amphitheater. I'd played a couple dozen roles at the Cleveland Playhouse and living in New York City introduced me to the denizens of Broadway. But by the time Kennedy took office, I ceased acting and began directing and producing for the next decade.

I returned to thespianism in Chicago, began doing on and off-camera commercials, industrials, (remember, Mayor Daley had outlawed major studio filming - though I did a bit in Gary for Ivan Dixon in SPOOK WHO SAT BY THE DOOR), and appearing in many plays (the most interesting, playing opposite Martha Raye, then Bob Crane), before founding the First Chicago Center Theater.

Some people (reviewers included) noticed my work, but my favorite notice came from Bruce Villanch, toiling as a critic for the Chicago DAILY NEWS, covering Arlington Park Theater's production of the decrepit melodrama DESPERATE HOURS with a cast of, mostly," heavyweight" NYC-Hollywood actors, including Hugh O'Brian, Constance Towers, Tom Ligon, Rebecca Balding, etc. Quoth the Midler-man in a death-notice:

"So the play is dated...That leaves us with the performances, a few of which are quite good...The best of these comes from Sidney Eden, who has one of the smallest parts .... He doesn't have a false moment." I love Bruce Villanch.

Following my adventures as a producer at the First Chicago Center Theater (an ongoing soap opera detailed almost daily in KUP'S COLUMN, pitting me against the First National Bank of Chicago)„ I talked W. H. Macy and a couple of his partners, Steven Schacter among them, into doing Juilan (LENNY) Barry's new play SITCOM, a wild, bitter, funny affair, with enormous relevance to today's global confrontation. The piece was so controversial, Macy's partner, a guy named Mamet, so disliked the property, that he resigned as Artistic Director of the theater in question, a space they called St. Nicholas (later the home of Steppenwolf, too). Mamet had just had a hit with SEXUAL PERVERSITY, etc., and his AMERICA BUFFALO was currently playing (after it's success at the Goodman) an extended engagement at the St. Nicholas with J.J. Johnson, Mike Nussbaum and Macy in their original roles. Mamet thought the play was anti-Semitic; some of the audience were equally confused, but Julian and I weren't. Yet, it took my getting Ehud Avriel, the Israeli hero and head of the Midwest consulate to give his stamp of approval before the audience (and Mamet - who liked my performance) got the play's drift. I played the role of Leonard Poetry, a sort of Alonzo Music, if you know who he was; a villainous television host who's escaped Auschwitz to rise to the top of network TV. Glenna Syse, in the SUN-TIMES called my performance "a splendid portrayal of vicious slime" and Richard Christiansen in the NEWS labeled me "superb as the craven, slick-speiling author of the TV show".

After my GJN in REVUE was presented at the Goodman, and my unsuccessful militating for a repertory theater at Navy Pier, I returned to NYC once more, doing commercials, industrials, features and soaps, appearing on and off-Broadway in ARE YOU NOW OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN?, with some strong actors like Avery Brooks, Tom Brennan, Mike Kellin, Ray Baker, and guest appearances by Liza Minnelli, et., etc., in the Lillian Hellman role. My best-ever New York area role came in Jay Broad's A CONFLICT OF INTEREST, which starred Barnard Hughes, Ed Binns and Roland winters, and was directed by my friend and longtime mentor, Jose Ferrer. We played PAF on Long Island with excellent notices in THE NEW YORK TIMES, etc., the Stamford Playhouse, and, then, filmed it for SHOWTIME. My role, a small one compared to the leads, was nevertheless pivotal in the playwright's concept as the play ended with me in a pool of light dead center with the President of the United States. (I was his henchman.) Unfortunately, for me, at least one of the star's found my prominence unbearable seven though I was the initiator of the play's action). Jay Broad, end, even, Joe, caved-in, and my role was shortened.



Read the article "Sidney Eden In Union, Strength" on the AEA web site.



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Sidney Eden


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