Eileen Herlie, known to millions of daytime viewers as All My Children's Myrtle Fargate, has died. The actress passed away on October 8 due to complications from pneumonia. She was 90.
Born Eileen Herlihy on March 8, 1918, in Glasgow, Scotland, Herlie was working as a theater actress in London when she was cast by Laurence Olivier for his 1948 film adaptation of Hamlet. In the movie, Herlie played the role of Gertrude, the mother of Olivier's Hamlet -- even though Herlie was actually younger than Olivier! Herlie would play the role again later in her career, starring opposite Richard Burton in a 1964 Broadway production and a subsequent film adaptation of the play.
Hamlet wasn't Herlie's only appearance on Broadway. She also appeared in All American, Crown Matrimonial, and The Matchmaker. In 1960, Herlie received a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for her role in Take Me Along.
In the 1970s, Herlie began branching out into television. In 1972, she appeared as Queen Mary in the television movie, The Woman I Love. Four years later, she would land a role on the daytime drama series, All My Children.
In 1976, Herlie made her first appearance as Myrtle Lum, a former carnie who arrived in Pine Valley under less-than-honorable circumstances. Phoebe Tyler had hired Myrtle to pretend to be a Kitty Shea's mother in an attempt to break up Kitty and Phoebe's son, Linc. Myrtle managed to shake her shady past and became one of Pine Valley's most respected residents. Many townspeople passed through the doors of her boarding house and, in addition to having a warm place to sleep, most received warm words of wisdom. Myrtle also became a surrogate mother to Erica Kane after the death of Erica's mother, Mona. Though the storyline was a bit of a stretch, Myrtle also developed a friendship with Red Kilgren, better known as Santa Claus. The plot also allowed Herlie the opportunity to play Mrs. Claus.
For her work on All My Children, Herlie received four consecutive Daytime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress.
Eileen is survived by her brother and her nieces and nephews.
All My Children has announced that it will devote the December 19 episode to Herlie. The special episode will feature flashbacks and other memories.