Bella Jarrett, stage and screen actress, dies at 81
Bella Jarrett, an actress in regional, Off-Broadway and Broadway theater for 50 years, died Oct. 19 at her home in Greenwich Village. She lived on W. 13th St. for 40 years.
Born in Adairsville, Ga., on Feb. 9, 1926, Jarrett began her acting career at Wesleyan College in Macon, Ga., where she received Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees.
In her half-century as a professional actress, she performed with some of the nations most distinguished acting companies the Atlanta Alliance Theatre, the Alley Theatre in Houston, Bostons Huntington Theatre, the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., and the Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis.
In 1991, The New York Times said of her performance in a Pearl Theater Company production of Euripidess classic The Trojan Women, Bella Jarrett is a terrific Hecuba, a dangerous fury filled with contempt and sorrow, who knows how to make words caress, or lash and tear.
In the 1980s, Jarrett was a principal performer at the Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis. During her decade with the theater there, she performed in 40 roles, including that of Mary Tyrone in Eugene ONeills Long Days Journey Into Night; Sister Mary in Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You; and Thelma in Marsha Normans Night, Mother. In 1985, she was honored as Best Actress in a Drama, awarded by Indianapoliss Outlook Magazine for her role in Night, Mother. She received the Outlook Oration Award and was named Indianapoliss Best Actress of 1989. Among her other acclaimed roles were Julia in The Cocktail Party and Stella in Light Up the Sky.
Jarretts Broadway appearances were as Miss Leighton in a revival of Once in a Lifetime in 1978, and as Constance Apple in Edward Albees Lolita in 1981. A sampling of her Off-Broadway performances included playing Mrs. Croaker in Goldsmiths The Good Naturd Man in 1993; Oenone in Racines Phaedra in 1993; as well as Mme. St. Pé in The Waltz of the Toreadors. Earlier, she played the nurse in Welcome to Andromeda in 1973.
Her talents ranged widely from countless stage roles, to daytime television parts in All My Children, Another World and One Life to Live, to roles in such films as Arthur, The Cotton Club, The Lonely Guy, Hellfighters and in the Merchant Ivory production of Jane Austen in Manhattan in 1980.
Jarrett had been a member of the Bedside Network, a group that read and performed for the chronically ill, and a volunteer through Call for Action, a WABC-related consumer-advocate program. She was a member of Mensa International, a little-known piece of information among her closest friends and associates.
Jarrett published four romance novels, two under the pseudonym Belle Thorne, from 1979-1982. She was an advertising copywriter for Richs Department Store in Atlanta, and for Sterns and Abercrombie & Fitch in New York City.
A frequent writer of letters to the editor, she criticized Ed Koch in a letter to The Villager for supporting President Bush and giving away the ending of Million Dollar Baby in a movie review.
She is survived by her nephews, John Brodie, of San Diego, Cal., and Wick Jarrett, of Adairsville, Ga.