Opera soprano Beverly Sills dead at 78 Beverly Sills, whose sparkling coloratura soprano and warm, spunky personality made her an international opera celebrity and whose experience as a mother made her a passionate advocate for children with special needs, died on Monday, July 2, 2007, in her Manhattan home. She was 78. Dubbed "America's Queen of Opera" by Time magazine, the Brooklyn-born Sills, widely known as "Bubbles," was an American success story. She rose to stardom without receiving what was considered mandatory -- training in Europe. Moreover, she made her career essentially outside the sacred portals of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, paving the way for generations of wholly American-trained singers to succeed in the field without Met certification. Her repertoire eventually encompassed more than 70 roles, and she recorded 18 full-length operas and several solo recital discs. Her Manon received the Edison Award for best operatic album of 1971, and her Victor Herbert album won a Grammy Award in 1978. She's shown here in 1971 singing the role of Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare, which she considered the turning point in her career. Spurred by the births of a daughter who was deaf and a son who was mentally disabled, Sills also served for many years as chair of the board of the March of Dimes Foundation and national chairwoman of the organization's Mothers' March on Birth Defects.
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