June 08, 2005
RIP, Anne Bancroft

Actress Anne Bancroft, known best for her iconic role as Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate", has died at the age of 73.

Not only did the actress seduce Broadway, movie and TV audiences in roles ranging from the aging ballerina in 1977's The Turning Point to Israeli prime minister Golda Meir on stage in 1977's Golda.

But the five-time Oscar nominee, who won a best-actress Academy Award for re-creating her stage performance as Helen Keller's teacher Annie Sullivan in 1962's The Miracle Worker, also managed to hang on to her handful of a husband, funnyman filmmaker Mel Brooks, for more than 40 years.

The couple, who met on Perry Como's TV show in 1961, were one of Hollywood's oddest yet most devoted pairings. He was the Borscht Belt spoofer who took comedy to delightful new lows in the bawdy Western satire Blazing Saddles. She was the Bronx-born daughter of Italian parents who won two Tonys (for 1958's Two for the Seesaw and 1960's The Miracle Worker).

"He makes me laugh a lot," she said, explaining their attraction to the New York Daily News in 2000. "I get excited when I hear his key in the door. It's like, 'Ooh! The party's going to start.' "

Bancroft was a great actress who will be long remembered. What really caught my eye in this obituary was this bit at the end:

Brooks, who is working on the film version of his hit Broadway musical version of The Producers a project that was her idea so revered his spouse that he always referred to her by both her names.

Making a movie out of "The Producers"! Who'd have ever thought of that?

Anyway. Here's Roger Ebert's eulogy. Rest in peace, Anne Bancroft.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 08, 2005 to TV and movies | TrackBack

Kudos. Great eulogy for a great lady.

BTW, what cameo spot did she do in Blazing Saddles? I don't remember her spot?

Posted by: ttyler5 on June 9, 2005 2:54 AM

It's interesting that Anne Bancroft won the Academy Award for portraying Annie Sullivan in "The Miracle Worker", yet she is better known for playing on most younger men's fantasies as a seductress in "The Graduate".

I compare her to Rita Moreno in that while both are/were accomplisted actresses in film and TV, their first love is/was live theather.

"Making a movie out of "The Producers"! Who'd have ever thought of that?"

Having seen both the original movie and the Broadway musical, I can assure you that the new movie will not be a simple remake of the first one. The first act of the musical was absolutely side-splitting. The second act is a little more serious (if you consider a dancing pretzel and sausage as part of a send-up of Nazi Germany and Bavaria to be serious), but is funny nonetheless.
The only problem I can see is this will be one of those "complete hit or complete flop" films due to the expectations taken from the play.

Posted by: William Hughes on June 9, 2005 7:22 AM

You do realize, Charles, that Brooks was the man behind the original as well? That he wrote and directed it?

Posted by: Jeff G. on June 9, 2005 9:03 AM

Anne is a member of the church congregation. I believe in the beginning of the movie. It's uncredited.

Posted by: Jeff G. on June 9, 2005 9:23 AM

It's amazing that she was only 36 to Hoffman's 30 in "The Graduate". Boy howdy, I thought she was hot back then . . . and I still think so. Farewell.

Posted by: cacafuego on June 9, 2005 9:49 AM