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Actress Anne Bancroft dies

'Mrs. Robinson' of 'The Graduate'

Anne Bancroft
Academy Awards
Dustin Hoffman
Helen Keller

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Actress Anne Bancroft, who seduced Dustin Hoffman in "The Graduate" and won Oscar and Tony awards for playing Helen Keller's teacher in "The Miracle Worker," has died of cancer at age 73, her agent said Tuesday.

Born Anna Maria Italiano in the Bronx in 1931, Bancroft was one of only a handful of performers to win Oscar, Tony and Emmy awards. She died Monday, agent Toni Howard told CNN.

"Anne Bancroft was a great actress, and as a human being, wife, mother (and) friend, she was unique," Mike Nichols, who directed Bancroft in "The Graduate," said in a written statement.

"Her combination of brains, humor, frankness and sense were unlike any other artist. Her beauty was constantly shifting with her roles, and because she was a consummate actress, she changed radically for every part."

She is survived by her husband, director and comedian Mel Brooks, and their son, Max.

Bancroft won a Tony for best actress in a play in 1960 for her portrayal of Annie Sullivan, the half-blind teacher who coaxes the blind and deaf Helen Keller out of her isolation, and won an Academy Award for best actress for the same role two years later.

She also won a Tony award for best supporting actress in 1958, for her role in the play "Two for the Seesaw," and was nominated for Oscars four times -- including for her portrayal as Mrs. Robinson, the bored, predatory mother of Hoffman's girlfriend in the 1967 hit "The Graduate."

And she won Emmy awards in 1970 for a television special with Brooks, "Annie, the Women in the Life of a Man;" and in 1999 for the television drama "Deep in My Heart."

Bancroft initially took the stage name Anne Marno after entering New York's American Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1948. She found work in live television before heading to Hollywood and changing her last name to Bancroft at the behest of producer Darryl F. Zanuck.

She married Brooks in 1964, and appeared in three of her husband's comedies: "To Be or Not To Be," in 1983, a remake of the Jack Benny-Carole Lombard classic; "Silent Movie," 1976; and "Dracula: Dead and Loving It," in 1995. She made her debut as a writer and director in 1980 with "Fatso," starring Dom DeLuise.

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