Grayson Hall
Primary Series Role: Dr Julia Hoffman 1967-1971
 

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Other Characters: Countess Natalie DuPres 1795, Magda Rakosi 1897, Julia Hoffman 1970 Parallel Time, Julia Collins 1841 Parallel Time (pictured), Dr. Julia Hoffman House of Dark Shadows, Carlotta Drake Night of Dark Shadows

Inquisitive and intelligent, Dr. Julia Hoffman's demure and distant visage masks a woman of loyalty and passion. Driven by an insatiable desire for discovery, and a covert love for Barnabas Collins, she remains a loyal confidante. Faced with a choice between loyalty to her profession or Barnabas, she frequently forced to pledge allegiance to her friend, with sometimes-fatal consequences for those around her. Not beyond manipulation to achieve her ends, Julia's is a complex character truly understood by few around her, including Barnabas.

Grayson Hall was born Shirley Grossman on 18 September 1923, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was interested in acting from an early age. When, at the age of 11, her declaration that "I want to be on the stage" was met with polite laughter, she demanded silence with a deafening scream. Even at an early age, the distinctive, strong character so many remember her for was plainly evident.

Graduating from the Simon Gratz High School, she appeared in plays at the local Templeton University, before formally becoming a student of Cornell University, where she majored in drama. She elected not to complete her study at Cornell, instead moving to New York, where she began acting in regional theatre and television under the name Shirley Grayson. In 1951, when appearing at Yale University in Our Betters, she met her future husband Sam Hall. The couple married in 1953, whereupon she adopted Grayson Hall as her professional name.

Grayson succeeded in carving out a minor niche for herself as an avant-garde film actress, receiving an Oscar nomination for her 1964 role as Judith Fellowes in John Huston's Night of the Iguana. Her other film credits included Run Across the River (1961—credited as Shirley Grayson), That Darn Cat (1965), Qui êtes-vous, Polly Magoo? (1966) and The End of the Road (1968). By the time she joined the Dark Shadows cast in 1967, she was already a seasoned television actress, having appeared in Lights Out! Curtain Call, Studio One Lucky Strike, Star Tonight, The Man from UNCLE, The Girl From UNCLE and Back to Back.

For Night of Dark Shadows, Grayson and Sam took part in an extensive promotional tour, where she frequently appeared in costume and make-up as Carlotta Drake, thespian excesses humorously intact. Following the cancellation of Dark Shadows, Grayson enjoyed a more sedate career, performing in commercials, film and theatre. She was keenly interested in interior design, and her homes were filled with unusual décor and furnishings—"Auntie Mame meets Charles Addams" was Alexandra Moltke's wry assessment. Grayson's country home Wildercliff was even featured in Architectural Digest.

Her credits during this time included roles in Gargoyles (1972), a stint on All My Children in 1973, The Two Deaths of Sean Doolittle (1974) and The Great Ice Rip-Off (1974). Her theatre work at this time included roles in The Sea, What Every Woman Knows, The Leaf People, Rib Cage (with David Selby) The Suicide and Happy End.

Despite adamantly claiming that she would never work with husband Sam again, Grayson apparently had a change of heart and joined the cast of One Life to Live in 1982 in the role of Euphemia Ralston. At the time, Sam Hall was the show's head writer.

In 1985, Grayson essayed her final role in a production of Jean Giraudoux's Madwoman of Chaillot at the Theatre at St. Peter's Church, but was forced to withdraw after a short time due to illness, when it was discovered that she was dying of lung cancer. Grayson passed away on 7 August 1985 in New York.

In 2006, R.J. Jamison documented Grayson's life extensively in Grayson Hall: A Hard Act to Follow, a full-length biography.

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