Maria Karnilova, who garnered a best supporting actress Tony for her performance as Golde in the original 1964 Broadway cast of “Fiddler on the Roof,” died April 20 of natural causes in Manhattan. She was 80.
Born in Hartford, Conn., to Russian immigrants, Karnilova spent most of her childhood studying ballet. By the age of 7, she danced at folk festivals and went on to train with the Metropolitan Opera’s ballet school. In 1939 she then became a charter member of American Ballet Theatre.
By the 1930s, Karnilova also began crossing over from ballets to musicals. She formed a long-standing association with choreographer Jerome Robbins, who would later direct Karnilova in the 1959 musical “Gypsy,” as well as “Fiddler.” Karnilova also earned a Tony Award nomination for best actress in 1969 for John Kander and Fred Ebb’s “Zorba.”
She is survived by her husband, actor George Irving, two children and three grandchildren.