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In Memoriam: Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Frances Sternhagen, Icon of Stage and Screen

Frances Sternhagen
Frances Sternhagen (Credits: Fresherslive)

Frances Sternhagen, a seasoned actress renowned for her roles in films such as “Misery” and as Bunny in the HBO series “Sex and the City,” has passed away at the age of 93, according to a statement from her representative to CNN on Wednesday.

The representative, Sarah Fargo, shared a statement from Sternhagen’s family, expressing, “It is with great sadness that we share the news that our dear mother, actress Frances Sternhagen, died peacefully of natural causes in New Rochelle, NY, on November 27th, 2023. She is survived by her 6 children, 9 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren. A celebration of her remarkable career and life is planned for mid-January, near her 94th birthday. We continue to be inspired by her love and life.”

Sternhagen’s son, John Carlin, paid tribute to his mother on Instagram, describing her as “beloved by many” and expressing gratitude for being able to call her his mom, friend, and dance partner.

Frances Sternhagen

Frances Sternhagen (Credits: Montana Standard)

Having enjoyed a career spanning nearly seven decades, Sternhagen made notable contributions to both stage and screen. Apart from her role in “Misery,” she also appeared in other Stephen King adaptations, including the 2007 film “The Mist.”

While Sternhagen left her mark on the big screen through appearances in films like “Outland,” “Raising Cain,” and “Julie & Julia,” her most enduring legacy is perhaps on television. Her portrayal of Bunny MacDougal in “Sex and the City” showcased her talent, earning her a Primetime Emmy Award nomination. This marked her third Emmy nomination, following two in the early 1990s for her role as Cliff Clavin’s mother Esther on “Cheers.”

Beyond her screen accomplishments, Sternhagen excelled on stage. Starting as a teacher at the Milton Academy in Massachusetts, she made her Broadway debut in 1955. Her theatrical journey included acclaimed performances in plays such as Neil Simon’s “The Good Doctor,” “Equus,” “On Golden Pond,” and “Angel.” With seven Tony Award nominations and three wins, Sternhagen’s contributions to the stage were celebrated.

Her son, Carlin, shared a poignant reflection on their recent moments together, emphasizing her support for his writing and enjoyment of his singing. He concluded with a heartfelt farewell, saying, “Fly on, Frannie. The curtain goes down on a life so richly, passionately, humbly, and generously lived.”

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