Frances Sternhagen

Family tree of Frances Sternhagen

Actor

AmericanBorn Frances Hussey Sternhagen

American actress

Born on January 13, 1930 in Washington, D.C. , United States

Died on November 27, 2023 in New Rochelle, New York , United States

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Frances Hussey Sternhagen (January 13, 1930 – November 27, 2023) was an American actress. Sternhagen was known as a character actress who appeared on- and off-Broadway, in movies, and on television for over six decades. She received numerous accolades including two Tony Awards, a Drama Desk Award and a Saturn Award, as well as nominations for three Primetime Emmy Awards.
Sternhagen gained acclaim for her extensive career on the Broadway stage. She made her debut in The Skin of Our Teeth (1955). She went on to receive two Tony Awards for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performances as various characters in Neil Simon's comedic play The Good Doctor (1973) and as Lavinia Penniman in Ruth and Augustus Goetz's dramatic play The Heiress (1995). Her other Tony-nominated roles were for The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window (1972), Equus (1975), Angel (1978), On Golden Pond (1979), and Morning's at Seven (2002).
She gained prominence and Primetime Emmy Award nominations for her recurring roles as Esther Clavin in the NBC sitcom Cheers (1986–1993) and Bunny MacDougal in the HBO series Sex and the City (2000–2002). She also had recurring roles in the NBC medical drama ER (1994–2009), and the TNT series The Closer (2006–2012). Sternhagen acted in numerous films including The Hospital (1971), Starting Over (1979), Misery (1990), and Julie & Julia (2009).
...   Frances Hussey Sternhagen (January 13, 1930 – November 27, 2023) was an American actress. Sternhagen was known as a character actress who appeared on- and off-Broadway, in movies, and on television for over six decades. She received numerous accolades including two Tony Awards, a Drama Desk Award and a Saturn Award, as well as nominations for three Primetime Emmy Awards.
Sternhagen gained acclaim for her extensive career on the Broadway stage. She made her debut in The Skin of Our Teeth (1955). She went on to receive two Tony Awards for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performances as various characters in Neil Simon's comedic play The Good Doctor (1973) and as Lavinia Penniman in Ruth and Augustus Goetz's dramatic play The Heiress (1995). Her other Tony-nominated roles were for The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window (1972), Equus (1975), Angel (1978), On Golden Pond (1979), and Morning's at Seven (2002).
She gained prominence and Primetime Emmy Award nominations for her recurring roles as Esther Clavin in the NBC sitcom Cheers (1986–1993) and Bunny MacDougal in the HBO series Sex and the City (2000–2002). She also had recurring roles in the NBC medical drama ER (1994–2009), and the TNT series The Closer (2006–2012). Sternhagen acted in numerous films including The Hospital (1971), Starting Over (1979), Misery (1990), and Julie & Julia (2009).


Early life and education
Frances Hussey Sternhagen was born in Washington, D.C., on January 13, 1930. Her father was tax court judge John M. Sternhagen and her mother was a homemaker who served as a nurse during World War I. She was educated at the Madeira and Potomac schools in McLean, Virginia. At Vassar College, she was elected head of the Drama Club "after silencing a giggling college crowd at a campus dining hall with her interpretation of a scene from Richard II, playing none other than Richard himself". She attended the Catholic University of America as a graduate student. She also studied at the Perry Mansfield School of the Theatre, and at New York City's Neighborhood Playhouse.


Career


1948–1973: Early work
Sternhagen started her career teaching acting, singing, and dancing to school children at the Milton Academy in Massachusetts, and she first performed in 1948 at a Bryn Mawr summer theater in The Glass Menagerie and Angel Street. She went on to work at Washington's Arena Stage from 1953 to 1954, then made her Broadway debut in 1955 as Miss T. Muse in The Skin of Our Teeth. The same year, she had her off-Broadway debut in Thieves' Carnival, and her TV debut in The Great Bank Robbery on Omnibus (CBS). By the following year, she had won her first Obie Award for "Distinguished Performance (Actress)" in The Admirable Bashville (1955–56).
Sternhagen made her film debut in Up the Down Staircase (1967). Following this, she worked periodically in Hollywood. She had character roles in the Paddy Chayefsky-written The Hospital (1971), Two People (1973), and Billy Wilder's Fedora (1978). Sternhagen appeared as the Daughter in the original 1971 Broadway production of Edward Albee's All Over with Colleen Dewhurst and Jessica Tandy. She worked for many years in soap operas such as Another World, The Secret Storm, Love of Life, and The Doctors, and she played two roles on One Life to Live. She is also recognized as Mrs. Marsh from a series of television commercials for Colgate toothpaste that aired in the 1970s.


1974–1993: Theater roles and Cheers
Sternhagen won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play in 1974 for the original Broadway production of Neil Simon's The Good Doctor. She was also nominated for Tony Awards in that decade for her roles in Lorraine Hansberry's The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window (1972), Equus (1975), the musical Angel (1978), which was based on Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel, and On Golden Pond (1979). She was also nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play in 1979 for On Golden Pond. Sternhagen portrayed the title character in 1988's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Driving Miss Daisy, which was originated by Dana Ivey at Playwrights Horizons in New York. Sternhagen took over the role after the show moved to the John Houseman Theatre and played it for more than two years.
During this time Sternhagen appeared as Charles Durning's strong-willed wife in Starting Over (1979) with Burt Reynolds and Jill Clayburgh, the acerbic and tough-as-nails Dr. Marian Lazarus opposite Sean Connery in Outland (1981), a turn that garnered her a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress, and played roles in Bright Lights, Big City (1988) and Doc Hollywood (1991), both alongside Michael J. Fox. Sternhagen's work as Sheriff Buster (Richard Farnsworth)'s wife Deputy Virginia in Rob Reiner's Misery (1990), an adaptation of Stephen King's 1987 novel of the same name, and her performance as Dr. Lynn Waldheim in Brian De Palma's 1992 psychological horror-thriller Raising Cain garnered her two more career Saturn Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress. Sternhagen also played Farrah Fawcett's mother in See You in the Morning (1989). She may be best known to TV audiences as Esther Clavin, mother of John Ratzenberger's Boston postman character Cliff Clavin, on the long-running series Cheers which she played from 1986 to 1993. For her performance, she received two Primetime Emmy Award nominations.


1994–2014: Final roles
Sternhagen won a second Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play in 1995 for the revival of The Heiress. She received her seventh and final Tony Award nomination for the 2002 revival of Paul Osborn's Morning's at Seven. Sternhagen's later television roles included Millicent Carter on ER; Bunny MacDougal, mother of Charlotte's first husband Trey, on Sex and the City (another Emmy Award nomination); a memorable Willie Rae Johnson (mother of Brenda Leigh Johnson, played by Kyra Sedgwick) on The Closer; and Law & Order, among other network dramas and sitcoms. She recorded a voice-over for a May 2002 episode of The Simpsons ("The Frying Game").
In the summer of 2005, she starred in the Broadway production of Steel Magnolias along with Marsha Mason, Delta Burke, Christine Ebersole, Lily Rabe, and Rebecca Gayheart. She also starred in the 2005 revival of Edward Albee's Seascape, produced by Lincoln Center Theater at the Booth Theater on Broadway. She received Drama Desk Award nominations in 1998 for a revival of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night (which starred her own son, Paul Carlin, as her character's son, Jamie Tyrone) for the Irish Repertory Theatre and in 2005 for the World War I drama Echoes of the War. In 2013, Sternhagen was awarded the Obie Award for Lifetime Achievement. She is included in the New Rochelle Walk of Fame. Her final film roles included Irene Reppler, one of the numerous local townfolk trapped in a supermarket, in Frank Darabont's horror-chiller The Mist (2007), real-life Joy of Cooking author Irma Rombauer in Julie & Julia (2009), Clearwater Aquarium owner Gloria Forrest in Dolphin Tale (2011) and, in her final screen appearance, Claire in the Rob Reiner romantic comedy And So It Goes (2014) starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton.


Personal life and death
Sternhagen met Thomas A. Carlin while in graduate school and was married to him from 1956 until his death in 1991; the couple had six children, four sons and two daughters.
Sternhagen was a longtime resident of New Rochelle, New York. She died at her home on November 27, 2023, at the age of 93.


Filmography


Film


Television


Theatre


Awards and nominations


References


External links

Frances Sternhagen at the Internet Broadway Database
Frances Sternhagen at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
Frances Sternhagen at IMDb
Frances Sternhagen discography at Discogs



Biography from Wikipedia (see original) under licence CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Geographical origins

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