BGSU honors Hollywood star, alumna Eva Marie Saint

BOWLING GREEN — Eva Marie Saint, the girl from Delta Gamma sorority turned Hollywood royalty, wowed an attentive crowd Saturday night in her namesake theater on the campus of Bowling Green State University.

The BGSU alumna engaged in wide-ranging reminiscences for more than 30 minutes during BRAVO! BGSU, an annual talent showcase for the university’s performing and visual artists that raises money for its arts scholarships.

VIDEO: Eva Marie Saint

Miss Saint, 93, who received a best supporting actress Academy Award for the 1954 film, On The Waterfront, spoke of her journey to BGSU and of joining the sorority to make friends. Noticing a sorority sister in the front row, Martha Forrest, of Tiffin, Miss Saint said to the audience of more than 100, “She’s my best friend from Bowling Green. Both Delta Gamma. All our other friends are gone.”


Award-winning actress Eva Marie Saint, 93, speaks at the Bravo! BGSU event in Bowling Green on Saturday.


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And then to Mrs. Forrest, “Just you and me, kid.”

Miss Saint continued: “Where was I? I was on the bus. Crying. Take two.”

She grew up in Albany, N.Y., and her family spent weekends in the Adirondacks, so she shed tears at the flat landscape she saw on the bus ride from the Toledo train station to BGSU.

She added, “I felt comfortable from the first time I was here.”

Miss Saint was a guest of the event in the Wolfe Center for the Performing Arts as the second recipient of the BGSU Lifetime Achievement Award. The premiere recipients in 2016 were Robert and Ellen Thompson, who are university benefactors. The couple met at the university, and the student union is named for them.

Miss Saint has returned to campus every few years since her 1946 graduation. She was named a distinguished alumna in 1980 and received an honorary doctorate of performing arts in 1982.

Seated alongside Miss Saint in the Eva Marie Saint Theater and guiding the conversation was Lesa Lockford, chairman of the BGSU department of theater and film.


Academy Award-winning actress Eva Marie Saint, 93, who is known for starring in Elia Kazan’s “On the Waterfront” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest,” speaks during the Bravo! BGSU event at Bowling Green State University.

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Miss Saint came to BGSU with plans to be a teacher, as her mother was, but was encouraged to take a part in a play on campus by Elden T. Smith, who then led the theater program. Another play followed, and then at Mr. Smith’s urging, she took a role in the Shakespeare play, As You Like It.

“I felt at ease on the stage,” Miss Saint said. “I couldn’t wait to do that part, Rosalind, every night.”

She changed her major, with her parents’ blessings and support, and with Mr. Smith’s further urging, moved to New York to be a professional actor.

She spoke of the hazards of live television dramas in the early days of the medium — fellow actors who forgot lines, wardrobe malfunctions. After that, “I don’t get upset about anything. It taught you so much.”

In a 2001 return visit to BGSU, she and her late husband, Jeffrey Hayden, appeared in the two-hander Love Letters in the Eva Marie Saint Theater, then in University Hall, and the couple also graced a 25th-anniversary screening in the Gish Film Theater of the television production, The Trip To Bountiful, which starred Miss Saint and Lillian Gish.

Miss Saint’s Oscar-winning role was opposite Marlon Brando. She also starred with Cary Grant in the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock film, North By Northwest. She has appeared in the films Raintree County, Exodus, and Nothing In Common and, in the 21st century, the films Because of Winn-Dixie, Superman Returns, and Winter’s Tale.

She told the audience of a difference between Elia Kazan, who directed On the Waterfront, and Alfred Hitchcock, who directed North By Northwest. Mr. Kazan was ever the teacher, even with his cast members. With Mr. Hitchcock, “You had an idea of the character just by what he wanted you to wear.”

Contact Mark Zaborney at or 419-724-6182.

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