Anne Bancroft, née Anna Italiano, was an actress, writer, director, and singer of the American stage and screen. Born September 17, 1931, to Michael and Mildred (née Carmela) Italiano, Anne was the second of three daughters–JoAnne, known to friends and family as Joan (b. 1928), Anne (b. 1931), and Phyllis (b.1936)–born to the DiNapoli and Italiano family. Raised in the St. Raymond neighborhood of the Bronx, New York, Anne enjoyed a fruitful young acting career, starring in stage productions at Christopher Columbus High School and radio shows with friends. These juvenile experiences were formative in her decision to pursue acting seriously, as she attended the prestigious Academy of Dramatic Arts after graduating high school at the age of sixteen. Finding success first in television under the name Anne Marno, Anne appeared in Studio One, Lux Video Theatre, and Kraft Television Theatre productions for a little over a year after graduating from the Academy in 1950. Catching the eye of Twentieth Century-Fox in a screen test for a friend, Anne was signed under a contract to the studio in late 1951; taking a name from a list given to her by Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck, Anne Marno became professionally known as Anne Bancroft. Almost six years and fifteen films later, Anne moved back to New York and pursued the stage full-time in early 1957. Her breakout role as Gittel Mosca in Two for the Seesaw earned her a Tony award and fossilized her status as one of the most respected young actresses of the Broadway stage. Following the plaudits of Seesaw, Anne’s turn as teacher Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker earned her a second Tony award and an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1963 for her reprisal of the role in 1962’s film adaptation.
Throughout her second career on film, Anne continued to appear in stage productions, both on Broadway and off, and on television. An AADA and HB Studio alumni, longstanding member of the Actors Studio in New York, and of the second graduating class from the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women, Anne Bancroft was an established actress–of natural intensity with a singular comedic pitch–singer, and writer/director (Fatso, 1980). Earning four more Academy Award nominations, two Emmys (of seven total nominations), and another Tony Award nomination, Anne Bancroft’s career spanned over five decades across three mediums. Married to actor, writer, director, producer, and all-around wonderful human being Mel Brooks from 1964 to her passing on June 6, 2005, Anne had one child with Brooks (author Maximilian Brooks, b. 1972) and leaves a lasting legacy through her extant family as well as through her professional achievements. Anne Bancroft was a woman who wore many hats, who continues to inspire me on account of her indefatigable spirit and drive, and her deep love for her friends, family, and craft. I will continue to add articles and essays to my site that deepen and expound on the remarkable legacy of her life and her presence in mine. There is no doubt that you will be seeing a lot of her on here.
About the Author:
I’m Savannah Monroe, a rhetoric and film student based in Colorado. I mostly write about classic movies and women in comedy with an emphasis on Anne Bancroft. I hope you stick around for the words with the proverbial whiskey, ginger ale on the side. And don’t be stingy, baby!