Eileen Herlie

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Eileen Herlie
2000 photograph
Born Eileen Isobel Herlihy
(1918-03-08)March 8, 1918
Glasgow, Scotland
Died October 8, 2008(2008-10-08) (aged 90)
New York, New York, US
Occupation Actress
Years active 1947–2008

Eileen Herlie (March 8, 1918[1] – October 8, 2008) was a Scottish-American actress.

Personal life

Eileen Herlie was born Eileen Isobel Herlihy to a Catholic father and a Protestant mother in Glasgow, Scotland, and was one of five children. Herlie was trained as a theatre actress. Among her West End London theatre successes were The Eagle Has Two Heads by Jean Cocteau. She was married and divorced from Witold Kuncewicz and Philip Barrett, but had no children.


Herlie's first big film break was being cast by Laurence Olivier in his 1948 film adaptation of William Shakespeare's Hamlet. She portrayed Hamlet's mother, Gertrude, though eleven years younger than Olivier, who portrayed her son.

Herlie played Gertrude again in the 1964 Broadway production starring Richard Burton [2] (and also in the 1964 film version of the production). Herlie's other film appearances included the role of Helen Carte in The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan (1953), and roles in Freud in 1962, and The Sea Gull (1968), the first major film version in English of Anton Chekhov's celebrated play.

In 1955, Herlie made her Broadway debut as Irene Molloy in The Matchmaker (which was later made into Hello, Dolly!). In 1960, she was nominated for a Tony Award as 'Best Actress in a Musical' for Take Me Along, an adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness!, in which she played opposite Jackie Gleason. In 1962, she co-starred with Ray Bolger in All American, where they sang "Once Upon a Time". Also on Broadway, she appeared in Photo Finish (1963) and Halfway Up the Tree (1967), both written by Peter Ustinov, and Crown Matrimonial, in which she played Queen Mary (1973).[2] She had previously played Queen Mary in the 1972 made-for-television film The Woman I Love, starring Richard Chamberlain as Edward VIII and Faye Dunaway as Wallis Simpson. When Crown Matrimonial was telecast on the Hallmark Hall of Fame in 1974, however, the role of Queen Mary went to film actress Greer Garson.

In 1976, Herlie made the move to television soap operas in the role of Myrtle Fargate on All My Children, playing the role for virtually the rest of her life. In the 1980s, Herlie was nominated for three consecutive Daytime Emmy Awards (1984, 1985 and 1986). She became close friends with fellow cast member Louis Edmonds, and spoke at his funeral in 2001. Until the late 1990s, Herlie was one of the few actresses to ever portray the same character on three different soaps. In 1993, she portrayed Myrtle on the All My Children sister-soap Loving. In December 2000, she began portraying Myrtle in crossover appearances on the soap opera One Life to Live, where a 'Who's the Daddy?' storyline was playing out on all four ABC soaps (All My Children, One Life to Live, General Hospital, and the now-cancelled Port Charles).


On October 8, 2008, Herlie died of complications from pneumonia.[3]

On December 19, 2008, All My Children dedicated the episode to Herlie and her character Myrtle by having the characters closest to Myrtle celebrate her life in a room named after her. Toward the end, Agnes Nixon, All My Children's creator, entered and blew a kiss toward Myrtle's portrait.

Award nominations

Daytime Emmy Award nominations

  • (1986) Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for All My Children
  • (1985) Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role in a Daytime Drama Series for All My Children
  • (1984) Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role in a Daytime Drama Series for All My Children

Tony Award nominations


  1. Coveney, Michael (2008-11-04). "Eileen Herlie: Obituary". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 23 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=67804
  3. "Eileen Herlie, Actress of TV and Stage, Dies at 90". nytimes.com. 2008-10-10. Retrieved 14 January 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links