Phyllis Newman, the famous Broadway actress, was telling me how hard it was raising her two children. In an interview in 1981 at the Russian Tea Room she said, “Now that Adam and Amanda are grown up, I can be a liberated woman.” Adam had his bar mitzvah at Rodeph Sholom in Manhattan.
The night before, Phyllis opened downtown in “I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking it on the Road.” Her husband, the prominent playwright Adolph Green, was there but, she complained, “he doesn’t give me notes, only encouragement. It’s as if I had a husband in the shoe business rather than show business.”
Phyllis was born in Jersey City, NJ, to Jewish immigrants Rachel Gottlieb of Lithuania and Sigmund Arthur Newman of Warsaw. Her sister Shirley Porte was president of her chapter ORT, and another sister Elaine Sandlaufer was also active in ORT.
In 1977 she and her husband and children accompanied Leonard Bernstein to Israel where he conducted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. She’s passionate about Israel and supported Jewish causes. “If I got paid for all the benefits I did for UJA,” she said, “I’d be the richest woman in the world.”
Phyllis won a Tony Award in 1962 for best featured actress in a musical for “Subways Are for Sleeping,” written by husband Adolph and Betty Comden. Phyllis said her husband had voted for Barbra Streisand.
Phyllis died of a lung disorder at age 86 on Sept. 15, 2019, at her home in Manhattan.