Zoe Caldwell, 4-Time Tony Winner and 'Master Class' Actress, Dies at 86

Zoe Caldwell - Photofest - H 2020
Courtesy of Photofest

The Australian-born actress won Tony Awards for 'Slapstick Tragedy,' 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,' 'Medea' and 'Master Class.'

Zoe Caldwell, an esteemed stage, film and television actress who won four Tony Awards, including for her role as opera diva Maria Callas in Master Class, has died. She was 86.

Caldwell died Sunday from Parkinson's disease complications at her home in Pound Ridge, New York, her son Charlie Whitehead confirmed through a representative. 

The Australian-born actress first appeared on stage at age 9 as one of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan. She moved to London in 1959 to join the Royal Shakespeare Company, and began her American stage career as an original company member at the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis.

Caldwell made her Broadway debut with 1965's The Devils. This was soon followed by her first Tony Award-winning performance in Slapstick Tragedy (1966), with subsequent wins for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1968), Medea (1982) and Master Class (1996). She recreated her performance in Medea for television in 1983.

She also directed a number of productions for the New York stage, including Eileen Atkins' play Vita & Virginia, which starred Atkins and Vanessa Redgrave; and Israel Horovitz's Park Your Car in Harvard Yard, with Judith Ivey and Jason Robards.

Caldwell's film credits include Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo, Jonathan Glazer's Birth and Disney's Lilo & Stitch. Her telefilm appearances include adaptations of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Her most recent screen role was as the grandmother of Oskar (Thomas Horn) in 2011's Extremely Loud and Dangerously Close.

On Feb. 28, the lights on all Broadway theaters will be dimmed for one minute in Caldwell's memory.

Caldwell was married to theater producer and director Robert Whitehead from 1968 until his death in 2002. She is survived by two sons, Sam and Charlie Whitehead, and two young grandchildren, Ross and Ward Whitehead.