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Jill Clayburgh dies of leukaemia

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Jill Clayburgh’s career spanned and incredible five decades during which her choices of role led her to become an empowering force for female actors, has died at her Connecticut home after a twenty one year long battle against lymphocytic leukaemia.

Clayburgh starred in films such as An Unmarried Woman and It’s My Turn from the 70s and ’80s.  Her husband David Rabe, a Tony-award winning playwright told The New York Times that she had died from chronic leukaemia at the age of sixty six.

The couple’s daughter, Broadway actress Lily Rabe, took a short, compassionate leave from Shakespeare’s A Merchant of Venice, in which she stars alongside Al Pacino to be with her mother.  The show is set to open this week.

David Rabe said that his wife Clayburgh had died on Friday in the company of her family at her home in Lakeville, Connecticut, after a 21-year battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He added that she dealt with the disease courageously, and with quiet dignity, “and made it into an opportunity for her children to grow and be human.”

The Broadway and movie actress, alongside such esteemed peers as Anne Bancroft, Shirley MacLaine and Jane Fonda, ushered in a new era for female actors in Hollywood by assuming characters which were confident, able, strong minded but still humanly flawed.

Her pinnacle and Oscar nomination came courtesy of her role as a divorcee in An Unmarried Woman, who, free from the shackles of a sixteen year marriage went on to explore her sexuality.

Clayburgh’s final screen bow is the forthcoming Love And Other Drugs in which she plays the mother of Jake Gyllenhaal’s character.

She leaves behind three children, Broadway actress Lily Rabe and two sons, Michael and Jason.  Lily Rabe said that there will be no funeral, but the family will have a memorial within the next six months, although plans have not yet been finalized.

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Read our other articles about celebrities with cancer like Michael Douglas, Denise Borino-Quinn, Gregory Isaacs and Maura Tierney.

images: gayamericanheroes.info, broadwayworld.com

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