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Anne Pitoniak, 85; actress starred on Broadway, TV

Judi Dench (left) performed with Anne Pitoniak during a production of 'Amy's View.' Judi Dench (left) performed with Anne Pitoniak during a production of "Amy's View." (Joan Marcus/Ethel Barrymore Theater via Associated Press/File 1999)

NEW YORK -- Anne Pitoniak, the Tony-nominated actress best known for her work in Marsha Norman's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, " 'night, Mother," has died of complications from cancer. She was 85.

Ms. Pitoniak died April 22 at her Manhattan home, her son, Christian Milord, told The New York Times.

The actress, born in Westfield, Mass., appeared on television and in regional theater, most prominently at Actors Theatre of Louisville, before making her Broadway debut in 1983 in " 'night, Mother." Norman's play tells the story of a despondent young woman, originally played by Kathy Bates, who is contemplating suicide. Ms. Pitoniak, received a Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of the woman's disbelieving mother.

"Anne Pitoniak is nothing less than perfect as Thelma," Boston Globe critic Kevin Kelly wrote in his review of the play, which was produced by the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge before it reached Broadway. "Squinting over the gleam of glasses which inevitably skid to the end of her nose, scuffing about in low shoes, a pink dress and a draggy blue cardigan, she's the image of everyone's Mother. But Anne Pitoniak doesn't just settle for image. Her anxiety is so deeply felt and projected that it's almost tactile. It is a majestic performance."

Ms. Pitoniak was also nominated for a Tony for her role in the 1994 revival of "Picnic." Among her other Broadway credits were "The Octette Bridge Club" (1985), "Amy's View" (1999) with Judi Dench, "Uncle Vanya" (2000), "Dance of Death" (2001) with Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren, and "Imaginary Friends" (2002).

In addition to her son, she leaves a daughter, Susan.

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