NEW YORK -
Anne Bancroft, who won the 1962 best actress Oscar as the teacher of a young Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker" but achieved greater fame as Mrs. Robinson, the seducer of her daughter's boyfriend in the 1967 movie "The Graduate," has died, a spokesman for her husband, producer Mel Brooks, said Tuesday. She was 73.
She died of cancer on Monday at Mount Sinai Hospital, spokesman John Barlow said.
Bancroft was awarded the Tony for creating the role on Broadway of poor-sighted Annie Sullivan, the teacher of Keller, who was born deaf and blind. She repeated her portrayal in the film version. Despite her Academy Award and four other nominations, "The Graduate" overshadowed her other achievements.
Dustin Hoffman delivered the famous line when he realized his girlfriend's mother was coming on to him in a hotel room: "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. ... Aren't you?"
Bancroft complained to a 2003 interviewer: "I am quite surprised that with all my work, and some of it is very, very good, that nobody talks about `The Miracle Worker.' We're talking about Mrs. Robinson. I understand the world.... I'm just a little dismayed that people aren't beyond it yet."
Her beginnings in Hollywood were unimpressive. She was signed by Twentieth Century-Fox in 1952 and given the glamour treatment. She had been acting in television as Anne Marno (her real name: Anna Maria Louise Italiano), but it sounded too ethnic for movies. The studio gave her a choice of names; she picked Bancroft "because it sounded dignified."
After a series of B pictures, she escaped to Broadway in 1958 and won her first Tony opposite
Henry Fonda in "Two for the Seesaw." The stage and movie versions of "The Miracle Worker" followed. Her other Academy nominations: "The Pumpkin Eater" (1964); "The Graduate" (1967); "The Turning Point" (1977); "Agnes of God" (1985).