Susan Tyrrell, 'Fat City' Oscar Nominee, Is Dead

The actress had a tragic life but delivered strong performances for John Huston and John Waters

Photo: Mary DiBiase/NY Daily News/Getty

Susan Tyrrell, a Best Supporting Actress nominee in 1972 for director John Huston’s Fat City, has died, her family confirms to PEOPLE.

According to, the actress died Sunday, and had been a resident of Austin, Texas, since 2008, it was reported by

In the John Huston boxing drama, which also starred Jeff Bridges and Stacy Keach, Tyrell, then 26, played Oma, a falling-down drunk. She later said that although Huston wanted to cast Faye Dunaway in the role, Tyrrell convinced the director to give her the job because a 26-year-old drunk would be more interesting than a 35-year-old one.

Tyrrell had only a sporadic career, but she did make her mark as Carroll Baker’s careless in-law in Andy Warhol’s Bad (1977), as a cigar chomping lesbian in 1984’s Angel and its sequel, Avenging Angel, the following year, and as Johnny Depp‘s grandmother Ramona Ricketts in John Waters’s 1990 Cry-Baby.

TV appearances included those on such shows as Baretta, Starsky and Hutch and Kojak, says

In 2000, Tyrrell contracted the rare blood disease essential thrombocytosis, which resulted in the loss of both legs. Nevertheless, she continued working, including in the 2003 movie Masked and Anonymous.

Born Susan Jillian Creamer in San Francisco, the daughter of a William Morris agent, Tyrrell was the subject of a lengthy New York Times profile in 1972, at the time of her Oscar nomination. In it, she revealed that she was simultaneously in love with three different men: a Connecticut tree surgeon who was acting as her manager, a convicted murderer in Soledad Prison whom she had never met, and a syphilitic Berber in Morocco.

“She had a colorful and difficult life,” writes Philadelphia-based film critic Carrie Rickey in a tribute to the actress. Coincidentally, Turner Classic Movies showed Fat City Monday night, as a favorite movie of the actress Ellen Barkin.

Additional reporting by OLIVER JONES

Related Articles