Thursday, May 23, 2024

RIP Famed Actress Joan Copeland, 99, Sister of Playwright Arthur Miller, Won Drama Desk Award, Star of Stage and Soaps


Joan Copeland was one of my favorite people I ran into over the years. The famed actress sister of legendary playwright Arthur Miller died today at her house out in Amagansett at age 99.

Joan was a pip. Flashback to the summer of 2013, Joan appeared in the lobby of the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor. This was a good 45 minutes away from her house. We were all there for the opening night of “Irma Vep.” “Joan,” I asked, “how did you get here?” She looked at me like I was crazy. She said, “I drove, of course. It’s only 45 minutes! The roads were very clear.”

Joan Copeland appeared in 13 Broadway productions. She won a Drama Desk Award in 1981 starring in her brother’s play, “The American Clock.” Four years earlier she’d been nominated for a Drama Desk Award in “Pal Joey.” She served as Katharine Hepburn’s standby in “Coco,” as well.

On TV, Joan was a staple on Procter & Gamble soap operas like “Search for Tomorrow” (a five year run from 1967 to 72), “Love of Life,” “One Life to Live,” and “The Edge of Night.” She was also a regular on “Law & Order,” appearing in 8 different episodes. She also appeared in several movies, but she was a real New York actor — the kind that barely exists anymore — and split her time between the soaps and Broadway.

Condolences to her family, especially niece Rebecca Miller, who I know was very close to her. Joan was a talented, lovely lady, a connection to really classic New York theater, and she will be very much missed.



Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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