Ashley spent more than two decades as a Broadway star before becoming known to TV audiences playing the eccentric Aunt Frieda on "Evening Shade" (CBS, 1990-94). While still a teen-ager when she made her Broadway debut in 1959 in "The Highest Tree," she was a mere 22 when she won a Tony for "Take Her, She's Mine." A nervous breakdown, about which she later wrote in her book, "Postcards From the Road" (1978), almost derailed her career, but she bounced back, starring on Broadway as the idealistic young bride to Robert Redford's slightly stuffy groom in Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park" and has since gone on to shine as Maggie in the 1974 revival of Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," the chain-smoking psychiatrist in "Agnes of God" and in revivals of "The Skin of Our Teeth" and "Caesar and Cleopatra." In 1995, she returned once again to Broadway (and Williams) portraying Violet Venable in "Suddenly Last Summer."Ashley made her screen debut in "The Carpetbaggers" (1964), as the second of the women George Peppard loves and leaves on his way up the ladder. (They subsequently married after meeting on the film). In "Ship of Fools" (1965), she was a young married woman taking guidance from Vivien Leigh. Subsequent roles have been sporadic and decidedly supporting, including "The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday" (1976), "Paternity" (1981), and even "Dragnet" (1987). Ashley first appeared on TV in a 1960 episode of "The Dupont Show of the Month" and appeared in numerous episodics during the decade, as well as doing celebrity player turns on such game shows as "Password." She even guest hosted NBC's "Saturday Night Live" in 1982. Ashley made her TV-movie debut "Harpy" (CBS, 1971) and has occasionally participated in the genre. She also appeared on the NBC soap opera "Another World" for a short period in 1990, but her most extensive TV work was the four seasons she was a member of the ensemble of "Evening Shade," alongside her "Paternity" co-star Burt Reynolds. In 1996, she was cast as the eccentric romantic novelist with whom Brooke Shield must contend on the NBC sitcom pilot "Suddenly Susan." It was later announced, however, that the show would be completely overhauled and taken in a new direction, and Ashley's character was dropped.
All Apple Originals.
New Apple Originals every month. Watch on Apple devices, streaming platforms and smart TVs.