Frances Sternhagen, Broadway Legend & Memorable Mom on ‘Cheers, ‘Sex & the City,’ Dies @ 93

November 29, 2023

Frances Sternhagen, an actor who blossomed in middle age — by playing women many years older than herself — died Monday, November 27, at her New Rochelle, New York, home. The New York Times and ExtraTV confirmed her death.

The mother of all mothers (Image via HBO)

She was 93.

Born January 13, 1930, in Washington, D.C., Sternhagen was acting from the time she was in school. Later an acting teacher, she made her professional stage debut in 1948, and debuted on Broadway in 1955's The Skin of Our Teeth.

Between 1948 and 2013, she appeared in dozens of productions, winning the Tony twice — for The Good Doctor (1973) and The Heiress (1995).

She was nominated for Tonys for The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window (1972), Equus (1974), Angel (1978), On Golden Pond (1979) and Morning's at Seven (2002).

Other prominent productions included A Doll's House (1967), Long Day's Journey Into Night (1998) and Steel Magnolias (2005).

She made more than two dozen features, among them Up the Down Staircase (1967), The Hospital (1971), Fedora (1978), Starting Over (1979), Outland (1981), Independence Day (1983), Bright Lights, Big City (1988), Misery (1990), Doc Hollywood (1991), Raising Cain (1992), Julie & Julia (2009) and her final film, And So It Goes (2014).

It was on TV that she found her widest audience, including many TV movies and memorable turns as controlling moms on Cheers (1986-1993), for which she was nominated for the Emmy twice, and on Sex and the City (2000-2002), for which she was nominated once.

Her longest TV gigs were on ER (1997-2003) and The Closer (2006-2012).

Sternhagen was preceded in death by her actor husband Thomas Carlin in 1991. She is survived by their six children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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