Meryl's Trajectory Began With a Tragic Loss
On March 12, 1978, the man Meryl Streep had been dating for nearly two years died as she sat at his hospital bed. She had met John Cazale, the crane-like character actor best known for playing Fredo Corleone in the Godfather films, when they starred together in a Shakespeare in the Park production of Measure for Measure in the summer of 1976. From the beginning, they were an unusual pair: a pellucid 27-year-old beauty just a year out of the Yale School of Drama and a 41-year-old oddball with a forehead as high as a boulder and a penchant for Cuban cigars. But the romance was tragically short-lived. Only months after she moved into his Tribeca loft, Cazale was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. A few weeks after he died, Meryl's brother helped her pack up her belongings. He brought along a friend she had met once or twice--a sculptor named Don Gummer, who lived a few blocks away, in SoHo. Only weeks after losing the love of her life, she had found the second love of her life, the man who would become her husband. It was this Meryl Streep--simultaneously grieving and infatuated, a theatre actress new to movies--who got word from her agent, Sam Cohn, about a possible role in Kramer vs. Kramer.
Adapted from Her Again: Becoming Meryl Streep by Michael Schulman, 2016, which was published in Vanity Fair. Photo from the DC Moore Gallery, New York
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