Anna Maria Louisa Italiano (September 17, 1931 – June 6, 2005), known professionally as Anne Bancroft, was an American actress, director, screenwriter, and singer associated with the method acting school, having studied under Lee Strasberg. Respected for her acting prowess and versatility, Bancroft was acknowledged for her work in film, theatre, and television. She won one Academy Award, three BAFTA Awards, two Golden Globes, two Tony Awards, and two Emmy Awards, and several other awards and nominations.
Publicity photo of Anne Bancroft in Don't Bother to Knock (1952)
Anna Maria Louisa Italiano
September 17, 1931
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
|Died||June 6, 2005 (aged 73)|
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
|Other names||Ann(e) Marno|
|Occupation||Actress, director, screenwriter and singer|
(m. 1953; div. 1957)
Mel Brooks (m. 1964)
After her film debut in Don't Bother to Knock (1952) and a string of supporting film roles during the 1950s, she won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her lead role in The Miracle Worker (1962) as the teacher of young Helen Keller, reprising her role in the Broadway stage play, winning a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. On Broadway in 1965, she played a medieval nun obsessed with a priest (Jason Robards) in John Whiting's play The Devils, based on the Aldous Huxley novel The Devils of Loudun. She was perhaps best known as the seductress, Mrs. Robinson, in The Graduate (1967), a role that she later said had come to overshadow her other work.
Bancroft received several other Oscar nominations and continued in lead roles until the late 1980s; notable film roles during this time include The Turning Point (1977) and Agnes of God (1985). In 1987, she starred with Anthony Hopkins in 84 Charing Cross Road. She appeared in several movies directed or produced by her second husband, comedian Mel Brooks, including the award-winning drama The Elephant Man (1980), as well as comedies To Be or Not to Be (1983) and Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995). She received an Emmy Award nomination for 2001's Haven, and a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (2003). She died two years later, in 2005, after battling cancer.
Bancroft was born Anna Maria Louisa (or Luisa?) Italiano in the Bronx, New York, the middle of three daughters of Mildred (née DiNapoli; 1908–2010), a telephone operator, and Michael G. Italiano (1905–2001), a dress pattern maker.
Bancroft's parents were both children of Italian immigrants. In an interview, she stated her family was originally from Muro Lucano, in the province of Potenza. She was brought up Roman Catholic. She was raised in the Belmont neighborhood of the Bronx, later moving to 1580 Zerega Ave. and graduated from Christopher Columbus High School in 1948. She later attended HB Studio, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, the Actors Studio and the American Film Institute's Directing Workshop for Women at the University of California, Los Angeles. After appearing in a number of live television dramas under the name Anne Marno, she was told to change her surname, as it was "too ethnic for movies"; she chose Bancroft "because it sounded dignified."
In 1958, Bancroft made her Broadway debut as lovelorn, Bronx-accented Gittel Mosca opposite Henry Fonda (as the married man Gittel loves) in William Gibson's two-character play Two for the Seesaw, directed by Arthur Penn. For Gittel, she won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play.
She won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play in 1960, again with playwright Gibson and director Penn, when she played Annie Sullivan, the young woman who teaches the child Helen Keller to communicate in The Miracle Worker. She appeared in the 1962 film version of the play and won the 1962 Academy Award for Best Actress, with Patty Duke repeating her own success as Keller alongside Bancroft. She had returned to Broadway to star in Mother Courage and Her Children, so Joan Crawford accepted Bancroft's Oscar on her behalf, and later presented the award to her in New York.
Bancroft co-starred as a medieval nun obsessed with a priest (Jason Robards) in the 1965 Broadway production of John Whiting's play The Devils. Produced by Alexander H. Cohen and directed by Michael Cacoyannis, it ran for 63 performances.
Bancroft was widely known during this period for her role as Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate (1967), for which she received a third Academy Award nomination. In the film, she played an unhappily married woman who seduces the son of her husband's business partner, the much younger recent college graduate played by Dustin Hoffman. In the movie, Hoffman's character later dates and falls in love with her daughter. Bancroft was ambivalent about her appearance in The Graduate; she said in several interviews that the role overshadowed her other work. Despite her character becoming an archetype of the "older woman" role, Bancroft was only six years older than Hoffman.
Bancroft is one of very few entertainers to win an Oscar, an Emmy and a Tony award. This rare achievement is also known as the Triple Crown of Acting. She followed that success with a second television special, "Annie and The Hoods" (1974), which was telecast on ABC and featured her husband Mel Brooks as a guest star. She made an uncredited cameo in the film Blazing Saddles (1974), directed by Brooks. She received a fourth Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in 1977 for her performance in The Turning Point (1977) opposite Shirley MacLaine, and a fifth nomination for Best Actress in 1985 for her performance in Agnes of God (1985) opposite Jane Fonda.
Bancroft was the original choice to play Joan Crawford in the film Mommie Dearest (1981), but backed out, and was replaced by Faye Dunaway. She was also a front-runner for the role of Aurora Greenway in Terms of Endearment (1983), but declined so she could act in the remake of To Be or Not to Be (1983), with her husband Mel Brooks. In 1988 she played Harvey Feirstein's mother in the film version of his play Torch Song Trilogy.
In the 1990s and the first half of the 2000s, Bancroft took supporting roles in a number of films in which she co-starred with major film stars—including Honeymoon in Vegas (1992) with Nicolas Cage, Love Potion No. 9 (1992) with Sandra Bullock, Malice (1993) with Nicole Kidman, Point of No Return (1993) with Bridget Fonda, Home for the Holidays (1995) with Robert Downey Jr. and directed by Jodie Foster, How to Make an American Quilt (1995) with Winona Ryder, G.I. Jane (1997) with Demi Moore, Great Expectations (1998) with Gwyneth Paltrow, Keeping the Faith (2000) with Ben Stiller, and Heartbreakers (2001) with Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sigourney Weaver and Gene Hackman. She also lent her voice to the animated film Antz (1998), which also featured performances from Jennifer Lopez, Sharon Stone, and Woody Allen.
Bancroft also starred in several television movies and mini-series, receiving six Emmy Award nominations (winning once for herself and shared for Annie, The Women in the Life of a Man), eight Golden Globe nominations (winning twice), and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.
She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6368 Hollywood Boulevard, for her work in television. At the time of her star's installation (1960), she had recently appeared in several TV series. Bancroft is also a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 1992.
Marriage and familyEdit
In 1961, Bancroft met Mel Brooks at a rehearsal for the Perry Como variety show (Kraft Music Hall). Bancroft and Brooks married on August 5, 1964, at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau near New York City Hall, and remained married until her death. Their son, Maximillian "Max" Brooks, was born on May 22, 1972.
Bancroft and Mel Brooks worked together three times on the screen: once dancing a tango in Brooks's Silent Movie (1976); in his remake of To Be or Not to Be (1983); and in the episode entitled "Opening Night" (2004) of the HBO show, Curb Your Enthusiasm. They were also in Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), but never appeared together. Brooks produced the film The Elephant Man (1980), in which Bancroft acted. He also was executive-producer for the film 84 Charing Cross Road (1987) in which she starred. Both Brooks and Bancroft appeared in season six of The Simpsons. According to the DVD commentary, when Bancroft came to record her lines for the episode "Fear of Flying", the Simpsons writers asked if Brooks had come with her (which he had); she joked, "I can't get rid of him!"[episode needed]
In a 2010 interview, Brooks credited Bancroft as being the guiding force behind his involvement in developing The Producers and Young Frankenstein for the musical theatre. In the same interview, he said of their first meeting in 1961, "From that day, until her death on June 6, 2005, we were glued together."
In April 2005, two months before her death, Bancroft became a grandmother when her daughter-in-law Michelle gave birth to a boy, Henry Michael Brooks.
Anne Bancroft died of uterine cancer at age 73 on June 6, 2005, at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. Her death surprised many, including some of her friends, as the intensely private Bancroft had not released details of her illness. Her body was interred at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York, near her parents, Mildred (who died in April 2010, five years after Anne) and Michael Italiano. A white marble monument with a weeping angel adorns the grave. Her last film, Delgo, was dedicated to her memory.
|1958||Two for the Seesaw||Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play|
|1959||The Miracle Worker||Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play|
|1963||Mother Courage and Her Children|
|1967||The Little Foxes|
|1968||A Cry of Players|
|1977||Golda||Nominated—Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play|
|1981||Duet for One|
|1951||Suspense||TV series, one episode: "Night Break", as Anne Marno.|
|1951||The Ford Theatre Hour||TV series, three episodes, as Anna Marno.|
|1950–1951||Studio One in Hollywood||Maria Cassini||TV series, three episodes, as Anne Marno.|
|1951||The Adventures of Ellery Queen||TV series, one episode: "The Chinese Mummer Mystery", as Anne Marno.|
|1951||Danger||TV series, two episodes: "The Killer Scarf" and "Murderer's Face", as Anne Marno.|
|1951||The Web||TV series, one episode: "The Customs of the Country" as Ann Marno.|
|1951||Lights Out||Helen||TV series, one episode: "The Deal", as Anne Marno.|
|1952||The Goldbergs||TV series, as Anne Marno|
|1953||Omnibus||TV series, one episode: "The Capital of the World"|
|1953||Kraft Television Theatre||TV series, one episode: "To Live in Peace"|
|1954–1957||Lux Video Theatre||Lolita / Sally / Kendal Browning / Ann Sommers / Herself||TV series, five episodes|
|1956–1957||Climax!||Audrey / Elena||TV series, two episodes: "Fear Is the Hunter" (Audrey) and "The Mad Bomber" (Elena)|
|1957||Playhouse 90||Isobel Waring / Julie Bickford||TV series, two episodes: "So Soon to Die" (Isobel Waring) and "Invitation to a Gunfighter" (Julie Bickford)|
|1957||Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre||Isabelle Rutledge||TV series, one episode: "Episode in Darkness" (Isabelle Rutledge) with Dewey Martin and John Anderson|
|1957||The Alcoa Hour||Alegre / Giselle||TV series, two episodes: "Key Largo" (Alegre) and "Hostages to Fortune" (Giselle)|
|1958||The Frank Sinatra Show||Carol Welles||TV series, one episode: "A Time to Cry"|
|1960||Person to Person||Herself||TV series documentary, Episode 7.35|
|1960||Gala Adlai on Broadway||Herself: Performer||TV movie|
|1962||Password All-Stars||Herself||TV series, one episode: "Anne Bancroft vs. Robert Goulet"|
|1962–1964||What's My Line?||Herself: Mystery Guest||TV series, three episodes|
|1964||Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre||Faye Benet Garret||TV series, one episode: "Out on the Outskirts of Town"|
|1967||ABC Stage 67||Virginia||TV series, one episode: "I'm Getting Married"|
|1969||The Kraft Music Hall||Herself||TV series, Episode 2.23|
|1970||Arthur Penn, 1922-: Themes and Variants||TV documentary|
|1970||This Is Tom Jones||Herself||TV series documentary, Episode 3.1|
|1970||Annie: The Women in the Life of a Man||Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety or Musical Program – Variety and Popular Music|
|1974||Annie and the Hoods||Herself: Hostess||TV movie|
|1977||Jesus of Nazareth||Mary Magdalene||TV mini-series; Parts 1 and 2|
|1978||The Stars Salute Israel at 30||Herself||TV movie|
|1978||Lørdagshjørnet||Herself||TV series, one episode: "Mel Brooks", also archive footage|
|1978||The Wonderful World of Disney||Herself||TV series, one episode: "Mickey's 50"|
|1979||The Muppets Go Hollywood||Herself||TV special, uncredited|
|1980||Shogun||Narrator of US home video version||Voice, TV mini-series|
|1982||Marco Polo||Marco's mother||TV mini-series|
|1982||Bob Hope's Women I Love: Beautiful, But Funny||Herself||TV special|
|1983||An Audience with Mel Brooks||Herself||TV special|
|1990||Freddie and Max||Maxine (Max) Chandler||TV series, six episodes|
|1992||Broadway Bound||Kate Jerome||TV movie |
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Mini-Series or a Movie
|1992||Mrs. Cage||Lillian Cage||Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Mini-Series or a Movie|
|1994||Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All||Lucy Marsden (age 99–100)||TV movie |
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Mini-Series or a Movie
|1994||Great Performances||Mrs. Fanning||TV series, one episode: "Paddy Chayefsky's 'The Mother'"|
|1994||The Simpsons||Dr. Zweig||Voice role, one episode: "Fear of Flying"|
|1996||Homecoming||Abigail Tillerman||TV movie |
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Mini-Series or Television Movie
|1998||The Secret World of 'Antz'||Herself||TV documentary|
|1998||Living with Cancer: A Message of Hope||Narrator||TV documentary|
|1999||Deep in My Heart||Geraldine "Gerry" Eileen Cummins||TV movie |
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Mini-Series or a Movie
|1999||AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Dustin Hoffman||Herself||TV special documentary|
|2000||The Rosie O'Donnell Show||Herself||TV talk show|
|2000||The Living Edens||Narrator||TV series documentary, one episode: "Anamalai: India's Elephant Mountain"|
|2001||Exhale with Candice Bergen||Herself||TV series, one episode|
|2001||Haven||Mama Gruber||TV movie |
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Mini-Series or a Movie
|2003||The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone||Contessa||Emmy Award Nomination for Supporting Actress|
|2004||Curb Your Enthusiasm||Herself||TV series, one episode: "Opening Night"|
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...Anne Bancroft, one of the world's most respected and versatile actresses...
- A. Willis, John (2005). "Screen World". 55.
An impassioned, clever, and gifted actress who has been equally brilliant in both drama and comedy, emerging as one of the most enduring and respected performers of her generation.
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