Elizabeth Josephine "Jo" Sullivan Loesser is an American soprano and the widow of composer Frank Loesser. Her daughter, Emily Loesser, is also a singer-actress.
Born in Mounds, Illinois, Jo Sullivan played Polly Peachum in Marc Blitzstein's legendary English-language adaptation of The Threepenny Opera by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht off-Broadway in 1954. On Broadway, she starred in her future husband's masterpiece The Most Happy Fella (1956) as "Rosabella", alongside Robert Weede and Susan Johnson, which earned her a 1957 Tony Award nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
She married Loesser on April 29, 1959; they had two children, Hannah (1962–2007) and Emily (born 1965). On May 1, 2010, in an interview with Scott Simon on NPR Weekend Saturday, Jo Sullivan Loesser stated that her actual marriage date was April 29, 1959. She also appeared as herself in an "original special" on Broadway, called Let's Make An Opera (1950), which boasted music by Benjamin Britten, a libretto by Eric Crozier, musical direction by Norman Del Mar, and was directed by Marc Blitzstein.
In the summer of 1951 she played Dorothy Gale in The Municipal Opera Association of St. Louis production of The Wizard of Oz, opposite Margaret Hamilton, who reprised her film role of the Wicked Witch of the West. In 1992, Jo Loesser's daughter, Emily, played the same role at The Municipal Opera Association of St. Louis, the first time in Muny history a role has been played by both mother and daughter. Sullivan later reprised her role in the 1953 production at the Kansas City Starlight Theatre.
She has also appeared on numerous recordings, such as Loesser by Loesser (alongside her daughter, Emily) as well as several albums for Ben Bagley's celebrated "Revisited" series on Painted Smiles Records (most notably Kurt Weill Revisited, Leonard Bernstein Revisited, and Frank Loesser Revisited.)
Since her husband's death in 1969, she has managed the Frank Loesser estate, which has included guiding production of all of his musicals, including Guys and Dolls, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying and The Most Happy Fella.
Famous quotes containing the words sullivan and/or loesser:
“The fact is popular art dates. It grows quaint. How many people feel strongly about Gilbert and Sullivan today compared to those who felt strongly in 1890?”
—Stephen Sondheim (b. 1930)
“The guys only doing it for some doll.”
—Frank Loesser (19101969)