Born To Sing … And Dance, And Act


With her training she always found work as an actress in TV and film as well as theater even though LuPone says her face was not the easiest to cast.

Pointing to her face, LuPone says, "There's a big nose, there are big lips. It's an Italian face. I knew when I was 16-years-old, I didn't belong in this country.

"I was born here, but this is not Brooke Shields," LuPone adds dryly.

But her unconventional looks were perfect for the role that would change her life. In 1979, director Hal Prince cast her as Evita Peron, the controversial wife of Argentine Dictator Juan Peron, in the first U.S. production of "Evita."

Critics were unimpressed with the show — and with her — but "Evita" was a smash-hit anyway.

LuPone became a Broadway star and ended up winning a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. But there was a downside to playing a woman who many viewed as a monster.

"I went into it as an actress and I left it as a blond tap dancer — fascist tap dancer," LuPone jokes.

Even now, LuPone still endures comments that she is mean.

"How many years later is it? And people say, 'Oh, she's a real bitch.' And it's like well, give me a chance," LuPone says.

One person who did give her a chance was Matt Johnson, now her husband. They met in 1985 while LuPone was playing Lady Bird Johnson in the film "LBJ: The Early Years."

Their son Josh is 15, but she is definitely a working wife and mom. She has done many more plays, winning a second Tony nomination playing Reno Sweeney in "Anything Goes."

For four season, LuPone played the mother of a boy with Downs syndrome on the hit television series "Life Goes On."

But it has not all been smooth sailing. In 1989, she recreated the role of faded movie star Norma Desmond in the London version of Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Sunset Boulevard." But she was replaced by Glenn Close in the Broadway production. LuPone was so distraught that it was a year before she could bring herself to work again.

"It was devastating," she says.

But she did come back, invigorated with a healthy respect for her talent.

"I'm doing something I'm supposed to be doing," LuPone says, "and I'm thrilled to death I'm being allowed to do it."