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11 Oct 2008 08:57
Eileen Herlie, a stage and TV actor who appeared on All My Children for more than three decades as the motherly Myrtle Fargate, has died at 90.
Herlie died on October 8 of pneumonia, said Julie Hanan Carruthers, the ABC soap opera’s executive producer.
The actor joined the long-running show in 1976 to play Myrtle, who became the surrogate mother to many of the soap’s major characters, including Erica Kane, portrayed by Susan Lucci.
“I’m sure Eileen is lighting up the skies in heaven with her flaming red hair and lovely Scottish accent,” Lucci said. “The earth’s loss is heaven’s gain!”
Herlie’s last appearance on the programme was in June.
Before joining All My Children, Herlie was a regular on Broadway.
She made her debut in Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker in 1955, playing milliner Irene Molloy in the comedy, which starred Ruth Gordon as Dolly Gallagher Levi.
Musical-theatre buffs knew Herlie from her appearances in two shows: Take Me Along (1959), an adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness!, in which she played Jackie Gleason’s love interest, and All American (1962), in which Herlie co-starred with Ray Bolger.
In All American, she and Bolger sang the musical’s best-known song, Once Upon a Time, a Charles Strouse-Lee Adams tune later popularised by Tony Bennett.
Herlie was nominated for a Tony for her performance in Take Me Along.
Among Herlie’s other Broadway appearances were the Richard Burton production of Hamlet (1964), in which she played Queen Gertrude; two plays written by Peter Ustinov, Photo Finish (1963) and Halfway Up the Tree (1967); and Crown Matrimonial (1973), a drama about the events leading up to the abdication of King Edward VIII, in which she played Queen Mary and George Grizzard the love-stricken monarch.
Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Herlie worked for several years in the Scottish National Theatre and in the English theatre with Tyrone Guthrie. The Eagle Has Two Heads.
Her movie credits include two filmings of Hamlet, the Burton version and the 1948 Laurence Olivier production, in which she also played Gertrude. Her other movies include Freud (1962) with Montgomery Clift and Sidney Lumet’s The Sea Gull (1968) with Simone Signoret, James Mason and Vanessa Redgrave.
Herlie is survived by a brother, nieces and nephews.—Sapa-AP
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