Uta Thyra Hagen

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Uta Thyra Hagen

Birthdate: (84)
Birthplace: Göttingen, Germany
Death: January 14, 2004 (84)
New York, NY, USA (Natural causes)
Immediate Family:

Wife of Herbert Berghof
Ex-wife of José Ferrer
Mother of <private> Ferrer

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Immediate Family

About Uta Thyra Hagen


Uta Hagen was a German-born American actress who originated the role of Martha in the 1963 Broadway premiere of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee (who called her "a profoundly truthful actress"). She won the Tony Award three times and became a highly influential acting teacher at New York's Herbert Berghof Studio and authored a best-selling acting text, Respect for Acting. She was elected to the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981. Hagen was on the Hollywood blacklist, in part because of her association with Paul Robeson, and this curtailed film opportunities, focusing her to perform in New York theaters.

She made her professional debut in 1937, in Dennis, Massachusetts, as Ophelia in Eva Le Gallienne’s production of HAMLET. In 1938, still in her eighteenth year, she made her Broadway debut as Nina in the Lunts’ storied production of Chekhov’s THE SEA GULL.

Her many credits include starring roles on Broadway in KEY LARGO, THE COUNTRY GIRL, ST. JOAN, and WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF. She toured in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE with Anthony Quinn and played Desdemona in OTHELLO with Paul Robeson and Jose Ferrer.

She married José Ferrer in 1938, with whom she had a daughter, Leticia (Lettie) Ferrer, an actor in New York City. They divorced in 1948 partially because of her affair with her Othello co-star Paul Robeson, an affair which was long concealed.

She was married to the actor and teacher and director Herbert Berghof from 1957 until his death in 1990. At his death, she said, "You know, we were partners in our work, in everything. We did everything together. Very few people understand what that kind of a loss is like."



Awards and Nominations

1951 Tony Award, Actress- Play, The Country Girl"
1963 Tony Award, Actress- Play, " Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Special 1999 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement
2002 National Medal of Arts

Interestingly, Hagen was quoted, saying, "Awards don't really mean much."


"Once in a while, there's stuff that makes me say, That's what theatre's about. It has to be a human event on the stage, and that doesn't happen very often."
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Uta Thyra Hagen's Timeline

June 12, 1919
Göttingen, Germany
January 14, 2004
Age 84
New York, NY, USA