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Hollywood Remembers Anne Bancroft

Anne Bancroft (1992 photo)
Fans and friends are remembering actress Anne Bancroft, who died of cancer Monday in New York. She won an Oscar for her role in The Miracle Worker, but is best remembered for portraying the seductress Mrs. Robinson in the film The Graduate.

Anne Bancroft had a 50-year career on the Broadway stage and Hollywood screen, earning acclaim for her role as Anne Sullivan, a courageous teacher who helped a blind and deaf girl, Helen Keller, to blossom.

Anne Bancroft won an Oscar in 1963 for her role in the film The Miracle Worker. She had already won a Tony award on Broadway for the role.

In 1967, she made a lasting impression on audiences when she played a jaded, middle-aged housewife in The Graduate, opposite a young Dustin Hoffman.

Anne Bancroft was born Anna Maria Italiano in 1931 to Italian immigrants in New York.

She began studying at New York's American Academy of Dramatic Arts at age 17. She first worked in television, then moved to Hollywood to try her hand at movies, changing her name to Bancroft at the urging of producer Darryl Zanuck. Returning to New York to study at the famous Actors Studio, she won her first Tony award on Broadway for her 1958 performance in Two for the Seesaw. She would earn her second Tony for Miracle Worker.

Patty Duke, who as young actress played Helen Keller opposite Anne Bancroft in the stage play and the film, recalled her distinctive, husky voice and "wicked" sense of humor. The actor Dustin Hoffman recalled her exuberance.

Fans gathered on Hollywood Boulevard to place flowers on Anne Bancroft's star on the Walk of Fame. In another part of Los Angeles, fan Edith Wolff reminisced.

"I loved her,” she said. “She was one of my favorite actresses. She had power on the stage as well as on television, in movies. I really enjoyed her."

Anne Bancroft earned five Oscar nominations for her movies, including one for the film The Turning Point in 1977 and another for Agnes of God in 1985.

In the 1990s, she starred in some memorable television dramas and had roles in a number of movies, including the animated feature Antz.

She was married for 41 years to comedian and director Mel Brooks, and they had one son. The actress, who was 73, had suffered from uterine cancer.