Joan Copeland, Veteran Soap Opera Star & Broadway Actress, Dies at 99

Joan Copeland attends opening of Picturing Marilyn
Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company

Veteran actress Joan Copeland, known for her roles in numerous daytime soap operas and the sister of playwright Arthur Miller, has died. She was 99.

According to Variety, Copeland passed away the morning of January 4 in her New York City home. The long-tenured actress had been retired since 2011 after making her final on-screen appearance in the short film Love Is Like Life But Longer.

Having made her Broadway debut in 1948 in Sundown Beach, Copeland would go on to star in several more Broadway productions, including Detective Story (1949), Not for Children (1951), and Handful of Fire (1958). She received much praise for her performance in the 1977 Broadway revival of Pal Joey and won the Drama Desk Award for The American Clock (1981), written by her brother Miller.

Copeland started her television career in the 1950s, making guest appearances on shows such as Suspense and The Web. She would go on to land starring roles in various soap operas, including Andrea Whiting on Search for Tomorrow, twin sisters Maggie and Kay Logan on Love of Life, and Gwendolyn Lord Abbott on One Life to Live.

Her other TV credits include Chicago Hope, ER, All in the Family, The Patty Duke Show, Naked City, and Law & Order, where she played the recurring character of Judge Rebecca Stein.

Copeland also starred in several movies, starting with The Goddess in 1958. She also appeared in the likes of Middle of the Night (1959), Roseland (1977), Happy New Year (1987), The Adventures of Sebastian Cole (1998), The Last Request (2006), and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009).

“From the time I was a little girl I had the stage bug,” Copeland told The New York Times in 1981. “It was like a big dream, like kids who want to fly to the moon today. Perhaps I was unconsciously influenced by my brother. He had made it. I was desperate to get out of the dreariness I was living in.”