Zoe Caldwell

Zoe Caldwell
Born Ada Caldwell
(1933-09-14) 14 September 1933
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Residence Pound Ridge, New York, United States[1]
Occupation Actress
Years active 1960–present
Spouse(s) Robert Whitehead (m. 1968–2002)
Children 2

Zoe Caldwell, OBE (born Ada Caldwell; 14 September 1933, Melbourne) is an Australian actress. She is a four-time Tony Award winner, and is the voice of the Grand Councilwoman in the Lilo & Stitch franchise.

Early life

She was born Ada Caldwell in Melbourne, Victoria and raised in the suburb of Balwyn. Her father, Edgar, was a plumber.[2] Caldwell's mother often took some of the neighbourhood kids to the Elizabethan Theatre in Richmond where they could go backstage and watch rehearsals and performances.[3][4]


Caldwell began her career in Melbourne in the 1950s and early 1960s, performing with the newly formed Union Theatre Repertory Company (later the Melbourne Theatre Company).[5]

She emigrated to England upon being invited to join the RSC at a time when Charles Laughton was attempting Lear, and Vanessa Redgrave, Eileen Atkins, Albert Finney were among the other newcomers in the company. She played Bianca in the 1959 production of Othello, starring Paul Robeson. Later she played the indomitable Helena, opposite Dame Edith Evans in a production of All's Well That Ends Well. Her career later brought her to America, where she was one of the original company of actors under Guthrie's direction at the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. At the Guthrie, she played parts such as Ophelia in Hamlet and Natasha in Three Sisters.

A life member of the Actors Studio,[6] Caldwell has won four Tony Awards for her performances on Broadway in Tennessee Williams' Slapstick Tragedy, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Medea and Master Class. In the last she portrayed opera diva Maria Callas. In Stratford, Ontario she has worked often, including her role as Cleopatra in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra opposite Christopher Plummer's Mark Antony in 1967.

Other credits on Broadway include Arthur Miller's The Creation of the World and Other Business in which she played Eve, a one-woman play by William Luce based on the life of Lillian Hellman and a production of Macbeth with Christopher Plummer as Macbeth and Glenda Jackson as Lady Macbeth under Caldwell's direction. Caldwell directed, Off-Broadway, a two-woman play, created by Eileen Atkins, Vita and Virginia, based on the letters between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. Atkins played Virginia and Vanessa Redgrave played Vita. Caldwell directed the Broadway production of Othello in the late 1970s with James Earl Jones, Christopher Plummer, and Dianne Wiest. She helmed the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Connecticut for two limited-run seasons as its Artistic Director in the mid-1980s.

She has also appeared on film, most notably as an imperious dowager in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo. In 2002, she starred in the film Just a Kiss. She voiced the character of the Grand Councilwoman in Disney's Lilo & Stitch, and continued voicing the character in the franchise's later films and in Lilo & Stitch: The Series, as well as in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep.[7] She appeared in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in 2011.

Personal life

Caldwell graduated from the Methodist Ladies College and, much later, received an honorary degree from the University of Melbourne. She was married in 1968 to Canadian-born Broadway producer Robert Whitehead, a cousin of actor Hume Cronyn. They had two sons and were married until Whitehead's death in June 2002.[8]



Year Title Role Notes
1959 A Midsummer Night's Dream Fairy Television film
1961 Macbeth Lady Macbeth Television film
1964 Dear Liar Mrs. Patrick Campbell Television film
1968 The Secret of Michelangelo Narrator Television film
1983 Medea Medea Television film
1985 The Purple Rose of Cairo The Countess
1989 Lantern Hill Mrs. Kennedy Television film
2002 Lilo & Stitch Grand Councilwoman (voice)
2003 Stitch! The Movie Grand Councilwoman (voice) Direct-to-video
2004 Birth Mrs. Hill
2004 Stitch's Great Escape! Grand Councilwoman (voice) Short film
2006 Leroy & Stitch Grand Councilwoman (voice) Direct-to-video
2011 Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Oskar's Grandmother

Theatre Credits

Year Title Role Notes
2003 The Visit Claire Zachanassian Melbourne Theatre Company
2003 The Play What I Wrote Mystery Guest Star - replacement Lyceum Theater
1995-1997 Master Class Maria Callas John Golden Theater - Tony Award
1991 Park Your Car In Harvard Yard Director Music Box Theater
1988 Macbeth Director Mark Hellinger Theatre
1986 Lillian Lillian Ethel Barrymore Theater
1985 Medea Medea Cort Theater - Tony Award
1977 An Almost Perfect Person Director Belasco Theater
1974 Dance of Death Alice Vivian Beaumont Theater
1972 The Creation of the World and Other Business Eve Shubert Theater
1968 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Jean Brodie Helen Hayes Theater - Tony Award
1966 Slapstick Tragedy Polly Longacre Theater - Tony Award
1965 The Devils Sister Jean of the Angels - replacement Broadway Theatre


Year Title Role Notes
1960 BBC Sunday Night Play Ruth Honeywill Episode: "Twentieth Century Theatre: Justice"
1960 ITV Playhouse Louise Episode: "The Song of Louise in the Morning"
1960 Suspense Kathy Harrigton Episode: "Flight 404"
1960 Theatre 70 Episode: "The Neighbour"
1963 Festival Episode: "The Doctor's Dilemma"
1964 Playdate Streetwalker Episode: "A Night Out"
1971 Great Performances Sarah Benhardt Episode: "Sarah ... Sarah Benhardt"
1978 Play of the Month Mme. Arkadina Episode: "The Seagull"
1986 American Masters Carlotta Monterey O'Neill Episode: "Eugene O'Neill: A Glory of Ghosts"
1990 Road to Avonlea Old Lady Lloyd Episode: "Old Lady Lloyd"
2003 Lilo & Stitch: The Series Grand Councilwoman (voice) Episode: "Finder: Experiment #428"

Video Games

Year Title Role Notes
2002 Disney's Stitch: Experiment 626 Grand Councilwoman
2010 Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Grand Councilwoman



  1. "Happy Birthday To Pound Ridge's Zoe Caldwell". poundridge.dailyvoice.com. 30 September 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  2. Nightingale, Benedict. Her Infinite Variety, New York Times, 21 October 2001; accessed 27 May 2008.
  3. "Zoe Caldwell's honorary degree". University of Melbourne. Archived from the original on 30 August 2006. Retrieved 13 November 2006.
  4. "New York State Writers Institute on Caldwell". State University of New York. Archived from the original on 31 October 2006. Retrieved 13 November 2006.
  5. "Zoe Caldwell". AusStage.
  6. David Garfield (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of the Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of the Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 277. ISBN 0-02-542650-8.
  7. "Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep details". IMDb. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  8. Gussow, Mel. "Robert Whitehead, Who Brought Top Playwrights to Broadway, Dies at 86" The New York Times, 17 June 2002; accessed 27 January 2014.
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