Broadway Star Gwen Verdon left an indelible mark on the theater, with her wavy red hair and vulnerable but strong voice that made her performances so memorable in musical comedies like Sweet Charity, Damn Yankees and more. But while the theatrical icon celebrated great professional success and endured great personal strife in her high-profile, tumultuous marriage to legendary choreographer Bob Fosse, it was summertime in the Hamptons that brought her a sense of solace and peace in an otherwise busy life.
“I can walk around without any makeup and it’s accepted,” Verdon told The New York Times in 1973 during an interview about her Hamptons life. “In the city, if it went without makeup people wouldn’t like it. They would say I had gone to pot. They expect instant glamour all the time.”
Verdon, of course, led a life that was anything but quiet outside the Hamptons. One of the great theater actresses of all time, Verdon was a four-time Tony winner, most memorably for her influential turn as Lola in Damn Yankees. While her marriage to Fosse was marred by his many infidelities, the two were incredibly compatible creative collaborators, and she often served as not only a dancer for his projects but as an assistant choreographer and dance coach.
The relationship between Verdon and Fosse was dramatized in the critically acclaimed, eight-part limited series Fosse/Verdon on FX in 2019. Williams played Verdon to Sam Rockwell’s Fosse, and the series won Williams an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series. Verdon and Fosse’s daughter, Nicole, a lifelong Hamptonite, was a producer for the show.
Today, Verdon’s final Hamptons home in Quogue — she also lived in East Hampton — is on the market for the first time ever. Asking $8.95 million, 84 Dune Road has a compelling history of its own, including a stint as a United States Life-Saving Station until the United States Life-Saving Service merged with the Revenue Cutter Service and formed the United States Coast Guard in 1915.
Yes–before Verdon made the beachside spot her lovely summer home, the house was the site of some daring rescues, including the infamous wreck of the AUGUSTUS HUNT coal schooner on January 23 1904, in which eight people lost their lives. During the tragic incident, two Quogue Station Surfmen risked their lives and managed to save two of the AUGUSTUS HUNT’s crew. The surfmen, Frank D. Warner and William F. Halsey, were awarded Gold Life Saving Medals for their work. Halsey later became the Keeper of the station, until it was eventually decommissioned and moved to its current location. The house still has the original U.S. Life Saving Station sign, a boat room, original flooring and various memorabilia from its Life Saving Station days.
“The house has so much that’s special,” says listing agent Enzo Morabito of Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “It was owned by a legend, and it’s a really great, livable house. I love how the modern updates still manage to pay homage to all that history.”
It’s not hard to imagine Verdon gracefully sashaying through the house–a house that once served as a rescue station for imperiled seafarers–perhaps recalling the exact steps of Sweet Charity or Damn Yankees from years earlier. What was a place of strife and danger, now a place of happiness and solitude for a woman who, after a life in bright lights, took a well-deserved break.