Ode to my friend Gwyn Gilliss, Actress, Writer, Marketing Consultant, South Bay Resident and so much more
Very sad to share my friend and colleague, Gwyn Gillis, passed away this January 2022. Her family has given me permission to share her obituary with you all here because many of you may recognize and remember her fondly too. I did not write this, merely sharing because she was such a cool lady I want her life remembered.
Gwyn Gilliss, 74, passed away suddenly at her home in Redondo Beach California on January 12, 2022. A well-known actress and career mentor, she was president of Gwyn Gilliss Communications. Born in Warren, Ohio to Hiram and Louise Gilliss, Gwyn began her acting and modeling career while a student at Shaker Heights High School. She studied theater and acting at Syracuse University and Carnegie Mellon University, moving to New York City in 1970 to pursue her professional career.
Working and living in New York City for forty years, Gwyn called herself “The Gypsy of Soap Operas”. She appeared for three years as Ann Tyler Martin on All My Children and in contract roles on many other daytime shows, including Betty DeSalvo on One Life to Live, Sandra Davis on As The World Turns, Elizabeth Maxwell on Ryan’s Hope, Blair Van Houten /Molly Randall on Guiding Light and Louise Chapin on Another World. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for best daytime TV actress. In 1993 she authored the bestseller trade book, “The ABC’s of Soaps, All You Need to Know for a Career in Daytime TV”, which is still being used as a resource in university theater classes.
As well as appearing on daytime television, Gwyn appeared on prime time TV shows, including the Lucy Arnez Show and Women of Valor, which received an Emmy award. As a corporate spokeswoman, she appeared in hundreds of network commercials and voice overs, including ones for CitiBank, Mercedes, L’Oreal, Tide, Chanel, and British Airways.
Touring in classical repertory theater across the United States, Gwyn played roles from Shakespeare, Moliere and Tennessee Williams to Noel Coward and Arthur Miller. She enjoyed the camaraderie among the touring cast members and liked discovering the best restaurants in many large and small cities. She appeared in off and on Broadway productions including “The Man Who Came to Dinner” with Tammy Grimes and in Joshua Logan’s last play “Trick” with Ian Robertson.
A person of many interests, Gwyn studied economics at Yale University, and attended a graduate level political science program at Oxford University. She was a guest lecturer in the Master of Fine Arts Departments at Yale University, UC Irvine and USC. As a scriptwriter and producer, Gwyn founded Light Street Films, producing the comedy pilot Bloggers. Her scripts and pilots won her official selections at the Mediterranean Film Festival in Cannes in 2019, the Beverly Hills Film Festival in 2018 and the Hanhai Film Studio Competition in 2016. She was one of 50 writers in the USA selected for the Fast Track Fellowship XII in 2020. Her current projects included Haupt Air, Heavenly Heist, Enraptured (recently optioned for Australian TV) and Moose Calls. She was an active member of the Roadmap Writing group.
In 2000 Gwyn developed an international marketing and career mentoring business, Gwyn Gilliss Communications, sharing her knowledge of winning strategies and audition techniques with clients worldwide. Through her seminars, workshops, weekly group and individual meetings, she inspired, coached and educated aspiring actors. At her semi-annual and annual Marathon events, she introduced her students to agents, producers, casting directors and managers. Each year, Gwyn was the featured speaker at the Actor’s International Summit in London, England.
Her clients were located all over the world and met with Gwyn by Zoom and personal contact. The many successes of her clients were a reflection of the interest and caring she gave to all of them.
An active member of SAG and AFTRA, Gwyn loved to golf, to ride her bike on the beach and to travel. As part of a New York City Japanese singing group, she traveled to Japan and immersed herself in the culture. Curious about spirituality, she went to India to study with a guru and visit temples. She rode the Orient Express to Vienna and went on a photo shoot safari to Kenya. Last fall, she bought cowboy boots, took line dancing lessons and was planning to stay on a western working ranch in the summer of 2022.
Gwyn was preceded in death by her parents and her brother Douglas and her sister Sandra Davis, nephew Mark Gould and her former husbands Barry Coronet and Victor Watson. Her survivors include her brother David (sister-in-law, RuthAnn) of Winona, Ohio and nephew Brian Gould and niece Dr. Laurie Belknap and their families. Gwyn’s remains will be buried later in the family burial plot in Gustavus Cemetery, Gustavus, Ohio.