Joan Copeland, who graced both the stage and screen for decades as a Broadway star and soap opera actress, died the morning of Jan. 4 in her New York City home, Copeland’s family confirmed to Variety. She was 99.
Copeland’s career included performances on numerous daytime soap operas — including “Search for Tomorrow” (1967-72) “Love of Life” (1960-63), “The Edge of the Night” (1956) and “How to Survive a Marriage” (1974).
As one of the first members of The Actors Studio, she made her Broadway debut in 1948 as Nadine in “Sundown Beach.” Her other Broadway credits include “Detective Story,” (1950) “Coco,” (1969) and “45 Seconds From Broadway” (2001).
Copeland was the sister of playwright Arthur Miller, who died in 2005. She appeared in one of Miller’s plays, “The American Clock” (1980), a performance for which she earned a Drama Desk award.
“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.”
Still, Copeland worked to separate her career from her brother’s — which influenced her to take on the stage name “Joan Copeland.”
“I did not want to trade on my brother’s name,” she told the Times.
While most of Copeland’s career was on the Broadway stage and in television series, she also made it to the big screen. Her first film, Paddy Chayefsky’s “The Goddess” (1958), was said to be based on Miller’s second wife (and Copeland’s onetime sister-in-law) Marilyn Monroe. In addition, Copeland appeared in “Roseland” (1977), “A Little Sex” (1982), “The Object of My Affection” (1998) and as the voice of Tanana in Disney’s “Brother Bear” (2003).
She is survived by her son, Eric Kupchik, and her niece, actress Rebecca Miller.