‘Norma Rae’ director Marcia Wertmueller dies at 68


“One of my friends recently donated two of her prints to the Signature Theatre, where they are hung next to my original portrait that hangs above my desk at work…My favorite quote, ‘Art imitates life,’” is the statement under my image that describes my style and personal life

NEW YORK (AP) — Marcia Wertmueller, the first woman nominated for an Academy Award as a first-time director, has died. She was 68.

The Writers Guild of America said Saturday that the death was confirmed by her agent, Howard Abramson. Abramson tells The Associated Press that the death was unexpected, and that a memorial is planned for the fall.

Wertmueller was nominated for best original screenplay for 1992’s “Norma Rae.” She won an Independent Spirit Award for best screenplay.

Her daughter, Phyllis Amenta, tweeted that her mother “was truly a community leader and a radical. I’m proud to call her my mom.”

Wertmueller was a longtime leader in efforts to organize sexual-assault victims in schools, and directed her first play and staged it during the 1995 strike at NBC’s WNBC-TV. She also co-founded the Sexual Assault Peer Mediation Center of New York, and, in 2002, she founded the Wertmueller Center for Vibrant Women, where she served as founding director.

The Writers Guild of America announced in 2013 that Wertmueller died at her home in Chelsea at the age of 68.

Her Oscar nomination came for writing the script to “Norma Rae,” a 1980 musical drama about a female textile worker in Georgia. The movie starred Sally Field as a widow who in 1980 decides to organize a clothing mill employing women in her workplace, and who becomes a role model to the employees. The director of the film was Richard Linklater.

In 2013, the Directors Guild of America named Wertmueller its International Director of the Year. She has two other Oscar nominations, for editing the movie “Love Story” in 1975 and producing “Cecil B. DeMille’s 10 Commandments” in 1963. She also was nominated for directing for “The In-Laws” in 2001.

Leave a Comment