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Uta Hagen

Performer, Writer
( b. Jun 12, 1919 Gottingen, GERMANY - d. Jan 14, 2004 New York, New York, USA ) Female
Also known as: Uta Berghof
Relations: Wife of José Ferrer (1938 - 1948) divorced
Wife of Herbert Berghof (1957 - 1990) his death

Over seven decades, Uta Hagen acted in Shakespeare, Chekhov and Shaw, as well as in plays by Mr. Albee and Tennessee Williams. With her husband Herbert Berghof (who died in 1990), she ran the HB Studios in Manhattan and was celebrated not only as an actress but also as a teacher of acting and author of books on the subject. She continued to teach after a stroke and until several months before her death. Occasionally she appeared in films and on television, but principally her life was onstage, and it was there that she was able to incarnate the widest diversity of characters.

Ms. Hagen made her professional debut in 1937 playing Ophelia to Eva Le Gallienne's Hamlet, and was acclaimed for her Nina (in The Seagull), Desdemona (opposite Paul Robeson's Othello), Shaw's St. Joan, Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire and as the title character in The Country Girl by Clifford Odets. Mr. Albee's Martha became her signature role.

She studied briefly at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and at the University of Wisconsin, and left college -- and left home -- to pursue an acting career.

In 1937, Le Gallienne was preparing to play Hamlet in a production in Dennis, Mass., and was having difficulty finding an Ophelia. Ms. Hagen sent a letter requesting an audition. As Le Gallienne recalled in her autobiography, her impulse was to refuse, but something in the letter encouraged her to invite the young actress to audition.

She then joined Le Gallienne's theater company, which was preparing a production of The Seagull. The director was playing the role of Nina, with Ms. Hagen as her understudy. That production never came to fruition, but soon Ms. Hagen heard that Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne were about to do it on Broadway. Ms. Hagen's Broadway debut came the next year as Nina in Lunt and Fontanne's Seagull.

In 1948, she led the national company of A Streetcar Named Desire and then followed Jessica Tandy in the role on Broadway. In 1950 she played the title role in The Country Girl. For that performance, she won her first Tony.

The next year, she finally played St. Joan, in Margaret Webster's production. Always outspoken about politics and human rights, Ms. Hagen was blacklisted in the 1950's, and, she said, ''that fact kept me pure.'' Unable to work in the movies or on television or to tour plays through the United States, she continued to focus her attentions on New York theater. She was a member of the Phoenix Theater, but her acting became more sporadic.

Then, in 1962, the call came to return to the stage. The producer Richard Barr and his partners were bringing a new play by a new playwright to Broadway, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee, and they were searching for an actress to play the central role. Ms. Hagen read the play between classes and it so gripped her that she taught her final class, she said, ''in a daze.'' Immediately she agreed to do it, and when she met the playwright she told him the play was ''like a great modern Bosch canvas.''

In the play a faculty couple, George and Martha (Arthur Hill and Ms. Hagen) engage in a long night of mutual abuse -- and revelation. Ms. Hagen's performance galvanized the play. Virginia Woolf was a turning point for the actress and for Mr. Albee. The play received five Tonys, including awards for both Ms. Hagen and Mr. Hill. In 1964, they both did the play in London.

In the years that followed, Ms. Hagen occasionally ventured back into theater. In 1968, she played Mme. Ranevskaya in Le Gallienne's A.P.A. Cherry Orchard. Later she did Peter Hacks's Charlotte (in which she played Goethe's mistress), Shaw's You Never Can Tell and Mrs. Warren's Profession, Nicholas Wright's Mrs. Klein and, in 1998, Donald Margulies's Collected Stories.

Source: New York Times obituary

ProductionsDate of Productions
You Never Can Tell
[Play, Comedy, Revival]
  • Starring: Uta Hagen [Mrs. Clandon]
Oct 09, 1986 - Jan 25, 1987
[Play, Monologue, Original]
  • Starring: Uta Hagen [Charlotte von Stein]
  • Translated and adapted by Uta Berghof
Feb 27, 1980 - Mar 01, 1980
The Cherry Orchard
[Play, Comedy, Revival]
  • Performer: Uta Hagen [Ranevskaya, Lyubov Andreevna]
Mar 19, 1968 - Jun 22, 1968
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
[Play, Drama, Original]
  • Starring: Uta Hagen [Martha]
  • Performer: Uta Hagen
      Martha - Replacement (Sep 02, 1963 - ?)
Oct 13, 1962 - May 16, 1964
The Good Woman of Setzuan
[Play, Original]
  • Performer: Uta Hagen [Shen Te]
Dec 18, 1956 - Jan 06, 1957
A Month in the Country
[Play, Comedy, Revival]
  • Performer: Uta Hagen [Natalia Petrovna]
Apr 03, 1956 - May 13, 1956
Island of Goats
[Play, Drama, Original]
  • Performer: Uta Hagen [Agata]
Oct 04, 1955 - Oct 08, 1955
The Magic and The Loss
[Play, Original]
  • Starring: Uta Hagen [Grace Wilson]
Apr 09, 1954 - May 01, 1954
In Any Language
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Starring: Uta Hagen [Hannah King]
Oct 07, 1952 - Nov 15, 1952
[Play, Comedy, Play with music, Revival]
  • Performer: Uta Hagen [Grand Duchess Tatiana Petrovna]
May 14, 1952 - May 25, 1952
Saint Joan
[Play, Drama, Revival]
  • Starring: Uta Hagen [Joan]
Oct 04, 1951 - Feb 02, 1952
The Country Girl
[Play, Original]
  • Starring: Uta Hagen [Georgie Elgin]
Nov 10, 1950 - Jun 02, 1951
A Streetcar Named Desire
[Play, Drama, Revival]
  • Performer: Uta Hagen [Blanche Du Bois]
May 23, 1950 - Closing date unknown
Angel Street
[Play, Thriller, Revival]
  • Performer: Uta Hagen [Mrs. Manningham]
Jan 22, 1948 - Feb 01, 1948
A Streetcar Named Desire
[Play, Drama, Original]
  • Performer: Uta Hagen
      Blanche Du Bois - Replacement
Dec 03, 1947 - Dec 17, 1949
The Whole World Over
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Performer: Uta Hagen [Olya Vorontsov]
Mar 27, 1947 - Jun 21, 1947
[Play, Drama, Tragedy, Revival]
  • Performer: Uta Hagen [Desdemona]
May 22, 1945 - Jun 10, 1945
[Play, Drama, Tragedy, Revival]
  • Also Starring: Uta Hagen [Desdemona]
Oct 19, 1943 - Jul 01, 1944
[Play, Farce, Original]
  • Performer: Uta Hagen [Vickie Roberts]
Sep 22, 1942 - Oct 31, 1942
Key Largo
[Play, Drama, Original]
  • Performer: Uta Hagen [Alegre D'Alcala]
Nov 27, 1939 - Feb 24, 1940
The Happiest Days
[Play, Drama, Original]
  • Performer: Uta Hagen [Edith]
Apr 11, 1939 - Apr 1939
The Seagull
[Play, Drama, Comedy, Revival]
  • Performer: Uta Hagen [Nina]
Mar 28, 1938 - May 1938
1999 Tony Award® Special Lifetime Achievement Tony Award
winner Uta Hagen [recipient]
1996 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Play
Uta Hagen (for "Mrs. Klein") [nominee]
1963 Tony Award® Best Actress in a Play
winner Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? [winner]
Starring: Uta Hagen
1951 Tony Award® Best Actress in a Play
winner The Country Girl [winner]
Starring: Uta Hagen
Find out where Uta Hagen and are credited together