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Anne Bancroft - An obituary

Obituary by: Jack Foley

OSCAR-winning actress, Anne Bancroft, has died in New York at the age of 73, following a battle with cancer.

The popular film star remains best-known for her role as Mrs Robinson in classic film, The Graduate, alongside Dustin Hoffman.

But she enjoyed a long and varied career, during which she received five Oscar nominations.

Her one win came for playing the teacher of a young Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker in 1963.

But she was also nominated for The Graduate (1967), as well as the 1964 marriage drama, The Pumpkin Eater; ballet drama, The Turning Point (1978) and for her portrayal of a nun in thriller, Agnes of God (1985).

According to her publicist, she died of uterine cancer on Monday, June 6, 2005, at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York.

Born Anna Maria Italiano in 1931, in New York's Bronx, she developed her love of acting at an early age and began as a regular on live television dramas, using the name Anne Marno.

However, upon her move into films in the early 1950s, that name was deemed 'too ethnic' and filmmakers gave her a choice of new surnames.

She subsequently chose Bancroft because 'it sounded dignified'.

Her big breakthrough came on the stage, however, when she won a Tony Award in 1958 for Two For The Seesaw, opposite Henry Fonda, on Broadway in 1958.

She also first appeared in The Miracle Worker on stage, and it was that role that helped launch her big screen career, quickly earning a reputation as one of the most talented leading ladies of her generation.

In the 1960s alone, she earned three Oscar nominations despite only appearing ina few films.

While her popularity continued to grow throughout the Seventies, with films such as Richard Attenborough's Young Winston and The Prisoner of Second Avenue, with Jack Lemmon.

In 1964, she married comedian, Mel Brooks, whom she went on to appear alongside in the 1980s film, To Be Or Not To Be.

And she also delivered another memorable performance alongside Anthony Hopkins in 84 Charing Cross Road.

Despite moving away from the movie limelight as she got older, her television work generated just as much acclaim and she received six Emmy nominations since 1992.

Of her recent movie roles, she contributed memorably to films such as Great Expectations, Keeping The Faith and animated hit, Antz.

Given her love and background in theatre, she was also credited with persuading her husband to work on a stage musical version of his film The Producers, which can currently be seen in both the West End and on Broadway.

The Graduate was also turned into a West End hit, with Kathleen Turner delivering an equally memorable performance as Mrs Robinson.

Incredibly, Bancroft did come to view the iconic role as something of a mixed blessing, in that she felt it had overshadowed many of her other acting achievements.

Speaking in 2003, she was quoted as saying: "I am quite surprised that with all my work - and some of it is very, very good - that nobody talks about The Miracle Worker.

"We're talking about Mrs Robinson. I understand the world... I'm just a little dismayed that people aren't beyond it yet."


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