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- Anna Marie Louise Italiano
- The Bronx New York US
- United States
- Laughing With Her Husband
- Legs Saucy Italiana
- Removes An Earring Before Answering The Phone
Anne Bancroft Introduction
"And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know, God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson."
Anne Bancroft Early Life
Anne Bancroft was born Anna Maria Louisa Italiano on September 17, 1931 in The Bronx, New York to Michael (a patternmaker) and Mildred (telephone operator) Italiano. She has two sisters Joanne (older) and Phyllis (younger).
Mrs. Bancroft has an early love of performing and began to take acting and dancing lessons at the age of four. After High School, she planned on becoming a lab technician, but her mother convinced her to attend the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts instead.
Anne Bancroft Beginnings
Her professional career in acting came in 1951 at the age of twenty, when she began to appear in episodes of television drama series such as Suspense, Danger, The Adventures of Ellery Quinn and Lights Out. It was not until the following year that she went to Hollywood and made it to the big screen in her movie debut as Lyn Lesly in Don’t Bother to Knock. This began a career in movies that would span the next 50 fifty years. During the early and mid-fifties, she began to take on more movie roles, proving her acting skills and versatility to the moviegoers and the movie studios. However, she was a contract baby, and the studio heads at 20th Century Fox dictated her professional career. In fact, it was the studios that made her change her name to Anne Bancroft. They gave her a book of names and told her to change it because her real name it sounded too ethnic.
After she fulfilled her contract with the movie studio, she turned her attention to the light of Broadway. In 1958 she starred in the play Two for the Seesaw and won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play in addition, she also won the 1958 Theater World Award. She followed this up by receiving her second Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for The Miracle Worker, as well as a New York Drama Critics Award for this role. It was during these early years in Hollywood that she tried to find her soul mate. She married builder/construction worker Martin A. May in July 1953, but the marriage only lasted until early (February) 1957.
She left New York City once again and returned to Hollywood under her own terms. After perfecting the role of Annie Sullivan on Broadway in The Miracle Worker, she was now starring in a film adaptation of the same name playing opposite Patty Duke in the role of Helen Keller. After perfecting this role over the past few years, she was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actress. [Note: She was not able to attend the awards ceremony because she was appearing on Broadway at the time (Mother Courage and Her Children) and was given her a week later in the theater she was performing before the show. Joan Crawford accepted the award in her absence]. She was also awarded the BAFTA Film Award for Best Foreign Actress and the NBR Award for Best Actress. In addition, she was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress – Drama.
It did not take much time for this dynamic actress to be recognized again by the movie community and was nominated for another Academy Award for her role in the 1964 film The Pumpkin Eater. She also won the Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award, the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama, the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress for this role. 1964 was also a big year for her personal life. She married then comedy writer and comedian Mel Brooks in August of that year. The two lovers got married at City Hall. [Note: They met at a talk show a year earlier and Mr. Brooks followed her into a restaurant to “accidentally” bump into her].
Anne Bancroft Stardom
Anne Bancroft’s truly memorable role came in 1967 as Mrs. Robinson in Mike Nichols’ The Graduate. Her role as the older woman seductress who bewilders a young looking Dustin Hoffman has become a movie classic. The role also led to another Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Her other award nominations for this role include the BAFTA Film Award for Best Actress. She also won some awards for her role, including the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress - Musical/Comedy. [Note: Although Bancroft played a much older female, in reality she was only six years older than the 30 year old Hoffman].
Besides her movie career, she returned briefly to the stage in 1967 to appear in a short run of Little Foxes at Lincoln Center, and then returned to Lincoln Center a year later to appear in A Cry of Players.
After breaking into “show business” in the early 1950’s, she returned to her beginning on the small screen and starred in the variety show, Annie, the Women in the Life of a Man and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety or Musical Program.
In 1972, Mel and Anne had their only child, a son, Maximillian (Max) Brooks who became comedy writer. He is most well known for his writing on Saturday Night Live. During the 1970’s spent time with her new son and husband, but also managed to perform on Broadway, as well as appear in a few movies for the silver screen and television. Her movie highlights of this decade include Young Winston (1972 – nominated for NAFTA Film Award for Best Actress) and The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975 – nominated for BAFTA Film Award for Best Actress). Her greatest roles of the decade, was her Oscar nominated role in 1977 as Emma Jacklin in The Turning Point (nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, BAFTA Film Award for Best Actress, Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress – Drama and won the NPR Award for Best Actress).
In 1977, she returned to Broadway as Golda Meir in the play Golda and received a Tony nomination for her role. After this run on Broadway, she only returned one for two weeks in 1981’s Duet for One. [Note: She was set to star in the play Occupant in 2002, but pneumonia forced her to cancel.
In 1980 she made her Director/Screenwriter debut for the dark comedy movie Fatso starring Dom DeLuise. She also continued acting, although her performances were critically acclaimed, some of the movies were not. The highlights of her movie career in the 1980’s include: To Be or Not to Be (1983 – nominated, Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical); Garbo Talks (1984 – nominated, Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical); the Oscar nominated role in Agnes of God (1985 – nominations for Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role and the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama); 84 Charing Cross Road (1987 – won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress); and ‘Night Mother (1986 – nominated, Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama).
Anne Bancroft Later Life
By the 1990s, Anne Bancroft began to take on smaller roles to spend more time with her family, and also because she felt that there were not many good scripts to be had. However, she turned more of her focus away from the big screen and towards television. The highlights 1990’s and the first half of the following decade include a few Emmy nominations, including winning the award in 1999. The high points on television from 1990 through 2005 include: Broadway Bound (1992 – nominated, Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Special); Mrs. Cage (1992 – Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special); Oldest Living Confederate Widow (1994 – nominated, Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Special); Homecoming (1996 – nominated, Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries); Deep In My Heart (won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie); Haven (2001 – nominated, Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie); The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (nominations for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, the Golden Sattelite Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television, and the Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries). Her last project was adding her voice for the character of Contessa in the movie Delgado to be released in 2005.
She also received the American Comedy Awards Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996 and has also been awarded a Star on the Hollywood Blvd. Walk of Fame.
Anne Bancroft, at the age of 73, passed away on June 6, 2005 at the Mount Sainai Medical Center in New York City after a struggle with uterine cancer. She will always be remembered.