26 of 31| Phyllis Frelich | Temple City, California |Deaf Women Herstory Month 2020

Image Description: Black and white photo of a fair skinned woman smiling at the camera with curly short dark hair.

Bio : Phyllis Frelich was born deaf to two deaf parents on February 29, 1944. She attended the North Dakota School for the Deaf when growing up. Frelich attend Gallaudet University, which at the time was called Gallaudet College. In 1967, Frelich made her debut as an actress on NBC in a nationwide viewing of “Theatre of the Deaf” at only 23 years old. Frelich continued her career as an actress and was in many different shows in her life. She was in “A Christmas Carol”, in which she played a male Scrooge. She was also in “Lolly Foster’s Daredevil Airshow”, which aired in the Kennedy Center. In 1980, Frelich starred in her biggest role ever. She played Sarah in “Children of a Lesser God”. It was this role that made her a star. In the year 1980, the same year this play won Best Play of the year; Frelich won a Tony Award herself for Best Actress. In 1985, Frelich was nominated for an Emmy Award for her role as Janice in “Love is Never Silent”. She also directed plays such as “Brilliant Traces” and “The House of Bernarda Alba”. 

Phyllis Frelich was a well know deaf actress, and is still today considered to be one of the most noted deaf actresses in the United States. Aside from all of this, Phyllis guest starred on many different television shows. She made an appearance on ER, Pacific Blue, Diagnosis Murder, La Law, Hunter, Spenser: For Hire, Gimme A Break, Barney Miller, and Santa Barbara. She was also in a television movie on CBS, “Bridge to Silence”. Frelich was given many awards for her successes. Her most known award was her Tony Award; however, she was also awarded the Rough Rider Award, given by the state of North Carolina. She was given the Ovation Award, the Outer Circle Award, and the LA Pramalogue Award. Gallaudet University honored Frelich by giving her a Humanitarian Award along side of an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts. Phyllis Frelich has lived a very successful life. Frelich was also one of the founding members of the National Theater of the Deaf, with whom she performed on Broadway. She married a set designer named Robert Steinberg and together they had two sons. Frelich died on April 10, 2014 at her home in Temple City, California at the age of 70 on April 2014 from progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).