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All My Children Actress Eileen Herlie


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'All My Children' Actress Eileen Herlie

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'All My Children' Actress Eileen Herlie

NEW YORK CITY, New York -- Eileen Herlie, a stage and TV actress who appeared on the ABC daytime soap opera, "All My Children," for more than three decades as former carny turned boutique owner, Myrtle Fargate, died Wednesday, October 8 of complications of pneumonia in New York City, the network announced. She was 90.

The actress joined the long-running show in 1976 to play Myrtle, who became a surrogate mother to many of the soap's major characters -- including Erica Kane, portrayed by Susan Lucci. "I'm sure Eileen is lighting up the skies in heaven with her flaming red hair and lovely Scottish accent," Lucci said.

Herlie's last appearance on the program, set in fictional Pine Valley, was in June. Before joining "All My Children," Herlie was a regular on Broadway. She made her debut in Thornton Wilder's "The Matchmaker" in 1955, playing milliner Irene Molloy in the comedy that starred Ruth Gordon as Dolly Gallagher Levi.

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'All My Children' Co-Stars (L-R) Jill Larson as Opal, Eileen Herlie

as Myrtle and Lee Merriweather as Ruth

Musical Theater buffs knew Herlie from her appearances in two shows. The first show is the 1959 musical, "Take Me Along," an adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's "Ah, Wilderness!," in which she played Jackie Gleason's love interest. Herlie was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in "Take Me Along."

The second show is the 1962 musical, "All American," in which Herlie co-starred with Ray Bolger. In "All American," she and Bolger sang the musical's best-known song, "Once Upon a Time," a Charles Strouse-Lee Adams tune later popularized by Tony Bennett.

Among Herlie's other Broadway appearances were the Richard Burton 1964 production of "Hamlet," in which she played Queen Gertrude and two plays written by Peter Ustinov, "Photo Finish" in 1963 and "Halfway Up the Tree" in 1967.

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The 1948 cast of 'Hamlet' included (L-R) Eileen Herlie,

Sir Laurence Olivier (seated) and Basil Sydney

Another Broadway triumph for Herlie was 1973's "Crown Matrimonial," a drama about the events leading to the abdication of King Edward VIII, in which Herlie portrayed Queen Mary and George Grizzard played the love-stricken monarch.

Born in 1918 in Glasgow, Scotland, Herlie worked for several years in the Scottish National Theater and in the English Theater with Tyrone Guthrie. Among the many hit London plays Herlie appeared in was Jean Cocteau's "The Eagle Has Two Heads."

Her movie credits include two filmings of "Hamlet," the Burton version and the 1948 Laurence Olivier production, in which she also played Gertrude. Her other movies include "Freud" in 1962 with Montgomery Clift, and Sidney Lumet's "The Sea Gull" in 1968 with Simone Signoret, James Mason and Vanessa Redgrave.

Married and divorced twice, Herlie is survived by a brother, nieces and nephews.

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