Jill Clayburgh dies at 66

An Unmarried Woman star succumbs to leukaemia

by Jennie Kermode

In recent years she kept a low profile in Hollywood, being better known for her TV work in the likes of The Practice and Dirty, Sexy Money, but Jill Clayburgh was a twice Oscar-nominated star who took the 1978 Best Actress award at Cannes for her work in An Unmarried Woman. She died at home yesterday after a 20 year struggle with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

The daughter of a theatrical production secretary, Clayburgh first became interested in acting when at college and joined Boston's Charles Street Repertory Theater, leading to an extensive Broadway career. She moved into film with a starring role in Brian De Palma's The Wedding Party in 1963, but despite a number of subsequent roles in popular comedies never quite found the material she wanted to stretch herself. It wasn't until 1978, in the role of a divorcee finding a new direction in life, that she really made an impact. Controversial in its time, An Unmarried Woman nevertheless drew praise from the critics and successfully tapped into a generation of women who were starting to see their lives represented on the screen for the first time. Clayburgh showed that she could bring a lighthearted touch to serious issues without ever diminishing the strength of her onscreen characters, with further impressive performances in films like Starting Over and I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can.

Clayburgh is survived by her husband, the playwright David Rabe, and their two children, who include actress Lily Rabe. One of her final roles was in Love And Other Drugs, which will open across the UK next month

Share this with others on...
News

Hoffman and Baumbach The star and director go head to head at Tribeca.

Work in progress Jessica Oreck on timelessness, true stories, and One Man Dies A Million Times.

Within a neurodivergent world Rachel Israel on developing Keep The Change.

Son Of Sofia takes a top prize at Tribeca Full list of award winners announced.

Polanski back on Cannes red carpet Director among late signings for festival.

Jonathan Demme dead at 73 Eclectic director succumbed to oesophogeal cancer.

More news and features

We're bringing you all the latest from the Tribeca Film Festival.



We're looking forward to this year's Cannes Film Festival.



We've recently been at New Directors, New Films in New York, BFI Flare in London, and the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.



Read our full for recent coverage.


Visit our festivals section.

Interact

Win A Dog's Purpose and Sleepless merchandise in our latest competitions.