Theatre Days

jada's theatrical life

This page has only just begun to be constructed as everything was missing (after the Great Computer Crash of November 2011) and some of the below may be slightly inaccurate due to faulty memory. See the bottom of the page for links)

jada's theatrical life began 'off-off-off-Bway'.....



1946-King and Coit's school for children - -The first play jada appeared in (at three years old) was the French medieval play, "Nicolette andAucausin".
(This weekend 'school', a sort of 'finishing' school, was created and run by Miss Edith King and Miss Dorothy Coit and Miss Rosemary Beenk. Miss Coit, in charge of storytelling or 'acting'. and Miss King, who was in charge of painting and set design (in which all the children participated. Their method included teaching the styles of the period or culture of the current play. Miss Beenk was in charge of dance and movement (also appropriate to the period and culture). Apparently, some performances were even reviewed in the NYTimes and the Ford Foundation was reputed to have wanted to donate to the continuation of the school beyond the lifetimes of the two founders but Miss Coit refused because she didn't believe anyone else would live up to her vision.


1947- King and Coit -William Makepeace Thackerey's "The Rose and The Ring"


1948-King and Coit -"Dramatization of William Blake's Poetry", King & Coit's. It was in this production, in one of the very few performances given of these exquisite productions by King&Coit's, that jada (in a starring role that night) was seen by Katharine Cornell, the (then) 'First Lady' of the Broadway theatre. Miss Cornell asked jada if she would like to play her daughter on Broadway the coming season. jada's parents thought it would be a one-time thing she could tell her grandchildren about and asked jada if she wanted to do it?.... jada said, "Why not?!"

Subsequently, and often, simultaneously, with her Broadway/radio/television performances, jada appeared at King and Coits in various other shows:
Nala and Damayanti, an Indian love story
The Tempest (an abridged version)
Thackery's "The Rose and The Ring" twice ( she appeared first, at 4 years old as the "Dirty Match Girl" and later, at twelve, in her farewell performance as the "Fairy Blackstick".
(Miss King and Miss Coit ruled that children could no longer perform in their productions once they had reached puberty.)

Other children who performed in productions of King & Coits include: Jenny Hecht (Ben Hecht's daughter who became a great friend of jada's and very sadly died in her early twenties), Mildred Dunnick's daughter, Mathew and Christopher Cowles, (possibly Christopher and Glen Walken as well ), Margo Berdischefski. Tommy Rowland (jada's mother), when she was a child, also attended the school. (Miss King and Miss Coit were rather elderly by the time jada attended their school). jada's own brothers, Gregor (who appeared with her later in, "Season In the Sun." Greg left the business and more recently was a 'First Responder' after Sept.11 as he worked for the MTA in New York City. jada's younger brother, Jeffrey Rowland (see below for links) was also a performer . Jeff had an extensive career of his own in the theatre, including performing with Jane Fonda in "Wedding March" on Broadway and appearing on television in "As The World Turns". He played a character named, "Dan Stewart". Later, when the producers decided they needed fewer teenagers and more adults on the show, they replaced Jeff with an adult actor and quickly gave the character a wife, "Susan". jada, even later, replaced the actress who played "Susan Stewart" - thereby becoming married to her own a theatrical sense.

Jada's son, Sparks Blue Grassly, is also an actor. (see below for link)




"That Lady", (11/22/1949 - 1/28/1950) onBroadway starring Katharine Cornell and Henry Daniel. In Act One, jada played their daughter (the Infanta Princess Anichu) , Marian Seldes played the Princess when grown up. Douglas Watson also appeared in the production.


"Crimes and Crimes" (possibly produced in Cambridge, Mass.?)


"House of Bernarda Alba", (Jan 7, 1951 - Jan 20, 1951) starring Katrina Paxinou and Kim Stanley


"Season In The Sun", (9/28/1950 - 5/12/1951) starring Nancy Kelly and Tony Anthony ?

jada was an alternate to Kathy Chapman. jada's older brother, Gregor, also was in the play (his only one). Later, in 1952, when jada was appearing in "Mrs. Mcthing" at the Morosco theatre, a play called"Wish You Were Here" was playing at the adjacent, Imperial Theatre and they had an actual pool in the center of the stage (much to the envy of jada and her older brother, who although "Season in the Sun" had been set in Fire Island and they wore bathing suits through much of the play, they never got to do any swimming. jada's brother, Gregor, and she used to climb along the catwalk (during the part of the play she wasn't in) and peer down at the swimming production from high above.


May 28, 1952 - June 8, 1952

"Sunday Breakfast", starring jada and Peggy Feury, who played her mother (she was replaced during rehearsals by Cloris Leachman ), directed by Stella Adler and Harold Clurman
jada apparently got rave reviews and a big reception at Sardi's on opening night...but the play was panned.


"Mrs. McThing", (Feb 20, 1952 - Jan 10, 1953) starring Helen Hayes

and also Fred Gwynne, Frank Cosaro

jada, joined the cast after it opened as an alternate to Lydia Reed. Helen Hayes had wanted jada for the opening but she had already signed a contract to star in the ill-fated, "Sunday Breakfast" and only when it closed after two weeks, was she able to join the cast. Later, on the first run tour, Miss Haye's son James McArther also performed in the production. The cast met President Eisenhower when they arrived in Denver on their way to performing for a month in Central City, Colorado.


"The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker", (Dec 30, 1953 - Jul 10, 1954) starring Burgess Meredith. jada performed in this twice, once on Broadway, as a replacement, playing one of his youngest daughters and then later on, in summer theatre playing his eldest daughter, Elizabeth.

Roger Sturdevant, now a casting agent, played the oldest boy in the summer production and John McGiver, an acting teacher also performed in that production. We performed in places like, Westport, CT and Ogunquit, Maine,


"Cold Wind and the Warm" (12/8/1958 - 3/21/1959) by S.N. Berhman,  
Morosco Theatre,
Dec 8, 1958
Closing Mar 21, 1959
Total Performances:120
Category: Play, Drama, Original, Broadway
Setting: 1908-1914. Worcester, Massachusettes adn New York City.
Opening Night Production Credits
Produced by The Producers Theatre
Written by S. N. Behrman; Suggested by "The Worcester Account" by S. N. Behrman
Staged by Harold Clurman
Scenic Design by Boris Aronson; Costume Design by Motley; Lighting Design by Feder
General Manager: Oscar Olesen; Company Manager: Robert Hector
Stage Manager: James Gelb and Walter Neal
Press Representative: Barry Hyams, Lila Glaser, Shirley Herz and Bob Ullman
Opening Night Cast
Sidney Armus -Dan 
Sig Arno -Rappaport 
Morris Carnovsky -Mr. Sacher 
Timmy Everett -Tobey 
Vincent Gardenia -Jim Nightengale. (Vincent Gardenia delighted in tellng me bizarre and funny tales purporting to be true and which I believed wide-eyed until, months later, i would find out that he had made them up) 
Carol Grace (later to be Walter Mathau's wife) -Myra (Walter Mathau worked with me several times and became friends with my family - which included:visiting us on board the yacht we lived on for two years at the 79th St. Boat Basin and climbing up to visit me in my 3rd floor dressing room while in this play) 
Sanford Meisner (very well known acting teacher)-Norbert Mandel 
Suzanne Pleshette -Leah 
Jada Rowland -Ren 
Maureen Stapleton (who played my mother) -Ida 
Peter Trytler -Aaron 
Eli Wallach (who played my father) -Willie 


Non-Broadway Plays included:

"The Dark At The Top of the Stairs" (1959-1960 Bus and Truck production), starring Joan Blondell
'Dark' played 99 one-night stands, (211 performances all told) including longer runs in some places, such as, Los Angeles (3 weeks), Washington, D.C (two weeks)
In Houston jada met and became friends with the granddaughter of L.Slade Brown at the Fat Stock Show (which, I think, was going on in the same giant stadium where the play was being performed). The stadium was divided and on one side was the play and on the other, the Fat Stock Show. One morning, during the run, jada had breakfast with Mr. Brown and Governor Connolly at the Rice Hotel.

Joan Blondell, in another town, met and flirted with Gorgeous George, the wrestler.


"Absurd Person Singular" (an 'airplane' tour of soap actors), starring jada, Ron Tomme, William Espy, Julia Barr, Kate Mulgrew and others.
We would be flown out for weekend performances while still performing on our various daytime series.

TV SHOWS INCLUDED: All the old "Golden Age of Television" shows:

U.S Steel:

Lux Playhouse

Schlitz Playhouse

Philco Hour

Producers Showcase

A few specific show titles include:

The Women (starring Paulette Goddard, Shelly Winters, Nita Talbot)

The Devil and Daniel Webster (starring Morris Evans,),

F.Scott Fitzgerald drama (title?)(starring Kevin McCarthy as jada's father),

The first color broadcast from the NBC studios in Brooklyn, drama about Abraham Lincoln (jada played his daugher)

Aproduction of the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Channel) (the title of the show eludes me at the moment) as well as a separate radio production (title of which also eludes me) during the same visit. The radio show had a tradition of patrioticcally ending the show with the cast singing, "God Save Our Gracious Queen" which has the same melody as the U.S' "My Country Tis of Thee" and the first time we sang it, apparently, nine year old jada was heard to say that they, "Stole our song!"The Canadian newspaper of the time (in Toronto) apparently also wrote that they didn't understnad why the CBC had to import and American "moppet" when they had fine ones of their own.

The Egg and I (early soap on ABC)

Juvenile Jury (very early television show for kids)

Sesame Street -("Jenny Draws") first year of the show (1969-1970). jada sat on on the 'street' and drew pictures for the children (including the 'hidden' drawing which the children had to guess at and later was done by animation)

Secret Storm

The Doctors

As the World Turns

RADIO SHOWS include:

The Road Of Life

Second Mrs. Burton

U.S (played overseas - name eludes -) We had to dress up formally and sit in a circle on a stage in front of an audience when we performed these radio productions.

Radio Mystery Theatre (many of which are still out there running on the airwaves), produced by Himan Brown. Years before Himan hired me to record those shows (and unbeknowst to him), his son, Barry, and daughter-in-law, Judy, were good friends with my first husband and myself. Barry made a short movie starring my husband (who was an actor at that time). He also starred in a TV production of the Grass Harp by Truman Capote .

BOOKS AND PUBLICATIONS relating to acting career:

Many soap magazines: Soap Opera Digest, etc.

Various newspaper articles

Various editions of Who's Who (In America, In The World, etc)

Theatre World

TV Guide several times (including in the crossword puzzle)

A number of years in The Players Guide

Avedon: The Sixties, published by Random House and Kodak Professional

and at least two books on Soap Operas.


With the exception of a three month experiment, on jada's part, in Wynn Handman's acting class , she had no formal education for acting. She learned on the job.

Other links:

Sparks Blue Grassly (my son, who is also an actor)

Jeffrey Rowland (click here for his Broadway credits) (my brother, who was also an actor)

Jeffrey Rowland for his site and my sister-in-law Antoinette Janecki(who is also an artist)

Sesame Street and Wiki-Muppet and YouTube

Secret Storm

Theme of Secret Storm


Various Theatre World sites

Broadway World

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