Shirley Knight, 83, passed away Wednesday morning at her daughter’s home in San Marcos, Texas, where she had been staying since April 15.
Knight was nominated for an Academy Award twice: for her supporting actress roles in “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs” (1960) and “Sweet Bird of Youth” (1962).
She was featured in multiple movies, television shows and stage productions, and won three Emmys and a Tony.
In 1960, she said during an interview that she was wary of following the same sad pattern she saw so many others take in her line of work.
“So many actors, once they became famous, lose some beautiful inner thing, something they should try hard to keep,” she told the reporter, according to The Associated Press. “They begin to think too highly of themselves and success.”
Knight grew up in a family in Kansas that was musically talented, but she was the first to go to college. Initially, she had dreams of becoming an opera singer but switched to actress after being inspired by Julie Harris.
She has an impressive IMDb listing, and was working on projects as recent as 2018’s “Periphery.”
As her health began to decline, her daughter took her into her home in Texas.
“I have a rather difficult update regarding my mother Shirley Knight,” Kaitlin Hopkins, her daughter, shared on April 15. “Yesterday, she went into hospice care, and today, we moved her home.
“I suppose the good news is she is at home with us and the corgis and is surrounded by people who love her. She got to sit on the deck in the fresh air and sunshine today and looked out over our beautiful view of San Marcos, and for a short time while she was doing well, she and Jim Jim Price sang Willie Nelson songs together. I was so glad we were home and she could feel the sun on her face.
“I’m deeply grateful for the amazing hospice team who have held me, help my mom with such grace and gentle care. I had hoped she would get better if I was there every minute and we had the help of the facility but she declined so quickly that my head is spinning and I don’t know how to make sense of it all so I’m just trying to be present in the moment with her as best I can.”
“I am so sad, for mom, for me, for anyone whose life my mom touched either personally, professionally or through her incredible work as an actress for over 5 decades. My mom was a master class in what great acting looked like every time she took the stage or the screen. This is just sad, and wrong, and heartbreaking so thank you for being there you guys. You have given me strength to get thru another day.”
Knight’s health reportedly declined quickly, and on April 22 she passed away. Hopkins did what she could to help her mother feel loved, even putting together recordings of friends and acquaintances telling their favorite Shirley stories, which Hopkins kept looping for her mother to listen to in her last days.
“Early this morning April 22nd you passed away, and your sweet soul left us for a better place,” Hopkins wrote on Facebook Wednesday, addressing the post to her mother. “I was at your side and you went peacefully. To me, you were ‘just mom’, to some you were ‘Miss Knight’, ‘Miss Shirley’, ‘Mama Shirley’ (to my students), ‘Shirl the Girl’ (to your friends), and ‘Shirley Knight’ to your fans.”
“I had the good sense over Easter weekend when you were still doing well use the opportunity to Facetime with your closest friends and family. You had a chance to visit with the people you needed to see, the people who loved you so much, and perhaps that was the closure you needed, I don’t know, I just know after that you were ready to let go, and we brought you home.”
“To be honest, I didn’t see things going this way after your surgery, it had gone so well. I wanted to think because Sophie and I got you safely to Texas that I could save you, give you back what you had before but all I could do is make this experience a better one, all I could do is love, forgive, celebrate, and feel.”
“That is the gift I think, the feeling, even though I think my heart will burst, I will welcome that feeling and wish you a goodnight mama, sweet dreams, hug Dad for us. Rest in peace.”
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