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PASSINGS / Anna Manahan

Irish actress won a Tony

March 12, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Anna Manahan, 84, a leading Irish actress who won a Tony Award in 1998 for her role as the nasty mother Mag in "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" on Broadway, died Sunday in her hometown of Waterford, Ireland, after a long illness, Irish newspapers reported.

Thirty years before winning that best actress Tony in Martin McDonagh's play, Manahan had been nominated for her acting in a 1968 Broadway staging of "Lovers" by another Irish playwright, Brian Friel.

In recent years she had gained prominence as an advocate for the elderly, criticizing the Irish government's plans to trim health benefits for senior citizens.

Born Oct. 18, 1924, the daughter of a Waterford comedian, Manahan trained at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin and began appearing on stage in the 1940s.

She married Colm O'Kelly, a Dublin stage manager, in 1955, but less than a year later he died of polio. She never remarried or had children.

Her acting career flourished under impresarios Hilton Edwards and Michael MacLiammoir at Dublin's Gate Theatre, and she came to be known as an exact interpreter of such Irish playwrights as J.M. Synge, Sean O'Casey, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde. Seldom without a role to play, she appeared in stage productions throughout Ireland as well as in London and on and off Broadway.

Primarily a stage actress, Manahan also had many film credits, including "A Man of No Importance" (1994) and "Hear My Song" (1991), and appeared in Irish TV series.

Of acting, Manahan told the Irish Times in 1995, "It's my vocation, my way of life, the only one I've ever known."

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