When Maureen Stapleton Became Our Grandmother Forever

35 years ago, the actress sang the body electric.

The handful of actresses I associate with motherhood include ’80s movie and TV staples Dee Wallace, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Joanna Kerns, Judith Light, and Meredith Baxter. They were the ones that comforted me when I was a kid. But when it comes to images of grandmothers, only one woman comes to mind: Maureen Stapleton.

On January 17, 1982, Stapleton was only 55 years old. She had three Academy Award nominations under her belt and was about to receive her fourth. She would win that Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at the end of March for her performance as Emma Goldman in Reds. But on this particular night, she was on television in the title role of The Electric Grandmother.

The Emmy-nominated NBC special, part of the network’s Peacock Theatre, was co-written by Ray Bradbury based on his 1962 Twilight Zone episode “I Sing the Body Electric,” the
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