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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Actress Dorothy Bryce Dies at 85

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Dorothy Bryce: actress was active in many local causes. Dave Matlow for
UPDATE Dorothy M. Bryce, an actress who with her late husband Ed, graced the stages of Broadway and local theater for more than 50 years, died today at her Westport home. She was 85.

Bryce, who was active in the Saugatuck Congregational Church as well as many local causes, including the Westport Historical Society, had appeared on soap operas such as “The Guiding Light” and “The Doctors.”

Three years ago she appeared in “Glacier Bay,” an independent short film shot locally in Fairfield County. A tender yet often shockingly funny portrait of two combative seniors, the film explored the enduring nature of love and relationships.

Bryce won a Best Actress award for her performance at the prestigious Breckenridge Film Festival.

In 1983, she was a charter member of The Theater Artists Workshop of Westport whose 150 participants made up a veritable who’s who of the Fairfield County theater world.

Survivors include three sons, actor Scott Bryce, a former longtime cast member of the soap opera “As the World Turns,” David, and Philip.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, May 30, at 1 p.m. at the Unitarian Church in Westport at 10 Lyons Plains Road.


(Editor’s note: The following obituary was prepared by the Bryce family.)

Dorothy Bryce passed away at home on May 21.

Dorothy was born in New York City, one of six children of theatrical parents. Her father David Macalister Mayne (called “Lester”) was a talent scout for the Keith-Albee Vaudeville circuit. He booked shows for New York’s Palace Theatre where as a young girl Dorothy met many famous people, including Mae West and the Marx Brothers. 

Her mother, Alice Hurley, worked for the Selznick family in silent motion pictures in Fort Lee, N.J.

Dorothy, her three sisters and her two brothers sang together as the “Mayne Choristers” and regularly sang in the Hammond Organ Company showroom window at West 47th Street and Broadway (now the TKTS booth) promoting the use of the Hammond organ in living rooms. 

They appeared at the World’s Fair in 1939 and sang at Grand Central Terminal during Easter and Christmas weeks. Their last appearance was at Grant’s Tomb on a Memorial Day weekend with Eleanor Roosevelt placing wreaths on the trees.

Dorothy’s performing career included roles as everything from a nun to a dope addict. She founded the Greenwich Mews Playhouse on West 13th Street and called the acting group “The Thirteen Players.” 

She produced and played roles in productions of plays and musicals including “Antigone,” “Kind Lady,” “The Guardsman,” “There’s Always Juliet” and “The Green Bay Tree.” She hired a leading man named Edward Bryce; they later married and had three sons.

In the early days of live television, she was featured on many prime time shows and had a one-year stint on Dave Garroway’s “Today Show” and on “The Home Show” with Hugh Downs and Arlene Francis.

She also performed in dozens of television commercials. While raising her children she appeared in a variety of daytime serials.

She also worked in regional and dinner theaters, with her favorite role being “Bessie” in the musical “Tobacco Road” at the Westport Country Playhouse.  She also played leading roles in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” “Bells Are Ringing,” “Man of La Mancha” and “The Sound of Music.” 

She produced and performed in the 70th anniversary show of the Westport Country Playhouse sponsored by the Westport Historical Society and in the “Stars In Our Eyes” cabaret at the Playhouse.

Most recently, she won the award for Best Actress at the Breckenridge Film Festival for her role in “Glacier Bay,” a short film about Alzheimer’s disease.

Dorothy has lived in Westport for more than 40 years, and has organized fund-raising events including cabaret shows and other special events for the causes in which she believed so strongly.

Dorothy was predeceased by her husband Ed Bryce, to whom she was married for more than 50 years.

She leaves behind three sons and their wives and children:  David of Weston, and his wife, Genie and daughter Heather; Philip of Ridgefield, and his wife Martha and son David; and Scott of Westport, and his wife Jodi and son Jackson. She also is survived by her sister Marian of San Diego, Calif. She was the matriarch of both the Bryce and Mayne families, all of whom will miss her deeply.

In lieu of flowers, please donate memorial gifts to Positive Directions, 420 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06880.

A memorial service will be held at the Unitarian Church in Westport on Saturday, May 30 at 1 p.m.

Posted 05/21 at 04:59 PM

Comments:     Comment Policy

She was a great lady with a huge heart…always willing to lend a helping hand whatever the cause. Irreplaceable!
Eve Potts

Posted by Eve Potts on May 22, 2009 at 02:20 PM | #

Dorothy was a class act, I was lucky to be able to call her a friend. I will remember her kindness and genorosity of spirit always. She will be greatly missed.

Posted by karen restuccia on May 22, 2009 at 11:38 PM | #

This news makes me feel so sad.  I thought Dorothy would continue on forever, and just the other day I was describing her to someone as “one of the nicest people I know”. She survived three serious bouts of cancer, and she was the go-to person to tell others that there is always HOPE when one has cancer. We loved seeing her at the Theatre Artists Workshop in Norwalk, and once I heard her speak to a small group of women at a PEO meeting (an organization that raises money for scholarships for women), and it was one of the most entertaining, delightful evenings I’ve spent. Rest in peace, darling Dorothy, and rejoin your wonderful husband, Ed. My condolences to their three sons and the extended family.

Posted by Longtime Westporter on May 23, 2009 at 01:06 AM | #

Dorothy was active in many Westport organizations, one of which was the Westport Historical Society.  She championed all that we did and was such a delightful person to have on our board/advisory council. All of Westport, and the theatre community beyond our town, will miss Dorothy so much.  Our kindest thoughts go out to the Bryce family.

Katie Chase

Posted by Katie Chase on May 23, 2009 at 08:03 PM | #

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