UPDATE: This post has been changed since it was first published to include the day Mrs. Steinbrueck passed away. A link to Misha Berson’s obituary on the Seattle Times has been added at the end of this post. Minor editing changes have also been made.
A longtime Eastlake resident and well-known Seattle actress and theater director, Marjorie Nelson, 86, has died.
She passed away Friday at her home on Franklin Avenue E. after a brief illness, according to her family.
In a blog post, her daughters, Judith and Rachel, said:
Marjorie was an amazing, courageous, inspiring human being who brought her creativity and humanity to everything she did including her work in theater, the arts and activism.
Ms. Nelson, a Seattle native, was the widow of Victor Steinbrueck, a prominent Seattle architect credited with saving the Pike Place Market when it was threatened with demolition. Her step-son is former city councilor Peter Steinbrueck.
She was one of the founding company members at the Seattle Repertory Theatre in 1963. She acted in all kinds of theater, from Chekhov and Beckett to plays for children, and performed at many theaters around town. She was also active as a theater director.
Ms. Nelson also made several movies, including one of Sidney Poitier’s first, “The Slender Thread,” which was shot in Seattle in 1965, and she appeared in the TV series, “Twin Peaks.”
She received the Greg Falls Sustained Achievement Award from Theatre Puget Sound in 1998.
A neighbor, Jules James, wrote in an e-mail how the community had a street party in 1993 to celebrate the 100th birthday of her house on Franklin Ave. Her “Victorian lady” is one of the oldest homes in the city and a registered historic landmark.
James said Ms. Nelson was also active politically and was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid and was an early supporter of Pete Holmes in his campaign for city attorney.
“Her fundraisers for (her stepson) Peter’s city council races were legendary in bringing a cast of characters all together,” James said. “Her front yard was regularly planted with a yard sign for one campaign or another, usually the opponent of the sign in my yard.”
Ms. Nelson was also very active in the Eastlake community. She served on the Seward School Design Departure Task Force in 1996-97, James said. She was also a past vice president of the Eastlake Community Council and had been involved in other neighborhood activities, according to the ECC’s Web site.
She also was active as a steward of her late husband’s vision for the Pike Place Market and the park there that was named for him. In 2008, she talked to the Seattle P-I about her concerns about plans to modify Victor Steinbrueck Park. The P-I talked with her as she walked through the park:
The widow of Victor Steinbrueck is strolling through the park on the north edge of Pike Place Market that bears his name, talking about his vision and the significance of the grassy hills, meandering walkways and wooden benches.
Suddenly she stops to stare at a vendor selling buttered corn on the cob from a booth that looks like it belongs at a carnival. An actress and activist accustomed to speaking her mind, Steinbrueck asks the vendor who gave him permission to set up there. He tells her it was the parks department. She shakes her head.
“It looks messy. It doesn’t fit in the park. You can’t just crap it up,” she says.
Ms. Nelson is survived by her daughters, Rachel and Judith, and her husband’s four children from a previous marriage. Details on plans for a Life Celebration planned for the end of March will be posted at MarjorieNelsonactor.blogspot.com.
Please feel free to post remembrances of Marjorie Nelson or condolences for her family in the comments on this post. I’d welcome a photo or additional details about her remarkable life. Please e-mail me at curtmilton (at) comcast.net.
RELATED STORY: Misha Berson’s obituary of Marjorie Nelson is available online at the Seattle Times. The Times story has details of Nelson’s early career, including her marriage to actor Howard da Silva and their blacklisting during the Communist witch hunts of the 1950s. Thanks to the Seattle Times for use of the photo.