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November 08, 2010

Jill Clayburgh, Emmy and Oscar Nominee, Passes at 66

In addition to her influential film work, Clayburgh worked extensively in television for more than 40 years.

Jill Clayburgh, an actress known for playing strong, independent women in both feature films and television, died November 5, 2010, at her home in Lakeville, Connecticut. She was 66.

According to news reports and quotes attributed to her husband, playwright David Rabe, Clayburgh had lived with chronic leukemia for 21 years.

Clayburgh is best remembered for a series of films made in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including An Unmarried Woman and Starting Over, in which she played strong, independent, unapologetically flawed women who did not need a man to define them.

Her other films of note include Semi-Tough, It’s My Turn, First Monday in October, Luna and I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can.

Clayburgh was born in New York City on April 30, 1944. Her father was a successful industrial textile salesman. She earned a bachelor’s degree in theater from Sarah Lawrence College in 1966.

She began performing in the theater in the late 1960s. Her first Broadway appearance came in 1968 with the short-lived production The Sudden & Accidental Re-Education of Horse Johnson. She later had roles in the musicals The Rothschilds and Pippin, as well as a revival of Noël Coward’s Design for Living.

Clayburgh also worked extensively in television, from episodic roles to the daytime drama Search for Tomorrow. Her TV credits included a recurring role on Ally McBeal as Calista Flockhart’s mother. She also recurred on The Practice and was a regular cast member of the series Everything’s Relative, Leap of Faith and Dirty Sexy Money. Her guest appearances included episodes of Frasier, Law & Order, The Practice and many others.

Her Emmy nominations came in 1975, for the made-for-television movie Hustling, and in 2003, for a guest role on the series Nip/Tuck.

She received her Oscar nominations for the 1978 release An Unmarried Woman and the 1979 release Starting Over.

Her last Broadway appearance came in a 2006 revival of Barefoot in the Park.

Survivors include Rabe, whom she married in 1978; a daughter, the actress Lily Rabe; a son, Michael; a stepson, Jason; and a brother, James.

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