Camille D'Ambrose

The incredibly luminous actress Camille D’Ambrose passed away due to cancer on Sunday, and I am still in shock.

Camille was one of the first professional actors I worked with, starting back in 1985 at the Cricket Theatre. I have vivid memories of hanging out in the dressing room with Camille and Shirley, as they laughed about convincing the production manager, Brian, to provide a bottle of champagne every Sunday night as part of their contract. I remember her calmly passing a flaming trash can offstage for me to extinguish, and how she agreed to adopt the stage dog TC, who got bigger and bigger over the 8 weeks of the production (that puppy had the biggest paws I have ever seen, and grew into them!)

I probably wouldn’t be in theatre today of it wasn’t for Camille. She, along with a group of others — Allen Hamilton, Shirley Venard, Sally Wingert, Barbra Kingsley, Steven D’Ambrose — showed me it was possible to have a profession in the theater while also having a family and a life.

Every time I saw Camille, we could pick up exactly from those backstage moments, with the kind of easy, friendly grace that Camille was known for. She remembered every detail of my life, even if we hadn’t seen each other in quite some time. One winter day a few years ago we stood in lobby of the Jungle Theater during a break, looking at the big snowflakes falling onto Lyndale, and she asked me “Aren’t you happy that this is your life?”

My daughter’s middle name is Camille, and though it’s a family name on my husband’s side, I’ve always loved that it pays honor to this wonderful woman and to the theatre that she loved.

So Camille, here’s a glass of champagne to you, with love and gratefulness for all you’ve done to give me a life I am oh-so-happy with. I already miss you more than you could know.

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