DELMAR– When Eva Marie Saint starred with Paul Newman in a “Producers’ Showcase” episode of the famous Thornton Wilder play “Our Town,” it was Delmar that came fondly back into her mind.
She mentioned this detail in a 2006 interview with CBS producer John Yacobian. He spoke with her as part of an application to nominate her as one of Bethlehem Central High School’s notable alumni.
The conversation was filled with memories of her childhood. From the girl who acted out movie scenes in her mirror to one of the most famous actresses of all time, the beloved and Oscar-winning performer always speaks about her hometown with heartfelt appreciation and love.
Eva Marie Saint, who was born in New Jersey but raised in New York, continues to forge an incredible legacy in the local community. When she lived in Delmar, she resided in the heart of the area. Saint reminisced on her childhood homes in a 2018 Wall Street Journal article titled Eva Marie Saint Before Marlon Brando and ‘Waterfront’.
In the article, she vividly described her strong connection to the outdoors. She found as much joy in pretending to be Tarzan on the backyard rope swing as she did in finding solitude in the woods.
In a 2023 conversation with Yacobian, she reflected on how her adventures in the woods and visits to the Normans Kill Creek filled hours of her days and allowed her to be alone with her thoughts. Whether she was listening to the birds or watching the fish in the creek, her memories paint a glowing picture of a childhood spent appreciating nature.
“The seasons had a way of telling time,” she said. She reminisced on learning to play the ukulele in a school summer program, admiring the fall foliage in the autumn, and ice skating in the winter.
A favorite pastime was when her parents would pack picnic lunches to take to Thacher Park. Playing baseball with her father and sister sparked a “lifelong” passion for the sport. When she had to throw out the first pitch at a Los Angeles Dodgers game, she said that she thought back to her days at the park.
A drug store at the Four Corners was a popular place for high school students to socialize outside of school. Saint remembers the seats lining the counter where she would sit and enjoy sundaes.
Residents in the community are eager to share their memories of Eva Marie Saint, especially from her school days. “The classes of 1941 and 1942 were particularly close,” said local resident Sandy Paige Sorrell. “I attribute it to the war.”
Sandy Paige Sorell’s mother, aunt, and father were classmates with Saint in 1942. Sandy Paige Sorell has made significant contributions to the town with pictures and information, including a photograph of what she believes is her mother at school with Saint.
Saint was once sent a school yearbook, and she expressed her appreciation for having an extra one. Karen Beck, president of the Bethlehem Historical Association, praised Saint’s gracious responses to class reunion invitations.
Eva Marie Saint is instantly recognizable in her yearbook photos with her warm smile and halo of curls. Her nickname in the book is listed as Bubbles. The 1942 yearbook reveals a young woman who was deeply involved in clubs, learning, and school projects. Cheerleading, color guard, orchestra, basketball, and student council were among her many interests.
“She was very active in clubs and activities and was voted the girl with the most ‘charm’ in her senior year,” said JoEllen Gardner, who is the public information specialist for the Bethlehem Central School District.
Saint revealed that she still knows the BCHS cheer by heart. Her first television appearance was as a cheerleader in a Keds commercial, where she used the BCHS cheer.
Saint said that she had a “wonderful time” at school and that her teachers were “incredible.” It was “a privilege to be in such a district,” Saint continued. “The teachers were very wonderful at Bethlehem.”
Saint added that she was “never bored” at BCHS because there were so many arts and sports opportunities. “I couldn’t have had a more productive experience,” she said, adding that it prepared her for academic success later in life.
Saint’s mother was an excellent seamstress who made everything Saint and her sister Adelaide wore. Her mother made all the dresses for the school dances that Saint attended. In a 2014 interview for Turner Classic Movies, Saint remarked how she and Adelaide were “the best-dressed girls in high school.”
During their 2006 conversation, Saint told Yacobian stories about some of her favorite teachers and classmates. One of those memories was how some of her former classmates would come backstage after her theater performances to see her, and it brought Saint great joy to see them.
One locally archived newspaper clipping highlighted Saint’s award-winning theater work in the Broadway play, “A Trip to Bountiful.” The article added that Saint “is the leading lady in the forthcoming movie picture “Waterfront,” starring along Marlon Brando.”
On March 12th, the Academy Awards celebrated their 95th anniversary. Eva Marie Saint remains one of the few to ever win an Oscar for their first role in a major motion picture, winning Best Supporting Actress for 1954’s classic film “On the Waterfront.”
Saint shines as a moral compass in a turbulent world of injustice as a star in “On the Waterfront.” Her Oscar-winning performance is just one of many roles in her career that highlight her exemplary skills as an actress. Her portrayal of lost love is at the heart of her 1957 film co-starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift, “Raintree County.”
In 1959, “North by Northwest” was released and nominated for three Oscars. Cary Grant plays a classic Hitchcockian man-on-the-run, while Saint is Eve Kendall, a complex secret agent. Saint masterfully plays a woman who must walk a fine line between Grant, James Mason’s artful villainy, and her troubled past.
As “North by Northwest” approaches its 65th anniversary, it is another testament to her celebrated career. Her prolific work has earned her several theatrical awards, as well as an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress for “People Like Us” and four other Emmy nominations.
Her many film, theater, and television credits include roles in the films “Exodus,” “A Hatful of Rain,” “That Certain Feeling,” “36 Hours,” “Grand Prix,” “Superman Returns,” “Taxi!!,” and “A Winter’s Tale.”
Her television work has spanned a wide range of roles, from portraying Cybill Shepherd’s mother Virginia Hayes in the series “Moonlighting” to appearing in hit shows like “How the West Was Won,” “The Love Boat,” and “Frasier.”
Saint has actively been involved in charity work with the Epilepsy Foundation and the Los Angeles-based Wonder of Reading program. She also established with her husband, director Jeffrey Hayden, the Saint-Hayden Humanitas Award.
Saint has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to honor her achievements in film and television. In recognition of her many outstanding achievements, she was locally inducted as a notable alumni of BCHS.
Saint remarked that she still thinks about those days of her childhood. She compared the community to a “big family” and credits her time in Delmar with helping her become a well-rounded person.
Warmly, Saint recalled growing up with a loving family and good friends. She described her childhood in the close-knit community of Delmar as ‘wonderful years’ in her life.