Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Shirley Knight has died of natural causes at her daughter’s home in San Marcos, TX. She was 83.
Famed for her varied and long career, Knight had her breakthrough role in the Delbert Mann film adaptation of William Inge’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, receiving a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.
She was nominated in the same category for her portrayal of the lovestruck Heavenly Finley opposite Paul Newman and Geraldine Page in Richard Brooks’ 1962 adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth.
Knight went onto have an illustrious career in film, stage, and television, throughout the 1960s, stretching well into the 21stcentury; appearing in 1963’s The Outer Limits, 1970s’ Streets of San Francisco, the 1980s series Thirtysomething, the 1990s’ NYPD Blue and in the early 2000s’ as Phyllis Van De Kamp in Desperate Housewives, among many others.
She won an Emmy Award for 1995’s Indictment: The McMartin Trial, and for guest appearances on Thirtysomething and NYPD Blue, with a recent nomination in the guest category for Desperate Housewives.
Knight also won a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Play for Kennedy’s Children in 1976 and was nominated for Lead Actress in a Play for 1997’s The Young Man from Atlanta opposite Rip Torn.
She is survived by her two daughters, actress Kaitlin Hopkins and screenwriter Sophie Jacks as well as stepdaughter Justine.
In a memorial tribute addressed to Knight and posted on Facebook, her daughter Kaitlin wrote:
“Early this morning, April 22nd, you passed away, and your sweet soul left us for a better place. I was at your side, and you went peacefully. To me, you were ‘just mom,’ to some you were ‘Miss Knight,’ ‘Miss Shirley,’ ‘Mama Shirley’ (to my students), ‘Shirl the Girl’ (to your friends), and ‘Shirley Knight’ to your fans.”
A memorial service will be held in Los Angeles early next year. In lieu of flowers, contribution in her memory can be made to The Shirley Knight Memorial Fund at Texas State University, where an endowment in her name will be established.