April 11, 1977 12:00 PM

Just possibly the most terrible pun and loveliest legacy Russel Crouse left America was his only daughter. Her name, Lindsay Ann Crouse, he derived coyly from his own (Howard) Lindsay & Crouse team that crafted such Broadway smashes as Life With Father, State of the Union and the book of The Sound of Music. Before his death in 1968, Crouse warned Lindsay Ann that the show world was “a dirty business.” Whatever he meant, there certainly was a lot of filthy lucre in it as his daughter has now also discovered.

In the past year, her first in movies, Lindsay Ann, 27, has already played opposite Hollywood’s Big Two. In All the President’s Men, she was the reporter whom Robert Redford cajoled into turning over her ex-boyfriend’s CREEP file. And currently, in Slap Shot, she somehow manages to shack in with hockey coach Paul Newman platonically and convincingly.

Lindsay is categorically her own woman, challenged but unintimidated by her heritage. The names dropping in at the family’s East Side Manhattan apartment included Edna Ferber, Irving Berlin, Mary Martin and Leland Hay-ward, but little Lindsay was hardly driven haywire. “They were just people around the house,” she felt. “I never thought of them being famous.” She remembers her dad as “a humble man. There would be a lot of typewriting going on at night. Occasionally, he would mention rehearsals, but he never invaded our lives with his work.”

Then there was her older brother Timothy, who fondly remembers Lindsay’s desire to perform—”She wormed her way into my puppet shows”—and recalls that their joint specialty was “the Nutcracker Suite, performed before a captive audience: Mother, Dad, the cook and laundress.” (He was the first star-kid in the family with his book, Boys on the Bus, a perceptive put-down of America’s political campaign journalism.)

After graduating from Radcliffe, Lindsay studied dance with Twyla Tharp, Alvin Ailey and Merce Cunningham, then caught on in Joe Papp’s Much Ado About Nothing. “I knew the silent world of the dance wasn’t enough,” she discovered. “I need to vent my feelings and express the intellectual.” Her next outlet was Noel Coward’s Present Laughter in Washington, D.C.

Bored with rehearsing one afternoon, the cast decided to try out as extras in All the President’s Men. “All dressed up, we looked like hobos going to church,” she laughs, but director Alan J. Pakula immediately hired her (and Jane [Eleanor and Franklin] Alexander). “Lindsay is an actress in the traditional sense—a rarity,” found colleague Jason Robards, who, when the movie was finished, promptly tapped her for the tippling maid in his production of Long Day’s Journey into Night.

Lindsay now nests alone with her two cats in an airy West Side Manhattan apartment. A vegetarian, “because it feels good,” she stays down to 117 pounds over 5’7″ with daily jogs and steams at the Y. She takes dance and voice lessons, goes to the theater and, for kicks, box steps at Roseland Ball room. “I love being waltzed around like a lady,” she coos. In her new film, opening this month, Between the Lines, Lindsay stars as an underground-newspaper photographer. “I feel empathy with this character,” declares Lindsay. “She is going 90 miles an hour in her career, and because she wants to be free to do what she wants, she has trouble making a relationship work on a profound level.” So Lindsay Crouse dates around, lately Hollywood character-whiz Robert (Network) Duvall during his Broadway refresher in American Buffalo. But she is a was-born-to-be-related-to. Back in 1950, her dad’s best friend scribbled her a mawkish welcome to the world: I wish I could be born too / Cause in 16 years or moo / I’d be saying I love oo! The author was Eugene O’Neill.

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