“When Miss Carroll entered for the first time,” Frank Rich wrote in The Times, “an anxious silence fell over the audience at the Shakespeare Theater in Folger here, as hundreds of eyes searched for traces of her. the woman they saw. in a thousand television replays. What they found instead was a Falstaff, who may have stepped out of a solemnly painted portrait: an old, bald knight with scattered buns and gray beard, a giant belly , rosy cheeks and crossed eyes peering out through the mist. The sight is so eerie that you have to cling to your seat. “
“It was realized,” Mr. Rich continued, “that it was a Shakespeare character, not a camp parody, being served.”
Patricia Ann Carroll was born on May 5, 1927 in Shreveport, La., and raised in Los Angeles. Her father, Maurice, works for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Electricity; Her mother, Kathryn (Meagher) Carroll, works in real estate and office management.
Ms. Carroll attended Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles on an English scholarship but left before graduating. “I realized that what I was learning wasn’t going to progress to what I wanted to do,” she said in 2011. “I always thought that experience was the best preparation.”
In 1947, Mrs. Carroll left Los Angeles for Plymouth, Mass., where she worked at the Priscilla Beach Theater and she spoke, ate, drank, and breathed at the theater. She made her professional stage debut there that year in “A Goose for the Gander,” starring Gloria Swanson. Soon after, she went to New York, where, among other odd jobs, she polished shoes.