Actress Shirley Knight dies at 83

Actress Shirley Knight died on Wednesday.

The 83-year old actress, who earned acclaim in a career that spanned movies, Broadway plays, and television, passed away from natural causes at her daughter’s home in Texas, the Associated Press reported.

“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,” her daughter, actress Kaitlin Hopkins, wrote in a Facebook post.

Knight’s sterling career

Born in rural Kansas, Knight moved to California after graduating college to study acting at the Pasadena Playhouse. When success came early, she fretted about losing herself, the AP said.

“So many actors, once they became famous, lose some beautiful inner thing, something they should try hard to keep,” she said. “They begin to think too highly of themselves and success.”

Knight was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for 1960’s “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs,” based on a play by William Inges — and her second movie.

She earned another nomination in that category in the Tennessee Williams-based “Sweet Bird of Youth” in 1962, in which she co-starred with Paul Newman.

Her career brought her to New York’s theater scene, where she would appear in Broadway plays including Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” (1964), as well as “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” (1966). Other movies from the time include “The Group” (1966) and “The Dutchman” (1966).

Versatile actor

Knight’s film career slowed down in the 1970s, and she moved to England for a few years with her second husband, British writer John Hopkins, and her daughters before coming back to America to continue acting.

She continued a successful career in movies, stage, and TV, winning a Tony Award for “Kennedy’s Children” (1975). Over a career spanning decades, she was nominated for a Tony for her role in “The Young Man from Atlanta” (1997), and she would also appear in movies like “As Good as It Gets” and “Endless Love.”

She also earned eight Emmy Awards for roles in various TV shows, like “Thirtysomething and “NYPD Blue.” In later years, she became known for playing Phyllis Van De Kamp on ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” which also won her an Emmy.

Knight is survived by her daughter Kaitlin, daughter Sophie Jacks, a screenwriter, and stepdaughter Justine.

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