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 “I was at a point where I was ready to say I am what I am because of what I am and if you like me I'm grateful, and if you don't, what am I going to do about it? Anna Maria Luisa Italiano was born on September 17, 1931, in the Bronx, New York, the daughter of Mildred DiNapoli (1908-2010), a telephone operator, and Michael Italiano (1906-2001), a dress pattern maker, both children of Italian immigrants.  In her career, Anne won one Academy Award, three BAFTA Awards, two Golden Globes, two Tony Awards and two Emmy Awards, and several other awards and nominations.

Anne graduated from Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx in 1948, and attended HB Studio, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, the Actors Studio, and the American Film Institute's Directing Workshop for Women at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she moved to work on films.

She appeared in many television dramas under the name Anne Marno until she was told to change her last name for her film debut in Don't Bother to Knock (1952) and she became Anne Bancroft.

In 1958 she came back to New York to make her Broadway debut opposite Henry Fonda in William Gibson's play Two for the Seesaw, directed by Arthur Penn. She won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play.

Two years later, she played one of her most memorable roles, Annie Sullivan, the sight-impaired Irish girl who teaches young Helen Keller, played by Patty Duke, to communicate in The Miracle Worker, again with playwright Gibson and director Penn. She won another Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress. It was such a success, they made a movie, and Anne won the Academy Award for Best Actress.

In 1964 she received a nomination for her roles in The Pumpkin Eater, a 1964 British drama film directed by Jack Clayton, with Peter Finch and James Mason. During the same year, she married Mel Brooks and their relationship lasted 40 years.

In 1997 she said: “First of all, you have to marry the right person. If you marry the wrong person for the wrong reasons, then no matter how hard you work, it's never going to work, because then you have to completely change yourself, completely change them, completely — by that time, you're both dead. So I think you have to marry for the right reasons, and marry the right person.” And “He understands not only with his brain but with his heart. And that might be called love. Not quite sure, but maybe that's the key.”

In their 40 years together, Anne and Mel appeared in three movies together, To Be or Not to Be, Silent Movie, and Dracula: Dead and Loving It. They had a son, Maximilian, who was born in 1972.

In 1965 she was back on stage opposite Jason Robards in the Broadway production of John Whiting's play The Devils, playing  a medieval nun obsessed with a priest. It ran for a total of 63 performances.

Two years later, she played another unforgettable role, Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate, a 1967 American comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols, opposite Dustin Hoffman. Mrs. Robinson became the role with which Anne was most identified, and decades later she stated "Men still come up to me and tell me 'You were my first sexual fantasy.'" And, in 2003 “I am quite surprised, that with all my work, and some of it is very, very good, that nobody talks about ‘The Miracle Worker’. We're talking about Mrs. Robinson. I understand the world... I'm just a little dismayed that people aren't beyond it yet.”

Anne's other acclaimed movies as a lead actress include The Turning Point (1977), Agnes of God (1985), Young Winston (1972), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975), To Be or Not to Be (1983), and 84 Charing Cross Road (1987).

There are always good parts. They may not pay what you want, and they may not have as many days' work as you want, they may not have the billing that you want, they may not have a lot of things, but — the content of the role itself — I find there are many roles.” Anne said in an Associated Press interview in 1997.

Later in her career, she made the transition back to supporting roles in theatrical films such as Point of No Return (1993), Home for the Holidays (1995), Great Expectations (1998), Antz (1998), Keeping the Faith (2000), and Heartbreakers (2001).

During her life, she acted in 85 films and television shows, an eight plays. Anne died of cancer, in 2005. Among her survivors were her mother Mildred, her husband of 40 years, Mel Brooks, and their son Max Brooks.