Born in Baldwin, New York, in 1941, Susan Browning had a long career in musical theater and also appeared in film and television.
She debuted on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre in Anita Rowe Block’s 1963 comedy Love and Kisses, creating the role of Elizabeth Pringle, playing alongside Bert Convy and Larry Parks. In 1971, she earned a Tony® nomination for Best Actress in a Musical in Sondheim’s Company, in which she played the character of the “simple” flight attendant April; she can be heard in that role on the original Broadway cast recording. Company won several Tony Awards® – including those for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Lyrics – as well as several Drama Desk awards. Browning joined the company of Company once more for the 1993 reunion performance at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater. In March 1973 she participated in a special one-night-only benefit show at the Shubert Theatre entitled Sondheim: A Musical Tribute and can be heard on the recording made of the performance in selections from Company, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Saturday Night.
Also in 1973 she played Wednesday November in the short-lived musical Shelter, with music by Nancy Ford and words by Gretchen Cryer. Performing alongside Joel Grey, she played the role of Agnes Sorel in Goodtime Charley, a musical set in fifteenth-century France, with a book by Sidney Michaels, music by Larry Grossman, and lyrics by Hal Hackady. Goodtime Charley earned several Tony® nominations in 1975, including Browning’s for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
In 1979, at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, she stepped in for Faye Medwick in Neil Simon’s comedy Chapter Two, which had won the 1978 Tony Award® for Best Play. Also at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, she played the Widow Douglas and Sally Phelps in the first Broadway production of Roger Miller’s Big River (1985) – a musical inspired by Huckleberry Finn – which won the Tony Award® for Best Musical that year.
Her numerous film credits include the critically acclaimed The World According to Garp (1982), after the novel by John Irving; The Money Pit (1986); Sister Act (1992) and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993); and Sabrina (1995). She also appeared in such television series as The Wild Wild West, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., The Quinns, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, First Ladies’ Diaries: Martha Washington, Felony Squad, and Law & Order, as well as on the daytime dramas One Life to Live and Love is a Many-Splendored Thing.
Browning died at age sixty-five in 2006.