Bovasso in 1956
|Born||Julia Anne Bovasso
August 1, 1930
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||September 14, 1991 (aged 61)
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Cause of death||Cancer|
|Spouse(s)||George Earl Ortman (divorced)|
Bovasso was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of that borough, the daughter of Angela Mary (née Padovani) and Bernard Michael Bovasso, a teamster. She was of Italian descent.
Bovasso appeared in numerous films, including Saturday Night Fever (1977) as Florence Manero, the mother of John Travolta character. She reprised the role in the film's 1983 sequel, Staying Alive. Prior to Saturday Night Fever, she appeared in appeared in the 1970 Otto Preminger film, Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon.
In addition to Staying Alive, she was a number of films in the 1980s, including Willie & Phil (1980), The Verdict (1982), Daniel (1983), Off Beat (1986), Wise Guys (1986), Moonstruck (1987). IN the 1990s, Bovasso was seen in Betsy's Wedding (1990) and My Blue Heaven (1990).
On-stage, Bavasso wrote and appeared in avant-garde productions off-Broadway such as Jean Genet's The Maids. For the latter, she won the first Best Actress Obie (Off-Broadway) Award in 1956, presented to her by Shelley Winters.
Prior to her film work, Bovasso established the experimental Tempo Playhouse at 4 St. Marks Place in Manhattan during the 1950s. There, she introduced works of the Theater of the Absurd, including those of the playwrights Jean Genet, Eugene Ionesco and Michel de Ghelderode, to the professional theater in the United States.
Bovasso also performed with The Living Theater and had a longstanding relationship with La Mama Experimental Theatre Club. Between 1968 and 1975, she directed many of her own original works at La MaMa, including Gloria and Esperanza, Schubert's Last Serenade, The Moondreamers, Standard Safety, and The Nothing Kid.
In addition to her work as a director and actor, her playwriting credits include the four-hour play Gloria and Esperanza, which Village Voice theatre critic Jerry Tallmer described as "a miracle, a mythopoetic fireworks display." A sought-after acting coach, Bovasso was known as an exacting instructor and her private New York workshops regularly included prominent performers. As per the DVD commentary, Bovasso coached both Cher and Olympia Dukakis on their Brooklyn accents in the film Moonstruck.
In her earlier acting days, she played Rose Corelli Fraser in the short-lived soap opera, From These Roots. She was subsequently fired from that show, due to a disagreement with producers.