Eileen Heckart will cap off a busy spring by collecting a special Tony for Lifetime Achievement on June 4. The veteran actress has made it clear that The Waverly Gallery, in which she stars at the Promenade Theatre until May 21, will mark her final stage appearance. The theatre community, in reaction to both this announcement and the fineness of her performance, has lauded her with every conceivable honor. To date, she has collected a Drama League Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award and Lucille Lortel Award. Heckart, 81, began her stage career at New York's Blackfriars Guild in 1943, in a play called Tinker's Dam. Broadway soon followed, with a string of roles in important and/or successful play, including William Inge's Picnic in 1953; The Bad Seed in 1954; Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge and A Memory of Two Mondays in 1955; The Dark at the Top of the Stairs in 1957 (critic Kenneth Tynan, seeing this, called Heckart "the best thin actress alive"); and Arthur Laurents' Invitation to a March in 1960. She toured in Laurents' The Time of the Cuckoo in 1964.
Heckart received Tony nominations for The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Invitation to a March and Butterflies Are Free. She won an Oscar for the 1973 film version of the latter, and claimed an Emmy Award for her performance in "Save Me a Place at Forest Lawn" in 1967. More recent credits include Terrence McNally and Jon Robin Baitz's House at the Bay Street Theatre.
-- By Robert Simonson