Fast Facts

  • Nicknamed "First Lady of the American Theater."
  • A hospital, a New York City theater and an award are named in her honor.
  • Her play Coquette closed when she became ill during her pregnancy with Mary MacArthur; the producer tried to get out of paying the actors' severance citing Helen's child as "An Act of God."
  • Her debut film was The Sin of Madelon Claudet, for which she won a Best Actress Oscar.
  • Founded the Mary MacArthur Fund to raise awareness about polio after her daughter died from the disease in 1949; was credited by Jonas Salk for helping him establish funding for a vaccine.

Awards

  • 1978, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama or Comedy Special: Nominee
  • 1970, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Winner
  • 1958, Tony — Actress (Dramatic): Winner
  • 1980, Tony — Lawrence Langner Memorial Award for Distinguished Lifetime Achievement in the American Theatre: Winner
  • 1974, Emmy — Best Lead Actress in a Limited Series: Nominee
  • 1953, Emmy — Best Actress: Winner
  • 1947, Tony — Actress (Dramatic): Winner
  • 1958, Emmy — Actress - Best Single Performance - Lead or Support: Nominee
  • 1932, Oscar — Best Actress: Winner
  • 1972, Emmy — Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Nominee
  • 1976, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actress for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series: Nominee
  • 1932, Venice Film Festival — Best Actress: Winner
  • 1970, Tony — Actress (Dramatic): Nominee
  • 1976, Grammy — Best Spoken Word Album: Winner
  • 1975, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy: Nominee
  • 1959, Emmy — Best Single Performance by an Actress: Nominee
  • 1952, Emmy — Best Actress: Nominee
  • 1951, Emmy — Best Actress: Nominee
  • 1957, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama: Nominee

Relationships

  • Charles MacArthur — Husband (deceased)
  • James MacArthur — Son
  • Francis Van Arnum Brown — Father
  • Catherine Estell Brown — Mother
  • Mary MacArthur — Daughter