Published On: February 20, 2020 08:20 AM NPT By: Associated Press

Actress Zoe Caldwell, Tony winner for ‘Medea,’ dies at 86

Actress Zoe Caldwell, Tony winner for ‘Medea,’ dies at 86



Zoe Caldwell, a four-time Tony Award winner who brought humanity to larger-than-life characters, whether it be the dotty schoolteacher Miss Jean Brodie, an aging opera star Maria Callas or the betrayed, murderous Medea, has died. She was 86.

Her son Charlie Whitehead said Caldwell died peacefully Sunday at her home in Pound Ridge, New York. Whitehead said her death was due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.

The Australian-born actress played in regional theaters around the English-speaking world before becoming the toast of Broadway in 1968, and winning her second Tony, for ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.’

Among her other characters were Cleopatra, Saint Joan, Mother Courage and authors Colette and Lillian Hellman. As she matured, she accepted only roles that offer a particular challenge. If she thought, “Oh, I can do that,” she didn’t want to do them, she said in 1986. Three of her four Tonys came in collaborations with her husband, Robert Whitehead, who was one of Broadway’s most prolific producers of serious drama.

She also lent her voice to the ‘Lilo & Stitch’ cartoons and appeared in the 2011 film ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.’ She spent much of her early career on the road. After touring in a wide variety of plays in Australia, she came to England and got to tackle a succession of Shakespearean roles.

She had two sons, Sam and Charlie. In addition to her two sons, she is survived by two grandchildren.


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