Remembering Patsy Englund

“06880” Mark Basile was surprised that the death in January of his longtime friend — and fellow actor — Patsy Englund did not receive any local notice. She was 93. Mark writes:

I knew and loved Patsy for 26 years. We met at the Theatre Actors Workshop. She was a very impressive woman.

Patsy Englund

Patsy’s mother, Mabel Albertson, played Darren’s mother on “Bewitched.” Her uncle was Jack Albertson, Academy Award-winning actor for “The Subject Was Roses.”

Patsy was raised in Beverly Hills by Mabel Englund and  her husband Ken. He was a screenwriter whose credits include “No No Nanette” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”

At UCLA, Patsy was directed by Charlie Chaplin in a production of “Rain.” After college she went into the Broadway company of “Oklahoma!” She then did the London production, returning to New York to take over the role of Ado Annie. She also toured the US with that show.

Patsy was then cast in Katharine Hepburn’s Broadway production of “As You Like It.” That’s where she met Cloris Leachman — who married Patsy’s brother George.

Patsy Englund in “As You Like It.”

During the 1950s Patsy did dozens of live TV dramas, including “Playhouse 90” and “Studio One,” while continuing to perform on Broadway and in regional theater. She married Dunham Barney Lefferts. They had a son, Nick, who survives her.

For several years, the family rented a 1920s cottage on Norwalk Avenue in Westport. They then bought it, and Patsy lived there permanently from about 1962 to 2002.

She was visiting Nick when Hurricane Sandy destroyed the house. She moved back to California, and lived there until her death.

In the early 1960s — while living in Westport — Patsy performed in the groundbreaking political satire TV show “That Was the Week That Was,” with David Frost. She also starred on Broadway in “The Beauty Part,” with Larry Hagman.

Patsy Englund (2nd from left) in “The Beauty Part.” The show — which also starred Bert Lahr and Larry Hagman — opened during a newspaper strike. That cost the production valuable publicity.

Throughout the ’60s Patsy commuted to New York while acting on several long-running soap operas. She also worked at Long Wharf, the Manhattan Theatre Club — and the Westport Country Playhouse.

In the mid-’80s, Patsy helped Keir Dullea and his wife Susie Fuller form the Theatre Artists Workshop. Longtime members included Theodore Bikel, Morton DaCosta, David Rogers, Haila Stoddard, and Ring Lardner Jr.

They met once a week to workshop new plays, scenes and songs, to audition pieces, and get constructive critiques from peers. The Workshop was housed at Greens Farms Elementary School and the Westport Arts Center, before moving to Norwalk.

Patsy Englund with Jim Noble of “Benson” in rehearsal at the Theatre Arts Workshop.

Patsy performed many play readings — including benefits for the Westport Library, Westport Historical Society and Westport Woman’s Club — during her 55 years in Westport.

She loved Westport very much, and is one of the great Westporters who contributed so much to the artistic legacy of this town.

10 responses to “Remembering Patsy Englund

  1. Oh my gosh! I haven’t thought of Patsy Lefferts in years. My mother knew her when we used to rent summer cottages at Compo Beach in the early 60s (we lived in the city). My mother and Cloris Leachman were roommates in Manhattan after college and that was, I suppose, the connection. I was just a pre-teen, but I remember Patsy well. Very funny, very kind – as I recall.
    I’m sorry to hear of her passing. Condolences to her family.

  2. Directed by Chaplin! Wow, thanks. This was fascinating.

  3. Pat was a client of our salon for many years and a joy to be with. What a great spirit she brought into a room! Condolences to her family.

  4. thank you for this- great

  5. I loved Patsy. She was a wise, and very funny lady.

  6. Patsy was a singular sensation…a charming, unique performer and a smart witty woman who blessed us with her honesty and humor. Thank you for sharing this, Mark.

  7. A wonderful actor and lady. Farewell Ms. Englund.

  8. A fine tribute to a woman who was a big part of Westport’s theater heritage.

  9. Joseph Arroyo

    A wonderful friend and is missed daily.

  10. Thanks for this, Mark. A paid obit ran in the LA Times this week, and will in the New York Times shortly. I was remiss in not yet including the Westport News. You rendered us all a lovely service here — mom and me and all who knew Patsy, and those learning a bit about her for the first time.

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