Countessdelave wrote: I went to high school in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the early 70s, one of my classes had a field trip to see "The Mystery Cycle", at ACT. Imagine my surprise and delight to see Mary Wickes in it, playing Noah's wife. She was funny and perfect in the role. I was struck by something written in the program's bio. It said that she was going to UCLA to get her Master's degree. Can you comment about this period of her life and why she decided to get her degree at this stage of her career?
I love this question
One of the things I came to admire most about Mary was her innate sense of fairness. Not just in regard to herself, but in regard to others around her as well. So when Washington University, her alma mater, gave her an honorary doctorate in the late 1960s, Mary felt that, to be fair, it was only right that she earn the master's degree to demonstrate that she deserved the doctorate.
She enrolled in UCLA for a master's in theatre arts (I can't recall if there was a specific discipline), and chose as her thesis subject the history of the Muny. The Muny is the grand Municipal Opera of St. Louis -- at 12,000+ seats, perhaps the largest outdoor theatre operating in the US. It holds a special place in St. Louis history -- and held special significance for Mary: She attended many performance there as a girl, developed her love of theatre in its seats, and later returned to perform there many times. But over the years, she became disenchanted with the Muny. This in itself was not uncommon with Mary, as various institutions fell in and out of favor with her based on her reaction to whatever decisions they were making at the time. But this was more personal than most, since it was rooted in resentment over her not being chosen to play Parthy Ann in a particular production of Show Boat
there in the 1960s. She had played Parthy Ann several times on that stage before and felt somehow entitled to it. When she was not offered the role, she mounted a campaign aimed at the Muny's board, which succeeded only in making her look rather silly. In short order, a thesis on the Muny lost its pull for her and she never finished it. She completed four chapters of what was to be a much larger effort. They are in her papers, but I have not read them.