In a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, actress Kathryn Rossetter accused her Death of a Salesman costar Dustin Hoffman of sexual misconduct when the play ran on Broadway in 1983 and on the set of the 1985 TV movie.
According to Rossetter, their professional relationship started off well when Hoffman reacted emphatically to her audition and lobbied for her to get the part of Willy Loman’s mistress despite the director thinking she wasn’t old enough for the role. As Rossetter was a struggling actress with “little-to-no real experience” at the time, Hoffman helping her get her first major break made him a “hero” to her. That glowing first impression changed once she started working with him. Rossetter alleged that Hoffman often touched her inappropriately while they were offstage awaiting cues.
One night in Chicago, I felt his hand up under my slip on the inside of my thighs. I was completely surprised and tried to bat him away while watching the stage for my cues. After the show he was busy with the producer and director so I had no access to him to address it. It then happened almost every show. Six to eight shows a week. I couldn’t speak to him in the moment because I was on a live mic. He kept it up and got more and more aggressive. One night he actually started to stick his fingers inside me. Night after night I went home and cried. I withdrew and got depressed and did not have any good interpersonal relationships with the cast. How could the same man who fought to get me the job, who complimented my work, who essentially launched my career, who gave me the benefit of his wisdom as an actor, how could he also be this sexual power abuser? Was I doing something? Was it my fault?
In addition to the on set groping, Rossetter said that at the afterparties, Hoffman would put his arm around her during photo ops and quickly grope her breast right before the picture was taken. One time, the camera actually caught his hand on her breast.
“There I am — big smile and my arm moving toward his with the intention to push it away,” Rossetter wrote. “But caught as it is, it seems I’m complicit with the gesture. I was not. Not ever.”
Another disturbing accusation concerns Hoffman allegedly lifting up her slip, which she wore onstage without a bra as part of her costume, over her head for the crew’s amusement.
“Dustin had spread the word to the crew to come backstage at that time for a surprise,” she wrote. “What a jokester. Mr. Fun. It was sickening.”
Hoffman’s reps declined to comment when THR reached out but his lawyer did put the THR in touch with other people who worked on the production with Rossetter and Hoffman.
Those people include Hoffman’s brother-in-law Lee Gottsegen, actresses Anne McIntosh, Debra Mooney and Linda Hogan, actors Michael Quinlan and Andrew Bloch, and production stage manager Tom Kelly. “It just doesn’t ring true,” says Kelly. “Given my position, it’s insulting to say this kind of activity would go on to the extent of sexual violation.”
Rossetter came forward just days after Hoffman got into a heated argument with John Oliver at a 20th anniversary screening of Wag the Dog regarding the public apology Hoffman made after then 17-year-old Death of a Salesman intern Anna Graham Winter accused him of groping her and playwright Wendy Riss Gatsiounis accused him of sexually harassing her during a meeting in 1991.