, whose Broadway and Hollywood
was highlighted by her Oscar-nominated roles in the 1970s films "An Unmarried Woman" and "Starting Over," died Friday. She was 66.
-winning playwright David Rabe, said she died after a 21-year battle with chronic lymphocytic
. She was surrounded by her family when she died at her home in Lakeville, Conn., he said.
She dealt with the disease courageously, quietly and privately, Rabe said, and conducted herself with enormous grace "and made it into an opportunity for her children to grow and be human."
(1978), directed by
, Clayburgh starred opposite
and Michael Murphy as a divorcee exploring her sexuality. She was nominated for an Academy Award as best actress but lost to
in "Coming Home." Her second Oscar nomination came for
about a divorced man, played by
, who falls in love but can't get over his ex-wife, played by
won for "Norma Rae.")
Her other movie credits include "Semi-Tough," "I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can,"
"First Monday in October" and "Running With Scissors." On Broadway, she appeared in
"Design for Living," the original production of
's "Jumpers," and the Tony Award-winning musicals "Pippin" and "The Rothschilds."
She appeared on TV shows including
and was nominated for two Emmys: for best actress in 1975 for her work on "Hustling" and for her guest turn on
Born April 30, 1944, in
, Clayburgh came from a privileged family. Her father was vice president of two large companies and her mother was a secretary for Broadway producer
. Her grandmother, Alma Clayburgh, was an opera singer and New York socialite.
She was entranced seeing
play "Peter Pan" on Broadway, and she and a school friend concocted their own dramatics every day at home. At Sarah Lawrence College, she studied religion, philosophy and literature.
Clayburgh also took drama classes at Sarah Lawrence. She and her friend
acted in a film, "The Wedding Party," directed by a Sarah Lawrence graduate,
. After graduating with a bachelor of arts degree, she began performing in repertory and in Broadway musicals such as "The Rothschilds" and "Pippin."
, she headed the 2005 Broadway cast of "A Naked Girl on the Appian Way," Richard Greenberg's comedy about one family's unusual domestic tribulations.
Director Doug Hughes, who directed her in a production of
's "All My Sons" at the
two years ago, called her for "A Naked Girl."
"That she has the time to do a run of a play is just an extraordinary boon because I've had the pleasure of seeing her play a bona fide tragic American role beautifully, and I have had the pleasure of directing her in a very, very smart light comedy and be utterly brilliant in that," he said in 2005.
During an interview that year, Clayburgh explained the unglamorous side of acting.
"One of the funny things about actors is that people look at their careers in retrospect, as if they have a plan," she said.
"Mostly, you just get a call. You're just sitting there going, 'Oh, my God. I'm never going to work again. Oh, God. I'm too old. Maybe I should go and work for
.' And then it changes."
Besides her husband, survivors include her daughter, actress Lily Rabe; a son, Michael Rabe; and a stepson, Jason Rabe.
Her family will have a memorial in about six months, though plans have not been finalized.