Who was Frances Sternhagen? Tony Award Winning Actress Dead at 93

Frances Sternhagen, the iconic Broadway luminary with two Tony Awards and five nominations to her name, passed away on November 27 at the age of 93. Her son, actor John Carlin, announced her peaceful demise from natural causes on Instagram.

In a heartfelt tribute, Carlin shared the news, saying, “Frannie. Mom. Frances Sternhagen. On Monday night, Nov 27, she died peacefully at her home, a month and a half shy of her 94th birthday.” Carlin concluded the tribute with a poignant farewell: “Fly on, Frannie. The curtain goes down on a life so richly, passionately, humbly, and generously lived.”

Renowned for her illustrious career on the New York stage, Sternhagen left an enduring mark with standout performances in productions such as the 1972 staging of “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window,” “Equus” in 1975, “Angel” in 1978, “On Golden Pond” in 1979, and “Morning’s at Seven” in 2002. Each of these roles earned her Tony nominations.

Her Tony victories, both for Best Featured Actress/Play, occurred in 1974 for Neil Simon’s “The Good Doctor” and in 1995 for Augustus Goetz’s “The Heiress.”

Although she did not reprise two of her notable stage roles in subsequent film adaptations – Joan Plowright took on the part of Equus‘ Dora Strang, and Katharine Hepburn famously portrayed Ethel Thayer in the movie adaptation of “On Golden Pond” – Sternhagen left an indelible mark on the film industry. She delivered memorable and often scene-stealing performances in films such as “Up the Down Staircase” (1967), Paddy Chayefsky’s “The Hospital” (1971), Billy Wilder’s “Fedora” (1978), and, in 1988, “Bright Lights, Big City,” where she played the stern boss of the magazine fact-checker portrayed by Michael J. Fox.