Thursday, June 09, 2005
Hollywood now has no Annes of any worth - Anne Baxter long dead, Miss Bancroft (Mrs. Brooks really) now gone... who is left? Anne Archer? She is reduced to cameo on The L Word! Anne Heche? She should be next on the show... Anne Hathaway? Puh-leeeeeze... And, also, please refrain from making any mention of Anne Rice as well... (ran out of thespian annes already - *lol*).
Queen Anne is dead - long live the queen - as she will live on in her long and illustrious flurry of roles preserved on celluloid... thankfully!
NEW YORK (AP) - Anne Bancroft, who won the 1962 best-actress Oscar as the teacher of a young Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker but achieved greater fame as the seductive Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate, has died.
She was 73. She died of uterine cancer Monday at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital, John Barlow, a spokesman for her husband, Mel Brooks, said Tuesday.
Bancroft was awarded the Tony for creating the role on Broadway of Annie Sullivan, the teacher of the deaf and blind Keller. She repeated her portrayal in the film version.
Yet, despite her Academy Award and four other nominations, The Graduate overshadowed her other achievements.
Dustin Hoffman delivered the famous line when he realized his girlfriend's mother was coming on to him at her house: "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?"
Bancroft complained to a 2003 interviewer: "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."
Mike Nichols, who directed The Graduate, called Bancroft a masterful performer.
"Her combination of brains, humour, frankness and sense were unlike any other artist," Nichols said in a statement.
"Her beauty was constantly shifting with her roles and because she was a consummate actress she changed radically for every part."
Her beginnings in Hollywood were unimpressive. She was signed by Twentieth Century-Fox in 1952 and given the glamour treatment. She had been acting in television as Anne Marno (her real name: Anna Maria Louise Italiano) but it sounded too ethnic for movies. The studio gave her a choice of names; she picked Bancroft "because it sounded dignified."
After a series of B pictures, she escaped to Broadway in 1958 and won her first Tony opposite Henry Fonda in Two for the Seesaw. The stage and movie versions of The Miracle Worker followed. Her other Academy nominations: The Pumpkin Eater (1964); The Graduate (1967); The Turning Point (1977); Agnes of God (1985).
Bancroft became known for her willingness to assume a variety of portrayals. She appeared as Winston Churchill's mother in TV's Young Winston; as Golda Meir in Golda onstage; a gypsy woman in the film Love Potion No. 9 and a centenarian for the TV version of Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.
After an unhappy three-year marriage to builder Martin May, Bancroft married comedian-director-producer Brooks in 1956. They met when she was rehearsing a musical number, Married I Can Always Get, for the Perry Como television show and a voice from offstage called: "I'm Mel Brooks."
In a 1984 interview she said she told her psychiatrist the next day: "Let's speed this process up - I've met the right man. See, I'd never had so much pleasure being with another human being."
"I wanted him to enjoy me too. It was that simple."
A son, Maximilian, was born in 1972.
Bancroft appeared in three of Brooks's comedies: Silent Movie, a remake of To Be or Not to Be and Dracula: Dead and Loving It.
She also was the one who suggested that he make a stage musical of his movie The Producers. She explained when he was afraid of writing a full-blown musical, including the music, "I sent him to an analyst."
When Bancroft watched Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick rehearse The Producers, she realized how much she had missed the theatre. In 2002 she returned to Broadway for the first time since 1981, appearing in Edward Albee's Occupant.
She was born Sept. 17, 1931, in the Bronx to Italian immigrant parents. She recalled scrawling "I want to be an actress" on the back fence of her flat when she was nine.
Her father derided her ambitions, saying: "Who are we to dream these dreams?"
Her mother was the dreamer, encouraging her daughter in 1958 to enrol at the American Academy for Dramatic Arts.
Live television drama was flourishing in New York in the early 1950s and Bancroft appeared in 50 shows in two years.
"It was the greatest school that one could go to," she said in 1997.
"You learn to be concentrated and focused."
In mid-career Bancroft attended the Actors Studio to heighten her understanding of the acting craft. Later she studied at the American Film Institute's Directing Workshop for Women at UCLA. In 1980 she directed a feature, Fatso, starring Dom DeLuise. It received modest attention.
Among her notable portrayals: a potential suicide in The Slender Thread; Mary Magdalene in Franco Zeffirelli's miniseries Jesus of Nazareth; actress Madge Kindle in The Elephant Man; Anthony Hopkins' pen pal in 84 Charing Cross Road; feminist U.S. senator in G.I. Jane; the Miss Havisham role in a modernized Great Expectations.
Despite all her memorable performances, Bancroft was remembered most for Mrs. Robinson. In 2003 she admitted nearly everyone discouraged her from undertaking the role "because it was all about sex with a younger man."
She viewed the character as having unfulfilled dreams and having been relegated to a conventional life with a conventional husband.
She added: "Film critics said I gave a voice to the fear we all have: that we'll reach a certain point in our lives, look around and realize that all the things we said we'd do and become will never come to be - and that we're ordinary."
Anne Bancroft's film work
A selection of films in which Anne Bancroft appeared:
Don't Bother to Knock, 1952
Tonight We Sing, 1953
Treasure of the Golden Condor, 1953
The Kid from Left Field, 1953
Gorilla at Large, 1954
Demetrius and the Gladiators, 1954
The Raid, 1954
New York Confidential, 1955
The Restless Breed, 1957
The Girl in Black Stockings, 1957
The Miracle Worker, 1962
The Pumpkin Eater, 1964
The Slender Thread, 1965
7 Women, 1966
The Graduate, 1967
Young Winston, 1972
The Turning Point, 1977
The Elephant Man, 1980
To Be or Not to Be, 1983
Garbo Talks, 1984
Agnes of God, 1985
'Night, Mother, 1986
84 Charing Cross Road, 1987
Torch Song Trilogy, 1988
Rigby, You're a Fool, 1989
How to Make an American Quilt, 1995
Up at the Villa, 2000
Source: Internet Movie Database.
On the Net:
Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com