Frances Sternhagen

Birth Place: Washington, DC, USA

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Frances Sternhagen BIO

Sternhagen started her career teaching acting, singing, and dancing to school children at the Milton Academy in Massachusetts, and she first performed in 1948 at a Bryn Mawr summer theater in The Glass Menagerie and Angel Street. She went on to work at Washington's Arena Stage from 1953–54, then made her Broadway debut in 1955 as Miss T. Muse in The Skin of Our Teeth. The same year, she had her off-Broadway debut in Thieves' Carnival, and her TV debut in The Great Bank Robbery on Omnibus (CBS). By the following year, she had won her first Obie Award for "Distinguished Performance (Actress)" in The Admirable Bashville (1955–56).

She has won two Tony Awards, for Best Supporting Actress (Dramatic): in 1974 for the original Broadway production of Neil Simon's The Good Doctor and in 1995 for the revival of The Heiress. She has been nominated for Tony Awards five other times, including for her roles in the original Broadway casts of Equus (1975) and On Golden Pond (1979), as well as for Lorraine Hansberry's The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window (1972), the musical Angel (1978), which was based on Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel, and the 2002 revival of Paul Osborn's Morning's at Seven.

She portrayed the title character in 1988's Pulitzer prize-winning drama Driving Miss Daisy, which was originated by Dana Ivey at Playwrights Horizons in New York. Sternhagen took over the role after the show moved to the John Houseman Theatre and played it for more than two years. Her off-Broadway awards include two nominations for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play in 1998, for a revival of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night (which starred her own son, Paul Carlin, as her character's son, Jamie Tyrone) for the Irish Repertory Theatre and in 2005, for the World War I drama Echoes of the War.

Sternhagen appeared as the Daughter in the original 1971 Broadway production of Edward Albee's All Over with Colleen Dewhurst and Jessica Tandy. In the summer of 2005, she starred in the Broadway production of Steel Magnolias along with Marsha Mason, Delta Burke, Christine Ebersole, Lily Rabe, and Rebecca Gayheart. She also starred in the 2005 revival of Edward Albee's Seascape, produced by Lincoln Center Theater at the Booth Theater on Broadway.

In 2013, Sternhagen was awarded the Obie Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Frances Sternhagen Photos

Frances Sternhagen STAGE CREDITS

Manhattan Theatre Club Production, 2013

Broadway Revival, 2005

Original Broadway Production, 2005

Lincoln Center Revival, 2002
Ida Bolton

Lavinia Penniman


Penelope Sycamore [Replacement]



Return Engagement [Broadway], 1979
Ethel Thayer

Original Broadway Production, 1979
Ethel Thayer

Original Broadway Production, 1978
Eliza Gant

Dora Strang



Unknown, 1972
Mavis Parodus Bryson

Queen Elizabeth (Understudy)

Mary Stuart (Understudy)

The Daughter (Standby)

The Mistress (Standby)

Widow Quin


Lavinia Chamberlayne

Mrs. Ashton Dilke (Maye)

Alice McAnany

Dee Jones

Miss T. Muse

Off-Off-Broadway Concert, 1982

[Regional (US)]
World Premiere, 1978
Eliza Gant

Frances Sternhagen Movies

[1967]The Tiger Makes Out Lady On Bus

[1971]The Hospital Mrs. Cushing

[1973]Two People Mrs. McCluskey

[1978]Fedora Miss Balfour

[1979]Starting Over Marva Potter

[1981]Outland Dr. Marian Lazarus

[1983]Romantic Comedy Blanche

[1983]Independence Day Carla Taylor

[1988]Bright Lights, Big City Clara

[1989]Communion Dr. Janet Duffy

[1989]See You in the Morning Neenie

[1990]Misery Virginia

[1990]Sibling Rivalry Rose Turner

[1991]Doc Hollywood Lillian

[1992]Raising Cain Dr. Waldheim

[1998]It All Came True Amy

[2001]Landfall Emily Thornton

[2001]The Rising Place Ruth Wilder

[2002]Highway Mrs. Murray

[2007]The Mist Irene Reppler

[2009]Julie & Julia Irma Rombauer

[2011]Dolphin Tale Gloria Forrest

[2014]And So It Goes Claire

Frances Sternhagen TV Shows

Cheers Esther Clavin

ER Millicent Carter

Law & Order Estelle Muller, Margaret Langdon

Sex and the City Bunny MacDougal

The Closer Willie Ray Johnson

Frances Sternhagen Awards and Nominations

Drama Desk Awards - 1998 - Outstanding Actress - Play

Frances Sternhagen , Long Day's Journey Into Night

Drama Desk Awards - 1979 - Outstanding Actress - Play

Frances Sternhagen, On Golden Pond

Tony Awards - 1972 - Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Frances Sternhagen, The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window

Obie Awards - 1965 - Performance

Frances SternhagenThe Room

Obie Awards - 1965 - Performance

Frances SternhagenA Slight Ache

Obie Awards - 1956 - Distinguished Performance (Actress)

Frances Sternhagen, The Admirable Bashville

Frances Sternhagen Videos

Frances Sternhagen News

Wake Up With BroadwayWorld November 30th, 2023

Rise and shine, BroadwayWorld! It is November 30, 2023 and it's time to catch up on all of the theatrical happenings you may have missed in the last 24 hours.

Tony-Winning Stage and Screen Actress Frances Sternhagen Dies at 93

BroadwayWorld is saddened to report that stage and screen actress Frances Sternhagen has died at age 93. Learn more about her life and career here.

Ethan Watermeier & Rachel Stern to Star in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Olney Theatre Center

Discover Olney Theatre Center's production of 'Fiddler on the Roof' with a fresh global perspective. This timeless musical explores themes of rising anti-Semitism, Russian aggression, refugee crises, and women's struggles against patriarchal authority. Don't miss this captivating show running from November 8 to December 31 in Olney, Maryland.

Theatre Arlington Presents ON GOLDEN POND

Theatre Arlington is thrilled to open the third installment in our 50th Anniversary season, On Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson. This classic play follows an elderly couple spending their summer at their lake house, where they reconnect with their estranged daughter. The story is a heartfelt meditation on the complications of aging, family, and forgiveness.

Ivoryton Playhouse to Present ON GOLDEN POND Starring James Naughton Beginning Next Month

Ivoryton Playhouse will present Tony Award-nominated Mia Dillon* and Tony award winner James Naughton* in ON GOLDEN POND by Ernest Thompson May 18 through June 11, 2023.

Sherman Players Will Open 2023 Season With ON GOLDEN POND

The Sherman Players will open their 2023 season with ON GOLDEN POND, written by Ernest Thompson and directed by Jane Farnol. The play will open on Friday, April 21 and run four weekends through May 13th at the Sherman Playhouse.

Olney Theatre Center To Announce Extension Of KINKY BOOTS At Tonight's First Preview Performance

Olney Theatre Center is extending the run of KINKY BOOTS (music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, book by Harvey Fierstein, directed by Jason Loewith) for one week of additional performances. The new closing date is March 26, 2023.

Madhuri Shekar's A NICE INDIAN BOY to Have Regional Premiere at Olney Theatre Center in March

A Nice Indian Boy by Madhuri Shekar and directed by Zi Alikhan will have its regional premiere in Olney Theatre Center’s Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab in a production featuring the work of one of the fastest rising and prolific American playwrights working.

Ron OJ Parson to Receive SDCF's Zelda Fichandler Award

Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, the not-for-profit foundation of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society announced the recipient and finalist for its annual Zelda Fichandler Award.

Wagner College To Host Ceremony And Staged Reading of 2022 Stanley Award-Winner, MARILYN, MOM, AND ME

Wagner College Theatre has announced that the winner of the 2022 Stanley Drama Award is Luke Yankee for his play Marilyn, Mom and Me.

Olney Theatre Center's Remount of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST to Open in November

Olney Theatre Center’s remount of its 2021 hit Disney’s Beauty and the Beast runs November 9, 2022 - January 1, 2023, on the Mainstage. Jade Jones and Evan Ruggiero, who attracted national attention last year for their stereotype-busting performances in the lead roles, also return to star as Belle and the Beast.

BROADWAY BLESSING Celebrates 25th Anniversary, September 19

Celebrate the 25th anniversary of Broadway Blessing. September 19, 7 p.m. St. Malachy's/The Actors' Chapel, 239 W. 49th St.

The Washington Stage Guild Opens 37th Season With THE GOOD DOCTOR by Neil Simon and Anton Chekhov

The Washington Stage Guild will kick off its 2022-2023 season, a “Season of Transitions,” with The Good Doctor by Neil Simon, adapted from the stories of Anton Chekhov, directed by founding member Laura Giannarelli.

Olney Theatre Launches New Community Partner Program With Sandy Spring Slave Museum

Olney Theatre Center announced a series of events as part of its new “Community Partners” program, planned in conjunction with its first partner, The Sandy Spring Slave Museum & African Art Gallery.

Alley Mills Joins the Ensemble of MORNING'S AT SEVEN

Television and stage veteran Alley Mills (“The Wonder Years”; Williamstown Theatre Festival, four seasons) will assume the role of Arry in the new production of Paul Osborn’s Morning’s At Seven, currently playing through January 9 at Theatre at St. Clement’s (423 W. 46th Street, NYC). 

Photos: Lindsay Crouse, Alma Cuervo, Judith Ivey & More Star in MORNING'S AT SEVEN Opening at Theatre at St. Clements

Morning’s At Seven, Paul Osborn’s treasured comedy classic, returns to New York this fall for the first time in 20 years featuring an all-star cast including Academy Award nominee and Obie Award winner Lindsay Crouse (The Homecoming), Obie Award winner Alma Cuervo (On Your Feet!, Uncommon Women and Others), and more!

BWW Interview: Director/Psychiatrist David W. Callander Full-Circling With A PERECT GANESH

Campus Cabaret’s artistic director and co-founder David W. Callander thought long and hard in considering Terrence McNally’s A PERFECT GANESH as their first production post-pandemic (opening October 29th at The Pico). David had the opportunity to see the very first production of A PERFECT GANESH back in 1993 at the Manhattan Theatre Club. “It's a play that stayed with me for many, many years.

Lindsay Crouse, Judith Ivey, Dan Lauria and More Star in MORNING'S AT SEVEN Beginning Performances October 20

Morning's At Seven, Paul Osborn's treasured comedy classic, returns to New York this fall for the first time in 20 years featuring an all-star cast.

Theater Stories: COME FROM AWAY, PASSION, JEKYLL & HYDE and More About the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre

This week's Theater Stories features the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre! Learn about the theatre's namesake, Gerald Schoenfeld; the theatre's best-known shows like The M-Fer With the Hat, the Glengarry Glen Ross revival, The Humans, Come From Away, and much more!

Photo Flashback: Cherry Jones Stars in THE HEIRESS in 1995

We're taking a trip down memory lane by continuing our Photo Flashback series, featuring vintage pics from the archives of BroadwayWorld photographer Walter McBride.Today, check out photos of stage and screen star Cherry Jones, leaving the Cort Theatre after a performance of The Heiress on March 1, 1995. 


Frances Sternhagen has appeared on Broadway in 24 shows.

Frances Sternhagen has not appeared in the West End

Frances Sternhagen has been nominated for several awards throughout her career. These include the Lifetime Achievement award at the Obie Awards, the Helen Hayes Tribute sponsored by Jaylee and Gilbert Mead at the Helen Hayes Awards, and the Edith Oliver Award for Sustained Excellence at The Lortels. She has also been nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play at the Tony Awards for "Morning's at Seven" and "The Heiress." Additionally, she received nominations for Outstanding Actress - Play at the Drama Desk Awards for "Long Day's Journey Into Night" and "On Golden Pond." Frances Sternhagen has also been recognized with the Distinguished Performance Award at the Drama League Awards and has received nominations for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play at the Tony Awards for "On Golden Pond." She was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical at the Tony Awards for "Angel" and Outstanding Featured Actress - Play at the Drama Desk Awards for "Equus." Other nominations include Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play at the Tony Awards for "The Good Doctor" and "The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window." Frances Sternhagen has also won Performance awards at the Obie Awards for "The Room" and "A Slight Ache," as well as the Distinguished Performance (Actress) award at the Obie Awards for "The Admirable Bashville."

Frances Sternhagen has won several awards throughout her career. These include the Lifetime Achievement (Obie Awards), The Helen Hayes Tribute (Helen Hayes Awards), the Edith Oliver Award for Sustained Excellence (The Lortels), the Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Tony Awards) for The Heiress, the Distinguished Performance Award (Drama League Awards), the Outstanding Featured Actress - Play (Drama Desk Awards) for Equus, the Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Tony Awards) for The Good Doctor, the Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Tony Awards) for The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, and the Performance (Obie Awards) for The Room and A Slight Ache. She also received the Distinguished Performance (Actress) (Obie Awards) for The Admirable Bashville.

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