The Trip to Bountiful- A History

Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful was conceived to be a stage play, but at the suggestion of Fred Coe, a television producer, Foote turned his idea into a TV script, produced on NBC in March 1953, starring Lillian Gish. Reworked into a full-length play, it was tested at Westport Country Playhouse and on the road before the Broadway opening on November 3, 1953. Vincent J. Donehue was the director of the television version; summer theatre versions, including Westport Country Playhouse’s production; Broadway production; and subsequent U.S. tour.

Westport Country Playhouse’s 1953 cast included Lillian Gish as Carrie Watts, Eva Marie Saint as Thelma, John Beal as Ludie Watts, Jo Van Fleet as Jessie Mae Watts, Frank Overton as Sheriff, and Jean Stapleton as Mrs. Menefee.  Also, Will Hare, John C. Becher, Wyrley Birch, Neil Laurence, Sarah Cahill, Patricia McDonald, Jacques Andre, Sheldon Wile, Robert Wunsch, and Nick Zanides.

On Broadway, Jo Van Fleet won a 1954 Tony Award as Best Featured Actress in a Play for the role of Jessie Mae Watts, and Eva Marie Saint won Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World awards for the role of Thelma.

The Broadway production was produced by New York’s Theatre Guild, which began producing plays in 1919. Lawrence Langner was one of the founders of the Theatre Guild. In 1931, Langner also founded Westport Country Playhouse, along with his wife Armina Marshall Langner.

The Trip to Bountiful - the television production (1953)


The Trip to Bountiful - Westport Country Playhouse (1953)


The Trip to Bountiful - Broadway (1953)

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