Ms. Brookes first won attention for her award-winning work Off-Broadway in the 1950s and early 1960s. She won a Theater World Award in 1955 for playing Phaedra in The Cretan Woman, an adaptation of Euripedes, at the Provincetown Playhouse. She later won an Obie Award for her 1963 performance in Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author.
By the 1950s, she was acting on Broadway, in Giraudoux's Tiger at the Gates with Michael Redgrave, and in a couple productions from the Phoenix Theatre: She was Juliet in a John Houseman-directed production of Measure for Measure and played the title role in Webster's The Dutchess of Malfi.
In what was arguably her most significant credit, she played the addled matriarch Halie in the original 1978 New York production of Sam Shepard's Pulitzer Prize-winning Buried Child.
In the early 1990s, Edward Albee used her twice when Signature Theatre Company did a season of his work, casting her in the evenings of one-acts Counting the Ways/Listening and Box, Sandbox and Finding the Sun.
Film work included "Losing Isaiah," "Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear," "Sea of Love," "Ghost Story" and "The Gambler."