The Info List - Phyllis Frelich

Phyllis Annetta Frelich (February 29, 1944 – April 10, 2014) was a Deaf American actress.


1 Early life 2 Career 3 Personal life 4 Death 5 Filmography

5.1 Film 5.2 Television

6 References 7 External links

Early life[edit] Frelich was born in Devil's Lake, North Dakota, to deaf parents Esther (née Dockter) and Phillip Frelich,[1] and was the eldest of nine siblings (all deaf). She attended North Dakota School for the Deaf, graduating in 1962, and then went on to study at Gallaudet College (now known as Gallaudet University), which is the only liberal arts university in the world for Deaf students. Career[edit] Frelich attended the North Dakota School for the Deaf and Gallaudet College. At the latter she completed a degree in library science, but also participated in theater. It was at Gallaudet that she was seen performing by David Hays, one of the founders of the National Theater of the Deaf, who asked her to join the theater company.[2] Frelich originated the leading female role in the Broadway production of Children of a Lesser God, written by Mark Medoff. Children won the Tony for Best Play; Frelich won the 1980 Best Actress Tony Award
Tony Award
and her co-star, John Rubinstein, won Best Actor Tony Award.[2] Marlee Matlin played Frelich's role in the film version, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Frelich later starred in other plays written by Medoff, including The Hands of Its Enemy and Prymate.[2] She was nominated for an Emmy Award
Emmy Award
for her performance in the 1985 television movie Love Is Never Silent. On the original air date of February 9, 1985, she appeared as a guest on Gimme A Break! – "The Earthquake" – Season 4, Episode 19. Frelich appeared in the recurring role of Sister Sarah on Santa Barbara.[3] Her last acting role was in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation in 2011.[2] Frelich was elected to the ninety-member Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Board in Hollywood, the highest policy-making body in the entertainment industry in 1991. She was the first deaf actress to be recognized in the United States.[4] In 1991, Frelich starred with Patrick Graybill in The Gin Game at the Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles drawing critical acclaim on their aesthetic art of American Sign Language. This performance was adapted from D. L. Coburn's play and was directed by Linda Bove, with Deaf West Theatre artistic director Ed Waterstreet.[4] Personal life[edit] Frelich was married to Robert Steinberg for many years, and they had two children (both of whom can hear and are fluent in American Sign Language). She performed the ASL interpretation of Jewel's rendition of the national anthem at Super Bowl XXXII.[citation needed] Death[edit] Frelich died on April 10, 2014 at her home in Temple City, California at the age of 70 on April 2014 from progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a rare degenerative neurological disease for which there are no treatments.[5] News of her death broke on the Deaf West Theater Facebook
page. The post honored Frelich for "paving so many roads for (the Deaf Community). A leading light of our community has been lost, and we mourn deeply. Our thoughts are with her family." Filmography[edit] Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes

1992 Judgement District Attorney

1997 Santa Fe Dr. Joyce Ginsberg

2002 Children on Their Birthdays Mrs. Bobbit


Year Title Role Notes

1981 Barney Miller Madeline Schaefer "Stormy Weather"

1985 Gimme a Break! Martha "Earthquake"

1985 Love Is Never Silent Janice Ryder TV film

1986 Spenser: For Hire Joan Cugell "When Silence Speaks"

1987 Santa Barbara Sister Sarah Recurring role

1989 Bridge to Silence Amanda Wingfield TV film

1991 Hunter Barbara Collins "Cries of Silence"

1992 L.A. Law Suzanne Bidwell "My Friend Flicker"

1998 Pacific Blue Helena "Broken Dreams"

1998–1999 ER Dr. Lisa Parks "Stuck on You" & "Nobody Doesn't Like Amanda Lee"

1999 Diagnosis: Murder Frances Lamar "Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of My Life"

2004 Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye Helga "The Holocaust Survivor"

2008 Sweet Nothing in My Ear Sally TV film

2011 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Mrs. Betty Grissom "The Two Mrs. Grissoms"


^ Obituary, inforum.com; accessed April 21, 2014. ^ a b c d Weber, Bruce (April 15, 2014). "Phyllis Frelich, Deaf Activist and Actress, Dies at 70". New York Times. Retrieved April 21, 2014.  ^ Santa Barbara (TV Series), imdb.com; accessed April 21, 2014. ^ a b Lang, Harry G.; Meath-Lang, Bonnie (1995). Deaf persons in the arts and sciences : a biographical dictionary (1. publ. ed.). Westport, Conn. [u.a.]: Greenwood Press. p. 130. ISBN 0-313-29170-5.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ Notice of death of Phyllis Frelich Archived 2014-04-14 at the Wayback Machine., silentgrapevine.com; accessed April 13, 2014.

Moore, Matthew S. (1996). Great Deaf Americans: the second edition. Rochester, NY: Deaf Life Press.  Davis, Anita Davis (1996). Discoveries: Significant Contributions of Deaf Women and Men. Hillsboro, Or: Butte Publications. 

External links[edit]

" Phyllis Frelich – Overview". MSN Movies. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-14.  Phyllis Frelich at the Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
Phyllis Frelich on IMDb

v t e

Tony Award
Tony Award
for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman
/ Helen Hayes
Helen Hayes
(1947) Judith Anderson
Judith Anderson
/ Katharine Cornell
Katharine Cornell
/ Jessica Tandy
Jessica Tandy
(1948) Martita Hunt (1949) Shirley Booth
Shirley Booth
(1950) Uta Hagen
Uta Hagen
(1951) Julie Harris (1952) Shirley Booth
Shirley Booth
(1953) Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn
(1954) Nancy Kelly
Nancy Kelly
(1955) Julie Harris (1956) Margaret Leighton
Margaret Leighton
(1957) Helen Hayes
Helen Hayes
(1958) Gertrude Berg
Gertrude Berg
(1959) Anne Bancroft
Anne Bancroft
(1960) Joan Plowright
Joan Plowright
(1961) Margaret Leighton
Margaret Leighton
(1962) Uta Hagen
Uta Hagen
(1963) Sandy Dennis (1964) Irene Worth
Irene Worth
(1965) Rosemary Harris
Rosemary Harris
(1966) Beryl Reid
Beryl Reid
(1967) Zoe Caldwell (1968) Julie Harris (1969) Tammy Grimes
Tammy Grimes
(1970) Maureen Stapleton
Maureen Stapleton
(1971) Sada Thompson
Sada Thompson
(1972) Julie Harris (1973) Colleen Dewhurst
Colleen Dewhurst
(1974) Ellen Burstyn
Ellen Burstyn
(1975) Irene Worth
Irene Worth
(1976) Julie Harris (1977) Jessica Tandy
Jessica Tandy
(1978) Constance Cummings
Constance Cummings
/ Carole Shelley
Carole Shelley
(1979) Phyllis Frelich (1980) Jane Lapotaire (1981) Zoe Caldwell (1982) Jessica Tandy
Jessica Tandy
(1983) Glenn Close
Glenn Close
(1984) Stockard Channing
Stockard Channing
(1985) Lily Tomlin
Lily Tomlin
(1986) Linda Lavin
Linda Lavin
(1987) Joan Allen
Joan Allen
(1988) Pauline Collins
Pauline Collins
(1989) Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith
(1990) Mercedes Ruehl
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(1991) Glenn Close
Glenn Close
(1992) Madeline Kahn
Madeline Kahn
(1993) Diana Rigg
Diana Rigg
(1994) Cherry Jones
Cherry Jones
(1995) Zoe Caldwell (1996) Janet McTeer
Janet McTeer
(1997) Marie Mullen (1998) Judi Dench
Judi Dench
(1999) Jennifer Ehle
Jennifer Ehle
(2000) Mary-Louise Parker
Mary-Louise Parker
(2001) Lindsay Duncan
Lindsay Duncan
(2002) Vanessa Redgrave
Vanessa Redgrave
(2003) Phylicia Rashad
Phylicia Rashad
(2004) Cherry Jones
Cherry Jones
(2005) Cynthia Nixon
Cynthia Nixon
(2006) Julie White
Julie White
(2007) Deanna Dunagan (2008) Marcia Gay Harden
Marcia Gay Harden
(2009) Viola Davis
Viola Davis
(2010) Frances McDormand
Frances McDormand
(2011) Nina Arianda (2012) Cicely Tyson
Cicely Tyson
(2013) Audra McDonald
Audra McDonald
(2014) Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren
(2015) Jessica Lange
Jessica Lange
(2016) Laurie Metcalf
Laurie Metcalf

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 1389683 LCC