January 15, 2004
Uta Hagen, the actress whose brutal, braying performance of Martha in the original production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? galvanized Broadway in the 1960s, has died. She was 84. Hagen died Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2004, at her Manhattan home. She had been in poor health since suffering a stroke in 2001. The actress was a versatile performer, at home not only in Shakespeare, Chekhov and Shaw, but in plays by Albee, Clifford Odets and Tennessee Williams. Hagen also was a dedicated acting teacher, writing a well-regarded acting textbook and operating the HB Studio for decades with her husband, Herbert Berghof. But it was as Martha in Albee's corrosive 1962 tale of a combative marriage that she gained her biggest Broadway success. Her portrayal, opposite Arthur Hill as George, was fierce and uncompromising. The play won five Tony Awards, including acting prizes for both Hagen and Hill.