Name at birth: Anna Maria Louise Italiano
Tony, Emmy and Oscar winner Anne Bancroft is best known for her portrayal of Mrs. Robinson, the older woman who seduces young Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) in the film The Graduate (1967). A performer from an early age, she studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Actors Studio in New York and landed her first professional gig on television in 1950. In 1952 she headed to Hollywood as a contract player, but returned to New York after a disappointing string of roles in low-budget movies. In 1958 she played opposite Henry Fonda in Two for the Seesaw and won her first Tony Award. The next year she won another Tony for her portrayal of Helen Keller's teacher, Annie Sullivan, in the play The Miracle Worker. She returned to Hollywood for the film version of the play (1962) and won an Oscar for Best Actress. After that Bancroft was nominated for an Oscar four more times, for The Pumpkin Eater (1965), The Graduate, The Turning Point (1977, with Shirley MacLaine) and Agnes of God (1985, with Jane Fonda). She is also a multiple Emmy nominee, winning the award in 1970 (Annie, the Women in the Life of a Man) and again in 1999 (Deep in My Heart). Elegant and intelligent, Bancroft was frequently cast in roles requiring gravitas and sophistication, including David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980, with Anthony Hopkins), 84 Charing Cross Road (1987, also with Hopkins) and G.I. Jane (1997, with Demi Moore).