RIP Actress Shirley Knight, Winner of Three Emmys, Dead at 83


Shirley Knight

A winner of a Tony as well as three Emmys, the Kansan was memorable in ‘The Dark at the Top of the Stairs,’ ‘Sweet Bird of Youth,’ ‘Dutchman’ and ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’

Shirley Knight, the daring actress and darling of Tennessee Williams who received Oscar nominations for her work in her third and fourth films, The Dark at the Top of the Stairs and Sweet Bird of Youth, has died. She was 83.

Knight died Wednesday of natural causes at the home of her daughter, actress Kaitlin Hopkins, in San Marcos, Texas.

Knight was known for taking bold chances during her career — as when she portrayed a promiscuous woman who confronts a young black male (Al Freeman Jr.) on the New York subway in the incendiary 1966 independent film Dutchman (1966) or when she played a pregnant Long Island housewife who gets involved with an ex-football player (James Caan) in The Rain People (1969), a film Francis Ford Coppola wrote just for her.

The Kansas native received a Tony Award in 1976 for her turn as an alcoholic actress who channels Marilyn Monroe in Kennedy’s Children, and she was nominated again in 1997 for portraying the sorrowful wife of a Houston businessman (Rip Torn) in Horton Foote’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Young Man From Atlanta.

In Delbert Mann’s The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1960) — an adaptation of another Pulitzer Prize-winning play, this one written by Kansan William Inge and directed on Broadway by Elia Kazan — Knight made her first big splash as Reenie, the conflicted teenage daughter of a laid-off salesman (Robert Preston) and his wife (Dorothy McGuire) in 1920s Oklahoma.

Read the rest of this detailed obit HERE.


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