Well-known for her TV work as Gloria Stivic on the “All in the Family” sitcom, which ran from 1971-1979, she has continued to perform in all kinds of theater over the years.
A two-time Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award winner for “All in the Family,” Struthers also played starred in “Gloria” and “The Gilmore Girls” on TV.
Not everyone knows that Struthers is an activist for impoverished and mistreated children. She donates her time and money to “Save the Children” foundation and hopes others will do the same.
I observed her kindness in person when she was in New Hope two years ago to perform in “Clue.” During a press conference, instead of drawing attention to herself, she directed attention to her cast members, pointing out their talents.
Last week, she told me people stop her and hug her on the street when they realize who she is. It pleases her to hug them back. She cares about people and wishes more people would be kind to one another.
In “Always, Patsy Cline,” based on a true story, Struthers plays Louise, a woman who loves Patsy’s music, discovers Patsy is lonely, and becomes friends with her.
“I also changed up the role of Louise a bit and made her goofy and light-hearted,” she said. I could hear the smile in her voice as she said, “I made it my own role.”
As we talked about her role of Louise, once again, Struthers redirected my attention to Carter Calvert, the actress-singer portraying the title role in “Always, Patsy Cline.” Struthers said over the years she has played the role of Louise with 10 other actresses in this musical, but Calvert is so fine depicting Patsy, that she prefers to work only with Calvert now.
“Always, Patsy Cline” recounts the story of Louise hearing Cline singing on the Arthur Godfrey radio show in 1957 and immediately being mesmerized by her voice.
When Patsy came to sing in Houston in 1961, Louise and two friends arrived 1½ hours early, as did Patsy, looking and feeling lonely. Being friendly, Louise started a conversation with Patsy before her show began.
It’s lonely on the road going back to a hotel room alone after a performance, so afterward, Patsy accepted Louise’s invitation to join her at home for eggs, bacon and conversation. This is how the story of their sweet, poignant friendship began.
Ironically, Struthers is hired frequently to play a character totally opposite that of Louise. She often is called to play the nasty Miss Hannigan in “Annie,” who treats orphans badly. “I have to go to the dark side of my personality to play Hannigan,” she laughed. Soon she travels to Virginia, then to New Hampshire to play that role.
“I’m away from home a lot,” she said. Maybe I’ll live in my own California home about a total of four months in a year,” she added. That’s when she sees her grown daughter, Samantha Struthers Rader, a clinical psychologist.
Sally Struthers is happy to be back in the river town of New Hope and on the stage of the historic, refurbished Bucks County Playhouse on Main Street, New Hope, where you can see her have fun, empathize, and you can hear Carter Calvert sing 27 Patsy Cline songs, including “Crazy,” and “I Fall to Pieces.”
Previews begin Aug. 8; opening night is Aug. 10, and there are matinee and evening performances through Sept. 7
Tickets can be purchased by visiting buckscountyplayhouse.org
, by calling the box office at 215-862-2121, or stopping at the box office at 70 S. Main St., New Hope.
Sally Struthers is not only a fine actress, she’s a really nice person.