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Eileen Heckart, Award Winner – MovieActors.com

Butterflies Are Free

(Comedy/Drama - PG)

Eileen Heckart won her Supporting Oscar for playing the controlling mother of a blind son who wants to make it alone.

















About Eileen Heckart (1919 – 2001)

Eileen Heckart was born Anna Eileen Stark in Columbus, Ohio, the daughter of Esther and Leo. She grew up in Columbus. It is safe to say that Eileen had a tough childhood.

Her parents separated when she was two. Her mother, who was an alcoholic, married five times. Her grandmother took her in, from time to time but was a stern woman and didn't spare the rod with her.

None of this beat Eileen down, but developed her inner strength. Somone along the way was a positive force in her life, even in these hard situations she lived with. That person was her mother's step-father, John Heckart, who adopted her.

In her teen years, Eileen found escape in the imaginary world of the cinema. She knew what she wanted to do, and had the strength of character to go after what she wanted.

Despite Eileen's rocky childhood, she graduated from Ohio State with a degree in drama. That same year she graduated, she married the love of her life, John Harrison Yankee Jr. in JUne of 1942. They had three sons together. Despite her mother's marital track record, none of it rubbed off on Eileen. Eileen picked a husband well, and they were married until John died in 1997.

Eileen Heckart moved to New York where she worked extensively on the stage.  She was called upon to play the role of Hortense Daigle, in the 1957 film adaptation of THE BAD SEED, the story of a young girl who is a serial killer.  Heckart played the mother of a murdered boy, whose drunken, hysterical insinuations send the plot spinning into mayhem. Heckart was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress for her performance.
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Eileen Heckart received a star for motion pictures on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960, at 6140 Hollywood Blvd.
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Eileen continued acting on the stage, with forays into television.  She explained, "You do television to make money so you can afford to act in the theater."  Nevertheless, Heckart was nominated 5 times for an Emmy, for her outstanding performances as Mary's aunt in MARY TYLER MOORE, and for guest appearances as Eleanor Roosevelt in BACKSTAIRS AT THE WHITE HOUSE, F.D.R. THE LAST YEAR, plus THE COSBY SHOW.  Finally Eileen Heckart won an Emmy in 1994, as a Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, for LOVE & WAR, a 1992 production. 

Eileen Heckart was nominated for three Tonys.  Finally she won a Special Tony Award in 2000 for "Excellence in Theater." 

Marlene Dietrich commented on Heckart's career:  "If she were acting in Europe, she'd be queen of the boards. The barbarism of Hollywood typecasting deprives the world of her true talents."

In 1972, Eileen Heckart played the overly protective mother of a blind adult child who gets his own apartment and strikes up a relationship with the girl next door, played by Goldie Hawn, in BUTTERFLIES ARE FREE.  Heckart won an Oscar for her performance.

In 1986, Eileen Heckart played the wife of a military buddy of the main character, a tough Marine Sargent, played by Clint Eastwood, in the movie HEARTBREAK RIDGE, which Eastwood also directed.

Eileen Heckart passed away on December 31st, 2001. from lung cancer.

Eileen Heckart's notable movie credits include...

BUS STOP (1956)
MIRACLE IN THE RAIN (1956)
THE BAD SEED (1957)
UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE (1967)
THE HIDING PLACE (1975)
BURNT OFFERINGS (1967)
HEARTBREAK RIDGE (1986)
THE FIRST WIVES CLUB (1996)

Eileen Heckart's television credits include...

SUNSHINE CHRISTMAS  (1977)
SUDDENLY LOVE (1978)
WHITE MAMA (1980)
FDR: THE LAST YEAR (TV Movie) (1980)
STUCK WITH EACH OTHER (TV Movie) (1989)
DESIGNING WOMEN (Guest Star)
ONE LIFE TO LIVE (TV SERIES '68-92)
TRIUMPH OVER DISASTER: THE HURRICANE ANDREW STORY (1993)
THE FIVE MRS. BUCHANANS (THE TV SERIES 1994-1995)
MURDER ONE (TV series) (1996)
ANNIE MCGUIRE (TV series) (1988-1989)

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Eileen Heckart in THE FIRST WIVES CLUB (1996).

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Eileen Heckart in BURNT OFFERINGS (1976).