‘Do as Shirley Did.’ Marcia Cross on the Legacy of Actor Shirley Knight

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Thinking about what I wanted to write about Shirley Knight, who died on April 22 at 83, I went back and looked at some of our work together on Desperate Housewives.

Instead of being sad about her not being with us anymore, I found myself laughing hysterically. Shirley, who got her first Oscar nomination in 1961 and had won three Emmy Awards by the time we worked together, played my dead husband’s mother–and boy, did we get into it. Our characters were beautifully written, and we had a blast playing off each other. On camera, we sparred–and I once even slapped her across the face–but off camera, we got along famously. She was warm and funny and talked endlessly about her daughters, whom she loved dearly. She was a woman of no pretense, just a love of the work and of her life.

I always refer to her example when I think of myself as an actress aging in my profession: Do as Shirley did. Do the work, and all will be well.

TIME.com

Thinking about what I wanted to write about Shirley Knight, who died on April 22 at 83, I went back and looked at some of our work together on Desperate Housewives.

Instead of being sad about her not being with us anymore, I found myself laughing hysterically. Shirley, who got her first Oscar nomination in 1961 and had won three Emmy Awards by the time we worked together, played my dead husband’s mother–and boy, did we get into it. Our characters were beautifully written, and we had a blast playing off each other. On camera, we sparred–and I once even slapped her across the face–but off camera, we got along famously. She was warm and funny and talked endlessly about her daughters, whom she loved dearly. She was a woman of no pretense, just a love of the work and of her life.

I always refer to her example when I think of myself as an actress aging in my profession: Do as Shirley did. Do the work, and all will be well.

This appears in the May 11, 2020 issue of TIME.

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