Raised in Washington, D.C., the great-granddaughter (on her father’s side) of German immigrants, Frances Hussey Sternhagen taught acting, singing and dancing to schoolchildren before first performing herself with the Arena Stage Group.
Since then, she has been seen in numerous Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. She has been nominated five times for a Tony Award (winning once for her performance in “The Good Doctor”). Other shows in which she appeared include “Equus”, “On Golden Pond”, “Angel”, and “You Can’t Take it With You”. Among many other appearances Off-Broadway, including the original production of “On Golden Pond”, Sternhagen delighted Off-Broadway audiences for over two years with her feisty portrayal of the title character in “Driving Miss Daisy”.
Her film debut was in Up the Down Staircase (1967). Since then her credits have included Fedora (1978), Starting Over (1979), Outland (1981) and Communion (1989). She appeared on the long-running television series Cheers (1982) as Esther Clavin, mother of John Ratzenberger’s character, the pedagogic know-it-all mailman Cliff Clavin. She played wealthy philanthropist and society matron Millicent Carter, the grandmother of John Carter (Noah Wyle) on ER (1994). She also appeared in episodes of Sex and the City (1998) and Becker (1998).
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