Kathryn Rossetter (left) says Dustin Hoffman (right) groped her almost nightly during the 1984 run of Death of a Salesman. She also says she has proof – this photo of her squeezing her breast during a picture while they were acting together
- Katheryn Rossetter, 66, played Dustin Hoffman’s mistress in the 1984 Broadway revival of Death of a Salesman
- She says Hoffman groped her nightly between scenes, and squeezed her breast anytime they took pictures together
- The actress says she ‘tried everything to get him to stop’ but Hoffman never relented
- She is the third woman to come forward in recent days with sexual harassment claims against the film legend
- Actresses Meryl Streep and Katherine Ross have told similar stories about Hoffman in the past
- On Monday, comedian John Oliver confronted Hoffman about the allegations at a film screening
- Hoffman denied the claims in a heated exchange with Oliver A woman who acted in a Broadway play opposite Dustin Hoffman spoke out on Friday to say he groped her on stage nightly and refused to stop even when she tearfully pleaded with him to leave her alone.
Kathryn Rossetter played Hoffman’s mistress in the 1984 Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, and subsequent TV movie.
In addition to violating her on a daily basis, she says Hoffman also squeezed her breasts anytime they took pictures together.
The 66-year-old actress says being serially assaulted by her ‘hero’ was ‘horrific’ and ‘demoralizing’ -and something she still deals with today.
She is the third woman in the past month to come forward and accuse Hoffman, 80, of sexual harassment.
Rossetter (right, in a recent picture) is the third woman to come forward in the past month with such accusations against Hoffman (left)
Rossetter told her story in her own words in an essay for the Hollywood Reporter, published on Friday.
She says she first met Hoffman in 1983, during an audition to play his mistress in Death of a Salesman.
She recalls her audition for the role fondly, saying Hoffman immediately fell in love with her laugh and became her champion – even when the director thought she was too young and thin to play the role.
The day before her callbacks, she says he got his make-up artist to make her look older for the role. When they did another read-through the next day, she says he even got into an argument with the director in front of her, saying the role had to go to her. Hoffman won the argument.
But her happy memories of Hoffman ended soon after that.
As soon as they started rehearsals, Rossetter says Hoffman crossed a line and started sexually harassing her relentlessly.
She says the first time he got inappropriate was three days into rehearsals, when he asked her to stop by his hotel room after the two had lunch together.
‘When we stepped into the room, he jumped on the bed and said, “Give me a back rub.” He pulled off his shirt. I didn’t know what to do. I said we had to be back at rehearsal in 15 minutes. He said, “Just a quickie.” Rossetter says Hoffman would grope her back stage between scenes and wouldn’t heed her demands that he stop. The two are pictured above acting in the TV movie of Death of a Salesman
One night, Rossetter says between scenes Hoffman lifted her slip over her head in front of a group of male crew. She says the shock of what he had done caused her to miss her cue. Hoffman pictured as Willy Loman in 1985
‘I was a nervous wreck, but sat on the bed and gave a very lame rub. The maid walked in and I almost fainted. He laughed. As we prepared to leave, he looked at me and said, “Now we have our ‘hotel room.’”
‘Ah, I thought — Method Acting! I was his mistress and our scenes were set in a hotel room and Biff walks in. He told me to return to rehearsal a few minutes after he did and left me there,’ she recalled.
But the awkward exchange turned out to be the first of many more disturbing incidents.
‘That was the beginning of what was to become a horrific, demoralizing and abusive experience at the hands (literally) of one of my acting idols,’ she said.
Rossetter says Hoffman went so far as to start groping her off stage, between their scenes.
She says Hoffman and the director loved her laugh so much that they made her do it live on stage every night, from the wings, during a memory scene.
Hoffman was backstage with Rossetter during these scenes, and she says one night he started groping her.
‘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,’ she said.
Rossetter recalls a particularly rough night, when Hoffman went so far as to pull her costume – a slip – over her head to expose her breasts.
She says this happened in front of a group of male crew members and she later learned Hoffman had promised them a ‘surprise’ if they gathered hear her backstage.
The shock of the violation had caused her to miss her cue to laugh and she was chewed out by her fellow actors afterward.
She says she tried to tell one of the actors what happened, but he said it was her ‘fault and walked away’.
After this incident, Rossetter says she confronted Hoffman – pushing him up against a wall and screaming ‘F*** you! How would you like it if someone did that to you before you walked out on stage every night, Mr. Method Actor? Leave me alone!’
She says that worked, but only for three days. ‘And then it was back to groping as usual,’ she said.
On another occasion, Rossetter says she was summoned to Hoffman’s room in the middle of the play by his dresser. She thought he wanted to give her notes on a scene, but instead he asked her to give him a massage.
‘He wanted me to rub his feet. Get on my knees and rub his feet. I froze. I gave a little foot rub and ran out,’ she said.
She says this happened on multiple occasions, and each time Hoffman’s dresser would wait outside the room standing guard.
‘Whenever possible, I hid and tried not to be found. But the boss was relentless. Dustin would whisper, “higher, higher,” trying to get me to move up his pants legs toward his genitals. I didn’t do it. I would stop at his calves,’ Rossetter said.
Rossetter said she felt ‘trapped’ in these situations since they were just feet from the stage. If she yelled out, the audience would hear.
And it wasn’t just on the job that Hoffman harassed Rossetter. She says he regularly groped her breasts whenever they took pictures together.
‘After the shows at parties, whenever he had a picture taken with me, he would put his arm around my rib cage and then grab my breast just before they snapped the picture and then remove it. He was very skilled at dropping his hand just as the picture snapped to avoid it being recorded,’ she said.
While Hoffman was skilled at moving his hand away before the picture was taken, she says she once caught him in the act. She shared the image with the Hollywood Reporter.
‘Only by luck do I have one such picture — where the camera caught him in the act. A picture I had taken with hopes of sending it to my family. A millisecond in time. There I am — big smile and my arm moving toward his with the intention to push it away. But caught as it is, it seems I’m complicit with the gesture. I was not. Not ever,’ she said.
Rossetter says she ‘tried everything to get him to stop’ but Hoffman was relentless.
‘I tried to laugh it off, smack him and say witty, pointed things. I begged him nicely with tears in my eyes to please stop it. To no avail,’ she said.
She even considered reporting Hoffman to Actors Equity, but was convinced not to by colleagues who said it could ruin her career.
‘I was cautioned by some respected theatre professionals that if I did, I would probably lose my job and, because he was such a powerful star, any hope of a career. It was Dustin’s playpen. He controlled the purse strings,’ she said.
The nightly attacks sent Rossetter into a depression. She withdrew from her work and says she felt isolated, unable to make friends in the cast.
Like many victims, she started to blame herself.
‘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?’ she said.
Faced with little recourse, Rossetter continued to work – though it led to many a night crying at home.
When the play closed, they reunited a month later to film the television movie. She was only onset for three days so she says she doesn’t know about Hoffman’s treatment of any of the other women working on the film, including Anna Graham Hunter, who told her story to the Hollywood reporter last month. But she says ‘nothing I hear surprises me’.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the end of filming did not end the groping from Hoffman.
In the fall of 1985, they were promoting the film when Rossetter says Hoffman groped her while they were posing for a picture at a screening.
This time, she had had enough. Rossetter snapped and decided to give Hoffman a taste of his own medicine.
‘Without thinking, a knee-jerk response built up over two years, I grabbed his crotch,’ she said.
But she immediately felt bad for what she had done.
‘In that moment I understood how women abused for many years by husbands or boyfriends will pick up a gun or a knife and suddenly attack back. I also knew I had snapped and what I had done was awful. I was terrified and humiliated,’ she recalled.
Rossetter says she continues to struggle with the groping she suffered at the hands of Hoffman.
‘There is no denying I learned an enormous amount from him about acting. He was generous in the many presents he gave us and the many parties he threw. He can do all that and still be a man who manipulates, abuses his power and is a pig to women. They are not mutually exclusive.
‘My issue isn’t what he said, it’s what he did. Along with the nightly sexual harassment, he eroded my confidence, my dignity. He humiliated and demeaned me. He robbed me of my joy in the experience and he left dirty fingerprints on my soul,’ she added.
Comedian John Oliver confronted Hoffman about the wave of allegations at a film screening on Monday, and Hoffman denied the accusations in a heated exchange with the pundit
Hoffman declined to comment on Rossetter’s essay to the Hollywood Reporter.
Hoffman’s essay was published a little over a month after Anna Graham Hunter wrote a similar account of Hoffman’s harassment.
In an essay also published in the Hollywood Reporter, Hunter said Hoffman repeatedly groped and harassed her when she was a 17-year-old production assistant on the Death of a Salesman movie. Since then, the Hollywood Reporter says they’ve heard from several more women who claim they were harassed by Hoffman as well, in incidents dating back to the 1970s
Shortly after Hunter’s story was published, Wendy Riss Gatsiounis told Variety about how Hoffman asked her several sex-fueled questions during a business meeting in 1991.
Hoffman’s handsy-behavior has been somewhat well known for years. Both Meryl Streep and Katherine Ross have recalled in past interviews how the actor groped them during auditions.
But it wasn’t until the stories resurfaced during the ongoing “Me Too” movement that Hoffman has faced significant public scrutiny over his actions.
On Monday, John Oliver confronted the movie legend about the allegations at a film screening, but Hoffman denied the claims in a heated exchange with the pundit.