Born: Anna Maria Louise Italiano September 17, 1931 in The Bronx, New York, USA Died: June 6, 2005 (age 73) in New York City, New York, USA Early life Bancroft was born Anna Maria Louisa Italiano in the Bronx, New York to Michael and Mildred Italiano, both children of Italian immigrants. Bancroft graduated Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx in 1949, and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, the Actors Studio, and the American Film Institute's Directing Workshop for Women at UCLA. After appearing in a number of live television dramas under the name "Anne Marno", she was told to change her surname for her film debut in Don't Bother to Knock in 1952, and she chose the surname "Bancroft" because she felt it was "elegant". Career Bancroft was a contract player in the early days of her career just as the studio contract system was ending. She left Hollywood and returned to New York due to the quality of roles she was being offered. In 1958 she appeared opposite Henry Fonda in the Broadway production of Two for the Seesaw, for which she won a Tony Award, and another in 1960 for The Miracle Worker. She took the latter role back to Hollywood, and won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1962. A highly acclaimed television special, "Annie: the Women in the Life of a Man" won her an Emmy award for her clowning, singing and acting. Bancroft is one of a very select few entertainers to win an Oscar, an Emmy and a Tony award. Other major film roles were in The Pumpkin Eater, 7 Women, and, in what may be her most well-known role, as Mrs. Robinson opposite Dustin Hoffman in the film The Graduate. Although Bancroft is now iconically identified as Mrs. Robinson, she was not the first choice for the role; Patricia Neal (who had concerns owing to her then recent stroke), Doris Day and Jeanne Moreau turned it down. Bancroft was ambivalent about her appearance in The Graduate; she stated in several interviews that the role overshadowed all of her other work. The May-December screen romance between Hoffman and Bancroft depicted the believability of both actors, as the age difference between them was a mere six years. In 1980, she made her debut as a screenwriter and director in Fatso, in which she starred along with Dom DeLuise. Bancroft was also the original choice to play Joan Crawford in the 1981 movie Mommie Dearest, but backed out at the 11th hour, and was replaced by Faye Dunaway. She was also a front-runner for the role of Aurora Greenway in Terms of Endearment, but declined in order to partake in the remake of To Be or Not to Be (1983). Marriage and family From July 1, 1953 to February 13, 1957 she was married to Martin May, but the marriage produced no children. In 1961, Bancroft met Mel Brooks in a rehearsal for the Perry Como variety show. Brooks bribed a studio employee to find out where she was having dinner so he could meet her again. Once Bancroft met Brooks, she went to her therapist she was seeing and told him they had to conclude the therapy as fast as possible because she had met the man she was going to marry. They married on August 5, 1964 in New York City Hall and remained married until her death. They had one son, Maximillian, in 1972. They were seen three times on the screen together: once dancing a tango in Brooks's 1976 Silent Movie, in Brooks's 1983 remake of To Be or Not to Be., and in the episode entitled "Opening Night" of the HBO show Curb Your Enthusiasm. Brooks also produced the 1980 film The Elephant Man, in which Bancroft acted. It has been reported she was the one who encouraged Brooks to turn The Producers into a Broadway musical. She also had a cameo playing herself along with Mel Brooks on an episode of Larry David's HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm where the couple celebrated the (presumed) demise of The Producers so that they could leave it behind them. Death Bancroft died on June 6, 2005 of uterine cancer aged 73 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Her death came as a surprise to even some of Bancroft's friends; she was intensely private and had not released details of her illness. Mel Brooks held a memorial service for her some weeks later and advised the guests that if anyone felt like grieving, to "keep it to yourself". Among the attendees was Bancroft's costar in The Miracle Worker, actress Patty Duke. When a reporter asked Duke's opinion of Bancroft, Duke replied that she could not think of enough superlatives. Bancroft was survived by Brooks, their son, her mother and two sisters. She is interred at the Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York, near her father, Michael Italiano.