Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell, singer, actress and singing teacher who played Mother Abbess in Broadway’s “The Sound of Music” and researched scientific aspects of singing, died July 14 of Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease at her home in New York City. She was 84.

Born in Provo, Utah, Howell began her music career when she won a scholarship to Chicago Musical College to study singing. In 1936, she was hired by the Chicago Opera Co., where she sang for five seasons. When World War II broke, the company shut its doors, and Howell moved to New York City in 1951.

There, Howell landed her first role on Broadway, in the musical “Damn Yankees.” By 1959, she won the role of Mother Abbess for “Sound of Music.” When that show closed its doors on Broadway in 1963, Howell went on to sing in “Anya,” her last Broadway musical.

In 1975, Howell joined the Voice Foundation, where she wrote articles on speech and voice, and researched the left vs. right brain functioning in singing. In 1979, she helped create the NYSTA Music Theater Committee and was given the Susan B. Anthony Award by the National Organization of Women. Over the next 10 years, she served on panels and taught singing while writing an unfinished autobiography.

Howell is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, a grandson and granddaughter.

More Scene

  • TBS 'Full Frontal with Samantha Bee'

    Samantha Bee, Molly Ringwald Discuss #MeToo, Morgan Freeman at 'Full Frontal' FYC

    Elizabeth Howell, singer, actress and singing teacher who played Mother Abbess in Broadway’s “The Sound of Music” and researched scientific aspects of singing, died July 14 of Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease at her home in New York City. She was 84. Born in Provo, Utah, Howell began her music career when she won a […]

  • The Paley Center for Media Presents

    Endemol Shine's Cris Abrego Shares Hope for Bilingual Programming at Paley Center

    Elizabeth Howell, singer, actress and singing teacher who played Mother Abbess in Broadway’s “The Sound of Music” and researched scientific aspects of singing, died July 14 of Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease at her home in New York City. She was 84. Born in Provo, Utah, Howell began her music career when she won a […]

  • 'Adrift' film premiere

    'Adrift' Team Talks Making a 'Female Superhero' on the Open Ocean

    Elizabeth Howell, singer, actress and singing teacher who played Mother Abbess in Broadway’s “The Sound of Music” and researched scientific aspects of singing, died July 14 of Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease at her home in New York City. She was 84. Born in Provo, Utah, Howell began her music career when she won a […]

  • HBO's 'SUCCESSION

    Why Brian Cox Says Wealthy Family Drama 'Succession' Is Both Timeless and Timely

    Elizabeth Howell, singer, actress and singing teacher who played Mother Abbess in Broadway’s “The Sound of Music” and researched scientific aspects of singing, died July 14 of Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease at her home in New York City. She was 84. Born in Provo, Utah, Howell began her music career when she won a […]

  • Gracie Awards

    Rita Moreno Celebrates Female Empowerment at Gracie Awards: 'It's About Damn Time'

    Elizabeth Howell, singer, actress and singing teacher who played Mother Abbess in Broadway’s “The Sound of Music” and researched scientific aspects of singing, died July 14 of Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease at her home in New York City. She was 84. Born in Provo, Utah, Howell began her music career when she won a […]

  • global women's rights awards

    Nina Shaw, Laura Dern Stress Importance of Intersectionality in Time’s Up Movement

    Elizabeth Howell, singer, actress and singing teacher who played Mother Abbess in Broadway’s “The Sound of Music” and researched scientific aspects of singing, died July 14 of Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease at her home in New York City. She was 84. Born in Provo, Utah, Howell began her music career when she won a […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content