Tuesday, May 21, 2013
By Gillian Graham email@example.com
OGUNQUIT — Actress Sally Struthers, a frequent performer at the Ogunquit Playhouse, was arrested in Ogunquit this week on a drunken-driving charge, which she denies.
Ogunquit Police Department photo of Sally Struthers.
Struthers, 65, was taken into custody after a traffic stop on Route 1 about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday and charged with operating under the influence, said police Sgt. Matt Buttrick.
Struthers, best known for her role in the TV sitcom "All in the Family" in the 1970s, is now starring in Dolly Parton's "9 to 5: The Musical" at the Ogunquit Playhouse.
She performed in two shows Thursday and has not missed a performance during the musical's run, said Cheryl Farley, the theater's director of marketing.
Farley said the Ogunquit Playhouse staff does not comment on the personal lives of performers, adding only that Struthers is "terrific" on stage.
Struthers' car was stopped early Wednesday near the center of Ogunquit, but Buttrick did not say why. He would not say whether she was given a field sobriety test, saying only that those tests are typically given at the scene in such situations.
After her arrest, Struthers was cooperative and was released after posting $165 bail at the police station, Buttrick said. She is scheduled to appear in York District Court on Dec. 13.
She has no criminal history in Maine, according to records maintained by the Maine State Bureau of Identification.
A first-time offender convicted of drunken driving faces a 90-day license suspension and a $400 fine, but no jail time.
Struthers and her Los Angeles-based publicist, Pam Sharp, denied in a statement issued Thursday that Struthers was driving while intoxicated.
"Sally is working and she is fine and she loves the Ogunquit Playhouse and her yearly time in Ogunquit," Sharp said.
Struthers has performed at the Ogunquit Playhouse since 2002, including roles in "The Full Monty," "Hello Dolly" and "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."
"Sally considers Oqunquit to be her second home ... she loves being here," Bradford Kenney, the Playhouse's executive artistic director, told the Portland Press Herald in 2007.
Struthers has appeared in two shows in Ogunquit this season. Her run as Roz Keith in "9 to 5" is scheduled to end Saturday.
On Thursday, Struthers did not speak to the media after her performance in the show's matinee and could not be seen leaving the playhouse.
People in Ogunquit who know Struthers or have seen her perform describe her as down-to-earth, talented and entertaining.
Brian Munger, head of maintenance at the playhouse, said Struthers is popular with people at the theater and around town.
"She's an absolutely wonderful person. The town loves her, the audience adores her," he said while directing traffic outside the theater. "I hold her in the highest regard."
After Thursday's matinee, several people who saw the show said they had not heard of Struthers' arrest but enjoyed her performance.
"She's very talented," said Alice Gaudette of Wells, who has seen Struthers perform many times over the past 10 years. "(The arrest) doesn't change my opinion. I feel sorry for her, if anything."
Alan and Susan Fletcher of Vermont were surprised to hear of the charge against Struthers. They said they sat at the table next to hers while having lunch in Ogunquit on Thursday.
Struthers appeared to be in good spirits as she talked with a friend about her charity work, Susan Fletcher said. "It reminded you what she was really like."
For years, Struthers was the spokeswoman for the Christian Children's Fund on TV, appealing for donations to end starvation in underdeveloped countries.
Struthers is divorced and has one daughter, according to an online biography posted by the Internet Movie Data Base.
Steve Feeney, a theater reviewer for the Press Herald, praised Struthers' performance earlier this summer, writing that "she has a lot of fun with the part and is often hilarious."
In a 2007 interview with the Press Herald, Struthers said that in a perfect world she would buy a house in Maine and split her time between here and her home in California.
"People think I have all these residual checks from 'All in the Family,' but it's not true," she said. "I have to work for a living."
Staff Writer Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at: