Helen Hanft Biography

Birthday: 1934-04-03
Place of Birth: New York City, New York
Wiki Biography: Actress Helen Hanft was born in New York City in 1934. She began her career on the stage in the late 1950's in theatre productions after studying drama at The Performing Arts High School. She transferred to Off-Off-Broadway productions, starring in a series of plays written by the late Tom Eyen. One of the plays was to make Hanft a star of both Off-Off-Broadway and the avant-garde underground, bringing her a cult following in the years to come. This was the groundbreaking "Why Hanna's Skirt Won't Stay Down" in which she portrayed Hanna O'Brien, a cinema ticket kiosk employee who spent her nights standing over a breezehole in Coney Island for sexual thrills. She is well-documented in many books and writings for having made theatre history with her performances and being at the center of such renowned companies as Theatre of The Eye and an integral part of the La Mama E.T.C. and Caffe Cino families. She continued to appear in plays for both Tom Eyen and other various New York playwrights throughout the 1960's and 1970's but later went on to develop a considerable film career. She still frequents the New York stage in mostly Off-Broadway productions there playing everything from distressed mothers to eccentric dying matriarchs to monstrously wicked society women. Occasionally Hanft appears in such popular television fare as Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which is filmed in her native New York. She is perhaps best known for her roles in Used People (1992) as the ever-endearing "Aunt Ruthie" (opposite Shirley MacLaine) and as the almost villainous Department of Motor Vehicles employee, "Miss Hellberg" (originally the character was named "Miss Heilman" in the script), in License to Drive (1988) (opposite former teen heartthrob Corey Haim). Hanft also left indelible marks in such films as Stardust Memories (1980), (directed by Woody Allen), Honky Tonk Freeway (1981) (directed by the late John Schlesinger), Arthur (1981), (opposite Dudley Moore), and Moonstruck (1987), (opposite Cher) as the liquor store owner, Lotte. A marvellous and dazzling actress of many facets and great depth, Hanft still delights and thrills audiences today with her film and stage characterizations. IMDb Mini Biography By: Michael Loris Mini Biography Helen Hanft was known in the 1960s and 1970s as "the Ethel Merman of Off-Off Broadway." The greatest star of undergound drama, she was the favorite leading lady of playwright Tom Eyen (who later wrote the Broadway smash "Dreamgirls"). Eyen created for her a play called, "Why Hanna's Skirt Won't Stay Down" which was revived more than any other play at the Caffe Cino and La Mama E.T.C., the two leading Off-Off Broadway theatres. Her brassy, energetic comic style was a great influence acknowledged by the young Bette Midler, who was often to be seen in the front row at Greenwich Village playhouses applauding Ms. Hanft.

Helen HanftPhotos & Pictures


Movies Title Appeared As Year Genre
Stardust Memories 1980 0, 0
License to Drive Miss Hellberg 1988 Comedy
Fear, Anxiety & Depression Roz 1989 Comedy
I.Q. 1994 Comedy, Romance
The Associate 1996 Comedy
Fever Louisa 2000 Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Dummy 2003
When the Evening Comes Rose Bushman 2009 Drama