Eileen Heckart Biography

Eileen Heckart was an award-winning actor, known for her versatile character roles. Check out this biography to know about her childhood, family, career, achievements, etc.

Quick Facts

Birthday: March 29, 1919

Nationality: American

Famous: Actresses American Women

Died At Age: 82

Sun Sign: Aries

Also Known As: Anna Eileen Herbert

Born Country: United States

Born in: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Famous as: Actress

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: John Harrison Yankee Jr. (m. 1942–1997)

father: J.W. Heckart

mother: Esther Stark

siblings: Anne Fraggiotti, Marilyn Pickering

children: Luke Yankee, Mark Yankee, Philip Yankee

Died on: December 31, 2001

place of death: Norwalk, Connecticut, United States

U.S. State: Ohio

Cause of Death: Lung Cancer

City: Columbus, Ohio

More Facts

education: Ohio State University, Bexley High School

awards: 1973 · Butterflies Are Free - Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
1994 · Love & War - Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
2000 · The Waverly Gallery - Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play

1957 · The Bad Seed - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
2000 · The Waverly Gallery - Obie Award for Performance
2000 - Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre
2000 · The Waverly Gallery - Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lead Actress
2000 · The Waverly Gallery - Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play
2000 - Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Body of Work

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Eileen Heckart was an award-winning actor, known for her versatile character roles. She began her acting career with ‘Broadway’ theater and eventually turned to the small and big screens. She won prestigious awards such as the 'Academy Award,' the 'Emmy Award,' and the 'Tony Award.' Many of her stellar performances were as a mother, in projects such as 'Somebody Up There Likes Me,' 'The Bad Seed,' 'Love & War,' and 'One Life to Live.' At the age of 81, her portrayal of an aging grandmother with Alzheimer's disease in the ‘Off-Broadway’ production 'The Waverly Gallery' won her several awards, including the 'Lucille Lortel Award' and the 'Drama League Award.'

Childhood & Early Life
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Theatrical Career
  • In 1943, after completing her studies, she began working as an assistant stage manager and an understudy for the ‘Broadway’ comedy 'The Voice of the Turtle.'
  • She was part of numerous ‘Broadway’ and ‘Off-Broadway’ productions such as 'Picnic,' 'The Bad Seed,' 'A View from the Bridge,' 'A Memory of Two Mondays,' 'The Dark at the Top of the Stairs,' 'A Family Affair,' 'And Things That Go Bump in the Night,' 'Barefoot in the Park,' 'Butterflies Are Free,' 'You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running,' 'The Cemetery Club,' and 'The Waverly Gallery.'
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Television Career
  • She made her debut appearance on TV in 1949. She initially appeared in three series, namely, 'The Philco Television Playhouse’ (also in 1950, 1952, 1953, and 1955), 'Kraft Theatre’ (also in 1950, 1956, and 1957), and 'Suspense’ (also in 1950, 1951, and 1952).
  • The following year, she appeared on four shows: ‘The Ford Theatre Hour,' 'Robert Montgomery Presents,' 'Studio One in Hollywood’ (two episodes in 1950 and one in 1957), and 'Lux Video Theatre.’
  • In 1951, she was seen in the series 'The Web,' The Big Story,' and 'Out There.' In 1952, she appeared in 'Danger' and 'Short Short Dramas.'
  • In 1953, she appeared in her first TV movie, 'The Trip to Bountiful,' and the TV series 'The Goodyear Playhouse.'
  • In the next 2 years, she earned three TV series, namely, 'Justice,' 'Campbell Summer Sound Stage,' and 'Windows.' In 1956, she appeared in the TV movie 'The Little Foxes.'
  • In 1957, she was seen in an episode of the TV series 'The Alcoa Hour.' After a brief hiatus from TV, she returned in 1959, with two episodes of 'Playhouse 90' and a TV movie named 'A Doll's House.'
  • In the early 1960s, she appeared in quite a few TV shows, playing one-episode roles in many of them. Some of her notable shows from that time were 'Play of the Week (two episodes in 1960 and one in 1961),' 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' (1961), 'The New Breed' (1961), 'Dr. Kildare' (1962), 'Naked City (one episode in 1962 and another in 1963), 'Ben Casey' (1963), and 'The Eleventh Hour' (1963).
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  • In the mid-1960s, she was seen in 'The Defenders' (one episode in 1964), 'The Fugitive' (two episodes in 1964 and one in 1967), 'The Doctors and the Nurses' (one episode in 1965), 'The F.B.I.' (one episode in 1965), and ‘Gunsmoke’ (one episode in 1965 and another in 1969).
  • In the late 1960s, she was cast in 'The Felony Squad' (one episode in 1966), 'New York Television Theatre' (two episodes, both in 1966), 'CBS Playhouse' (one episode in 1968), and 'Corwin' (one episode in 1969).
  • From 1970 to 1976, she appeared in the TV projects 'All the Way Home,' 'The Streets of San Francisco,' 'The Victim,' 'Banyon,' 'Love Story,' 'Barnaby Jones,' 'Wedding Band,' 'Lily,' 'The F.B.I. Story: The FBI Versus Alvin Karpis, Public Enemy Number One,' 'Hawaii Five-O,' 'Rhoda,' 'Switch,' ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show,' and 'Alice.’
  • Toward the end of the 1970s, she appeared in two TV movies: ‘Sunshine Christmas' and 'Suddenly, Love.’ She also appeared in quite as few series, some of the most notable being 'Flying High' (as ‘Ruthie'), 'Little House on the Prairie' (as 'Amanda Cooper'), 'Backstairs at the White House' (as the real-life character Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt), '3 by Cheever' (as 'Rosemary'), and 'Out of the Blue’ (as 'The Boss Angel’).
  • She portrayed 'Eleanor Roosevelt' again in a TV movie named 'F.D.R.: The Last Year,' toward the beginning of the 1980s. She reprised her character in 'Lou Grant,' a spin-off of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show.'
  • In 1981 and 1982, she acted in three TV movies: 'The Big Black Pill,' 'Table Settings,' and 'Games Mother Never Taught You.'
  • From 1981 to 1984, she performed in multiple episodes of the series ‘Trauma Center,' 'Trapper John, M.D.,' and 'Partners in Crime.' She had a one-episode role in 'Gloria.’
  • By the end of the 1980s, she had portrayed a variety of roles, in projects such as 'Highway to Heaven,' 'The Recovery Room,' 'The Ellen Burstyn Show,' 'One Life to Live,' 'Nine to Five,' 'The Cosby Show,' 'Morning Maggie,' 'Tales from the Darkside,' 'Stuck with Each Other,' and 'Annie McGuire.'
  • After a hiatus of more than 4 years, she returned to work with 'Triumph Over Disaster: The Hurricane Andrew Story,' 'Breathing Lesson,' 'Love & War,' 'Ultimate Betrayal,' 'The 5 Mrs. Buchanans,' 'Murder One,' 'Ellen,' 'Home Improvement,' and 'Cybill.'
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Film Career
  • Heckart made her mainstream feature-film debut in 1956, with the movie 'Miracle in the Rain.' The same year, she appeared in 'Somebody Up There Likes Me,' 'Bus Stop,' 'The Bad Seed.'
  • She had a minor role in the 1958 movie 'Hot Spell.'
  • In the 1960s, she was seen in 'Heller in Pink Tights,' 'My Six Loves,' 'Up the Down Staircase,' 'No Way to Treat a Lady,' and 'The Tree.'
  • Her ‘Academy Award’-winning performance in the 1972 movie 'Butterflies Are Free' made her popularity soar.
  • Some of her other famous movies were 'Zandy's Bride,' 'The Hiding Place, ‘Burnt Offerings,' 'Seize the Day,' 'Heartbreak Ridge,' 'Ultimate Betrayal,' and ‘The First Wives Club.'
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Awards, Honors, & Legacy
  • Her role in the 1956 movie 'The Bad Seed' won Heckart a nomination for the ‘Academy Award’ for the 'Best Supporting Actress ' and the 'Golden Globe Award' (in the same category).
  • In 1972, she earned the ‘Academy Award’ for the 'Best Supporting Actress’ for her performance in the movie 'Butterflies Are Free.'
  • In 1994, she won the 'Emmy Award' for her guest role in 'Love & War.'
  • Her performance in 'The Waverly Gallery' won her awards such as the 'Drama Desk Award' and the 'Outer Critics Circle Award.'
  • In 2000, she was honored with a 'Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement' and was inducted into the 'American Theatre Hall of Fame.'
  • She has a “'star” on the 'Hollywood Walk of Fame.'
  • ‘The 'Eileen Heckart Collection' located at the 'Ohio State University's Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute,' preserves and displays her memorabilia.
  • Her son, Luke Yankee, wrote her biography, 'Just Outside the Spotlight: Growing up with Eileen Heckart.'
  • Since 2005, the Ohio State's ‘Department of Theatre’ has been conducting the 'Eileen Heckart Drama for Seniors Competition.'
  • A scholarship in her memory has been instituted by her sons.
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Family, Personal Life, & Death
  • Heckart was married to John Harrison Yankee, Jr. Their marriage lasted for 55 years and ended with John's death in 1997.
  • She died of lung cancer on December 31, 2001. After her cremation, her ashes were scattered near the 'Music Box Theatre' in Manhattan, New York.
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- Eileen Heckart Biography
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Eileen Heckart

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