Another woman has come forward to allege that actor Dustin Hoffman sexually harassed her during their time performing in the 1985 Broadway revival and TV movie of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Actress Kathryn Rossetter detailed in The Hollywood Reporter how her coworker used his star power to repeatedly grope her and pressure her into massages, among other inappropriate behavior. Rossetter’s account is not the first time Hoffman’s workplace conduct around women has been problematic; earlier this week, comedian John Oliver grilled the 80-year-old actor on prior complaints of sexual harassment.
Rossetter’s account is a harrowing account describing how Hoffman allegedly used his influence in the theater world to repeatedly harass his young coworker. Hoffman was a mentor to the actress; she writes that they had a rapport from her first audition for the role of Hoffman’s character’s mistress, and that Hoffman and his makeup artist came to Rossetter’s apartment the day before a callback to help make her look older (the director’s concern). But Hoffman’s behavior, according to Rossetter, quickly veered into harassment. He asked her to stop by his hotel room so he could retrieve something he’d forgot, then (in a Weinstein-esque move; do these men exchange notes on predatory strategies?) asked for a back rub.
When they were in the wings waiting to go onstage, Hoffman would place his hand on the inside of Rossetter’s thighs, night after night, his gropes growing increasingly aggressive. Rossetter was on a live microphone, so she could never protest in the moment. “Along with the nightly sexual harassment,” Rossetter writes, “he eroded my confidence, my dignity. He humiliated and demeaned me.”
Once, Rossetter alleges, Hoffman even pulled her slip up, revealing her body and breasts to the crew who’d gathered to witness his idea of a joke. He also had a habit of groping women’s breasts as they posed for photos with him; later, when Rossetter wrote a script that included that anecdote, Hoffman’s office asked to see it, and Rossetter was so intimidated that she stopped working on the project entirely. And as a famous actor, Hoffman had enablers; a dresser who guarded the dressing room door as the actor asked Rossetter to massage his feet and legs or the theater professionals who warned the actress she would lose her job if she reported Hoffman to Actors’ Equity.
“How,” Rossetter recollects thinking, “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 early November, Anne Graham Hunter, a former production assistant on the TV film Death of a Salesman, alleged that Hoffman had groped her and made sexual remarks towards her (and similarly harassed other coworkers). In response, Hoffman issued a half-hearted apology, although he clarified to John Oliver that the statement was not an admission of guilt. In 1991, Hoffman also allegedly propositioned Wendy Riss Gatsiounis, then a 20-something struggling playwright. The actor has also openly discussed groping actress Anne Bancroft’s breast and pinching Katharine Ross’* butt while filming The Graduate in the 1960s.
While Hoffman’s representatives did not comment on Rossetter’s allegations, they did put the publication into contact with people who had been involved with Death of a Salesman and vouched that Hoffman had not behaved with impropriety.
Correction, Dec. 8, 2017: This post originally misspelled Katharine Ross’ first name.