Sam and Grayson Hall, a much-honored television headwriter and an Academy Award-nominated actress, arrived in New York in the ‘50s, each with a burning desire to reinvent themselves. Sam soon found success writing live television (one of his early outings starred the young James Dean, whom he described “talented but difficult”). Grayson received an Academy Award best supporting actress nod for her work opposite Richard Burton and Ava Gardner in John Huston’s 1964 Night of the Iguana. Then came the original daytime soap Dark Shadows— Sam wrote it; Grayson played Dr. Julia Hoffman, forever trying to cure and protect the vampire Barnabas. After that, Sam became headwriter of One Life to Live for many years, and eventually turned his talents to several other soaps, among them General Hospital and Santa Barbara. Grayson continued to work in television and movies, and repeatedly starred on Broadway.
The proof of their eventual success, and the ultimate fruit of their reinvention, was their 1978 purchase of Wildercliff, a Livingston estate on the Hudson. They filled the large house with antiques selected both personally and with the aid of noted decorators such as Harrison Cultra and Jeffrey Bilhuber. Photographed for Architectural Digest in 1980, the house became a salon for some of the area’s leading literary and theatrical figures—Elaine Stritch and Dominick Dunne, amidst a plethora of others— and the site of several decades of well-remembered parties and charitable events.
Grayson died in 1985; Sam never remarried, and passed away in 2014.
— Written by Matthew Hall (son of Sam and Grayson Hall)
We are pleased to be offering property from the Estate of Sam and Grayson Hall, Wildercliff, Rhinebeck, New York, Writer and Lead Actress of ‘Dark Shadows’ in our June 26-27th Fine Sale, including a Continental Mahogany and Brass Inlaid Settee, an Empire Mahogany and Ormolu-Mounted Secretaire Cabinet, and assorted Majolica. View the collection in the catalogue >
- Wimped Out?, The Blue Remembered Hills, featuring Wildercliff in The Architectural Digest
- Grayson Hall: A Hard Act to Follow, by R. J. Jamison, 2006
- Wildercliff, by Matt Hall, Nantucket ’73