Obie Award for Distinguished Performance by an Actress

Last updated
Obie Award for Best Actress
Awarded forBest Performance by an Actress in a Off-Broadway or Off-Off Broadway production
LocationUnited States New York City
Presented by The Village Voice
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The Obie Award for Distinguished Performance by an Actress was first presented in 1956. The award has no nominees and there is no set number of winners per year. Each performance listed by year below was given an award and they are listed in no particular order. The award can be for a lead or supporting performance and in a play or musical. On occasion, the Obie Awards committee will give an actress an award for sustained excellence of performance to recognize their contributions to Off-Broadway theatre. There is also a separate ensemble award given to recognize entire casts without singling out a particular performer, as they have below. On occasion, the committee gives an actress an award for sustained lifetime achievement, listings for which are also included below. The Obie Award is for performances Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway in New York City only, and is one of the most respected theatre awards given in the United States. [1] [2] In 2014, Sydney Lucas became the youngest winner in OBIE history, at age 10. [3] ‡ – indicates the performance was also nominated for the Tony Award after transferring to Broadway.



YearWinnersPlay / MusicalCharacter
1956 Peggy McCay Uncle Vanya Sofia
Shirlee Emmons The Mother of Us All Susan B. Anthony
Nancy Wickwire The Cherry Orchard Varya
Julie Bovasso The Maids Claire
Frances Sternhagen The Admirable BashvilleLydia Carew
1957Betty Miller Exiles Beatrice
Marguerite Lenert The House of BreathGranny Ganchion
Colleen Dewhurst The Taming of the Shrew & The Eagle Has Two Heads & CamilleKate / The Queen / Marguerite Gautier
Jutta Wolf Exiles Bertha
1958Grania O'MalleyGuests of the NationKate O'Connell
Nydia Westman Endgame Nell
Anne Meacham Garden District Catharine Holly
Tammy Grimes ClerambardThe Flounder
1959 Nancy Wickwire A Clearing in the WoodsVirginia
Kathleen Maguire The Time of the Cuckoo Leona Samish
Anne Fielding Ivanov Sasha
Rosina Fernhoff Fashion & The Geranium HatGertrude / Anne-Betty


YearWinnersPlay / MusicalCharacter
1960 Eileen Brennan Little Mary Sunshine Mary Potts
Patricia Falkenhain Peer Gynt & Henry IV, Part 1 The Greenclad Woman / Doll Tearsheet
Elisa LotiCome Share My House
Nancy Marchand The Balcony Irma
1961 Joan Hackett Call Me By My Rightful Name Chris
Gerry Jedd She Stoops to Conquer Kate Hardcastle
Surya Kamari The King of the Dark Chamber Queen Sudarshana
Anne Meacham Hedda Gabler Hedda Gabler
1962 Ruth White Happy Days Winnie
Sudie BondTheatre of the AbsurdNell
Barbara Harris Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You Rosalie
Rosemary Harris The Tavern & The School for Scandal & The Seagull Virginia / Lady Teazle / Nina
Vinnette Carroll Moon on a Rainbow ShawlSophia
1963 Olympia Dukakis A Man's a Man Leocadia Begbick
Madeleine Sherwood Hey You, Light Man!Lula Roca
Jacqueline Brookes Six Characters in Search of an Author The Step/Daughter
Anne Jackson The Typists & The TigerSylvia Payton / Gloria Fiske
Colleen Dewhurst Desire Under the Elms Abbie Putnam
1964 Gloria Foster In White AmericaClaudette Nevins
Marian Seldes The Ginger ManMiss Frost
Lee Grant The Maids Solange
Joyce Ebert The Trojan Women Andromache
Estelle Parsons Next Time I'll Sing to You & In the Summer HouseLizzie / Gertrude Eastman Cuevas
Diana Sands The Living Premise in Living ColorVarious Characters
1965 Sada Thompson Tartuffe Dorine
Rosemary Harris Judith & Man and Superman & War and PeaceJudith / Violet Robinson / Natasha Rostova
Margaret DePriest The Place for ChanceVarious Characters
Frances Sternhagen The Room & A Slight Ache Rose / Flora
1966 Clarice Blackburn The Exhaustion of Our Son's LoveSara Calendar
Florence TarlowRed Cross & Istanbul & A Beautiful DayThe Maid / – / Various Characters
Jane White Coriolanus & Love's Labour's Lost Volumnia / Princess of France
Mari-Claire CharbaBirdbathVelma Sparrow
Sharon Gans Soon Jack November
Gloria Foster Medea Medea
1967 Bette Henritze Measure for Measure & The Long Christmas Dinner & Queens of France & The Displaced Person & The Rimers of Eldritch & All's Well That Ends Well Mariana / Ermengarde / Mademoiselle Pointevin / Mrs. Shortley / Mary Windrod / Mariana
1968 Peggy Pope MuzeekaEvelyn Landis
Mari Gorman The Memorandum & Walking to WaldheimMaria / Zelda Sher
Billie DixonThe Beard Harlow
1969 Arlene Rothlein The Poor Little Match GirlGirl
Julie Bovasso Gloria and EsperanzaGloria B. Gilbert
Judith Malina Antigone Antigone


YearWinnersPlay / MusicalCharacter
1970 Rue McClanahan Who's Happy Now?Faye Precious
Sada Thompson The Effect of Gamma Rays Beatrice Hunsdorfer
Roberta Maxwell A Whistle In the Dark Betty Carney
Pamela Payton-Wright The Effect of Gamma Rays Matilda "Tillie" Hunsdorfer
Fredricka Weber The Last Sweet Days of Isaac Ingrid / Alice
1971 Ruby Dee Boesman and Lena Lena
Margaret BraidwoodSavedMary
Joan MacIntoshCommuneBig Time Clementine
Susan Batson AC/DCSadie
1972 Elizabeth Wilson Sticks and Bones Harriet ‡
Jeanne HeppleThe Reliquary of Mr. and Mrs. PotterfieldChloe Potterfield
Marilyn Chris KaddishNaomi Livergant Ginsberg
Kathleen Widdoes The Beggar's Opera Polly Peachum
Salome Bey Love Me, Love My ChildrenVarious Characters
Marilyn Sokol The Beggar's Opera Lucy Lockit
1973 Alice Playten National Lampoon Lemmings Various Characters
Jessica Tandy Not I The Mouth
Mari Gorman The Hot l Baltimore Jackie
Lola Pashalinski CornLola-Lola
Roxie Roker The River Niger Mattie Williams ‡
1974 Barbara Barrie The KilldeerSparky
Loretta GreeneThe SirensPepper
Barbara Montgomery My Sister, My SisterMama
Elizabeth Sturges When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? Angel
Conchata Ferrell The Sea HorseGertrude Blum
Zypora Spaisman Stempenyu
1975 Cara Duff-MacCormick Craig's Wife Harriet Craig
Tovah Feldshuh Yentl Yentl ‡
Priscilla SmithFragments of a Greek Trilogy Medea / Electra / Andromache
Tanya Berezin The Mound BuildersD. K. Eriksen
1976Crystal FieldDay Old Bread
Kate ManheimRhoda in PotatolandRhoda
Pamela Payton-Wright Jesse and the Bandit Queen Belle Starr
June Gable The Comedy of Errors Adriana
Priscilla Smith The Good Woman of Szechwan Shen Te
Joyce AaronAcademics
Priscilla Lopez A Chorus Line Diana Morales ‡
1977 Marian Seldes Isadora Duncan Sleeps with the Russian Navy Isadora Duncan
Jo HendersonLadyhouse BluesLiz
Lucinda Childs Einstein on the Beach Various Characters
Anne DeSalvo Gemini Lucille Grande
Roberta Maxwell AshesAnne
Lola Pashalinski Der Ring Gott Farblonjet Brunnhilda
Margaret WrightA ManoirA Woman in White
1978 Swoosie Kurtz Uncommon Women and Others Rita Altabel
Kaiulani Lee Safe House
Alma Cuervo Uncommon Women and Others Holly Kaplan
Nell Carter Ain't Misbehavin Nell ‡
1979 Mary Alice Julius Caesar & Nongogo Portia / Queeny
Elizabeth Wilson Taken in MarriageAunt Helen
Constance Cummings Wings Emily Stilson ‡


YearWinnersPlay / MusicalCharacter
1980 Lindsay Crouse Reunion & Dark Pony & The Sanctity of MarriageCarol Mindler / Daughter / Wife
Hattie Winston Mother Courage and Her Children & The MichiganYvette Pottier / –
Elizabeth Franz Sister Mary Ignatius Explains & The Actor's Nightmare Sister Mary Ignatius / Sarah Siddons
Dianne Wiest The Art of Dining Elizabeth Barrow Colt
Madeleine le Rouxla Justice
1981 Meryl Streep Alice in Concert Alice
Michele ShayMeetingsJean
Mary Beth Hurt Crimes of the Heart Meg MaGrath ‡
Mary McDonnell Still LifeCheryl
1982 Carole Shelley Twelve DreamsDorothy Trowbridge
Irene Worth The Chalk Garden Miss Madrigal
Christine Estabrook PastoraleRachel
E. Katherine Kerr Cloud Nine Ellen / Mrs. Saunders
1983 Glenn Close The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs Albert Nobbs
Christine Baranski A Midsummer Night's Dream Helena
Ruth Maleczech HajjThe Woman
1984 Kathy Baker Fool for Love May
Ruth Maleczech Through the LeavesAnnette
Pamela Reed for sustained excellence of performance
Sheila Dabney Sarita Sarita
Dianne Wiest Serenading Louie & Other Places Gabby / Deborah
1985 Laurie Metcalf Balm in Gilead Darlene
Frances Foster for sustained excellence of performance
Meredith Monk for sustained excellence of performance
1986 Norma Aleandro About Love and Other Stories About LoveVarious Characters
Jill Eikenberry Lemon Sky & Life Under WaterRonnie / Jinkx
Elizabeth Wilson AnteroomFay Leland
Kathryn Pogson Aunt Dan and Lemon Lemon
Helen Stenborg Talley & Son Netta Talley
Elisabeth Welch Time to Start Living Various Characters
Swoosie Kurtz The House of Blue Leaves Bananas Shaughnessy ‡
1987 Robin Bartlett The Early GirlJean
Dana Ivey Driving Miss Daisy Daisy Werthan
Laura Hicks On the Verge Alexandra Cafuffle
Gcina Mhlope Born in the RSASindiswa
Clarice Taylor Moms Moms Mabley
1988 Kathy Bates Frankie and Johnny Frankie
Yvonne Bryceland The Road to Mecca Miss Helen
Tina ShepardThe Three Lives of Lucie CabrolLucie Cabrol
Gordana RashovichA Shayna MaidelLusia Weiss Pechenik
Lauren Tom American NotesPauline
Peggy Shaw Dress Suits to Hire Deeluxe
Amy Irving The Road to Mecca Elsa Barlow
1989 Kathy Najimy The Kathy and Mo Show: Parallel LivesVarious Characters
Irene Worth for sustained lifetime achievement
Nancy Marchand The Cocktail Hour Ann
Gloria Foster The Forbidden CityMolly Hoffenburg
Mo Gaffney The Kathy and Mo Show: Parallel LivesVarious Characters


YearWinnersPlay / MusicalCharacter
1990 Lillias White Romance in Hard Times Hennie
Mary Shultzfor sustained excellence of performance
Isabell MonkLearGloucester
Jean Stapleton The Birthday Party & Mountain Language Meg Bowles / Elderly Woman
Ruth Maleczech LearLear
Danitra Vance SpunkVarious Characters
Pamala TysonImperceptible Mutabilities in the Third KingdomVeronica / Us-seer / Aretha / Mrs. Smith
Karen Evans-KandelLearEdna
Marcia Jean Kurtz The Loman Family Picnic & When She DancedDoris Loman / Miss Belzer
Elżbieta Czyżewska Crowbar
1991 Kathleen Widdoes Tower of Evil Margaret of Burgundy
Joan Copeland The American Plan Eva Adler
Jan Leslie HardingSincerity ForeverFurball #2
Anne Pitoniak Pygmalion Mrs. Higgins
Jodie Markell Machinal The Young Woman
Stockard Channing Six Degrees of Separation Ouisa Kittredge ‡
Angela Goethals The Good Times are Killing MeEdna Arkins
Eileen Atkins A Room of One's Own Virginia Woolf
1992 Lynne Thigpen Boesman and Lena Lena
Cherry Jones The Baltimore Waltz Anna
S. Epatha Merkerson I'm Not StupidMother
Deborah Hedwall Sight Unseen Patricia
Laura Esterman Marvin's Room Bessie
Ofelia Gonzalesfor sustained excellence of performance
Randy Dansonfor sustained excellence of performance
Anna Deavere Smith Fires in the Mirror Various Characters
1993 Jane Alexander The Sisters Rosensweig Sara Goode ‡
Míriam Colón for sustained excellence of performance
Frances Conroy The Last Yankee Patricia Hamilton
Hallie Foote Nightingale & Spring DanceAnnie Gayle Long
Ellen Parker for sustained excellence of performance
Linda StephensWingsEmily Stilson
1994 Myra Carter Three Tall Women A
Judith Ivey The Moonshot TapeDiane
Holly Hughes for sustained excellence of performance
Alice Playten First Lady Suite Mamie Eisenhower / Lady Bird Johnson
Carolee Carmello Hello Again The Young Wife
Anna Deavere Smith Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 Various Characters ‡
Gail Grate The America Play Lucy
Claudia Shear Blown Sideways Through LifeVarious Characters
1995 Mary Beth Peil The Naked Truth & A Cheever Evening & Missing PersonsNan Bemiss / Various Characters / Addie Pencke
Linda Lavin Hotline & Central Park WestDorothy / Carol
Kristine Nielsen Dog OperaMadeline Newell
Eileen Atkins Vita and Virginia Virginia Woolf
Barbara Eda-Young Slavs! Mrs. Domik / First Babushka
Felicity Huffman The Cryptogram Donny
Joanna Adler The Boys in the Basement
Camryn Manheim Missing PersonsGemma Calabrese
Vanessa Redgrave Vita and Virginia Vita Sackville-West
1996 Mary Louise Wilson Full Gallop Diana Vreeland
Uta Hagen for sustained lifetime achievement
Terri KlausnerBed and SofaLudmilla
Adina Porter VenusMrs. Sartje Baartman / The Venus Hottentot
Lisa Gay Hamilton Valley SongVeronica Jonkers
Virginia RambalThe Elf Lady & Troy of AmericaAngela / -
Kathleen Chalfant for sustained excellence in performance-
Marty Pottenger City Water Tunnel #3Various Characters
1997Karen Evans-KandelPeter and WendyThe Narrator
Mary-Louise Parker How I Learned to Drive Li'l Bit
Tsai Chin Golden Child Eng Siu-Yong
Jennifer Dundas Good as NewMaggie
Sharon Scruggs The Trojan Women Cassandra
Ching Valdes-AranFlipzoidsAying
Joanne Campfor sustained excellence of performance
1998 Adriane Lenox Dinah WasMama Jones
Marie Mullen The Beauty Queen of Leenane Maureen Folan ‡
J. Smith-Cameron As Bees In Honey Drown Alexa Vere de Vere
Lea DeLaria On the Town Hildy Esterhazy
Yvette Freeman Dinah Was Dinah Washington
Elizabeth Marvel Misalliance & Thérèse Raquin Lina Szczepanowska / Thérèse Raquin
Mary Testa On the Town & From AboveMadame Maude P. Dilly ‡ / Roz
Kate Valk for sustained excellence of performance
Joan MacIntosh More Stately Mansions Deborah Harford
Heather GillespieMamba's DaughtersHagar
Karen Finley The American ChestnutVarious Characters
1999 Kristine Nielsen Betty's Summer Vacation Mrs. Siezmagraff
Swoosie Kurtz The Mineola Twins Myra / Myrna
Kathleen Chalfant W;t Vivian Bearing
Viola Davis Everybody's RubyRuby McCollum
Mina Bern for sustained excellence of performance
Peggy Shaw Menopausal GentlemanVarious Characters
Carmelita Tropicana for sustained excellence of performance
Lisa Kron 2.5 Minute Ride Lisa


YearWinnersPlay / MusicalCharacter
2000 Eileen Heckart The Waverly GalleryGladys Green
Debra Monk The Time of the Cuckoo Leona Samish
Cynthia Hopkins Another Telepathic ThingThe Narrator
Elizabeth Marvel A Streetcar Named Desire Blanche Dubois
Lynne Thigpen Jar the FloorLola
Charlayne Woodard In the Blood Hester
Lola Pashalinski Gertrude and Alice Gertrude Stein
Deb Margolin for sustained excellence of performance
Dominique DibbellJet LagLincoln
2001 Mary-Louise Parker Proof Catherine ‡
Pamela Isaacs NewyorkersVarious Characters
Jackie Hoffman The Book of LizVarious Characters
Janie Dee Comic Potential Jacie Triplethree
Stephanie BerryThe Shaneequa ChroniclesShaneequa
Marian Seldes for sustained lifetime achievement
2002 Elaine Stritch Elaine Stritch At Liberty Elaine
Martha Plimpton Hobson's Choice Maggie Hobson
Yvette GanierBreath, BoomPrix
Linda Emond Homebody/KabulThe Homebody
Juliana Francis Maria del BoscoMaria
2003 Rosemary Harris All Over The Wife
Fiona Shaw Medea Medea
2004 Jayne Houdyshell Well Ann Kron ‡
Viola Davis Intimate Apparel Esther
Lili Taylor Aunt Dan and Lemon Lemon
Zilah MendozaLiving OutAna Hernandez
Tonya Pinkins Caroline, or Change Caroline Thibodeaux ‡
Sarah Jones Bridge and Tunnel Various Characters ‡
Lisa Emery IronFay
Maude MitchellMaybou Mines DollHouse Nora Helmer
2005 Elizabeth Marvel Hedda Gabler Hedda Gabler
Rosemary AllenGood SamaritansRosemary
Mercedes Ruehl Woman Before a Glass Peggy Guggenheim
Cherry Jones Doubt Sister Aloysius Beauvier ‡
Deirdre O'Connell for sustained excellence of performance
Vivienne Benesch Going to St. IvesCora Gage
LaChanze Dessa Rose Dessa Rose
L. Scott Caldwell Going to St. IvesMary N'Kame
2006 Lois Smith The Trip to Bountiful Carrie Watts
Sherie Rene Scott Landscape of the Body Rosalie
Julie White The Little Dog Laughed Diane ‡
Dana Ivey Mrs. Warren's Profession Kitty Warren
Christine Ebersole Grey Gardens Edith Bouvier Beale ‡
Meg MacCaryWhat ThenDiane
S. Epatha Merkerson Birdie BlueBirdie Blue
Marin Ireland CycloneErin
2007Roslyn Ruff Seven Guitars Vera
Nina HellmanTrouble in ParadiseLily
Betsy Aidem for sustained excellence of performance
Nancy Opel My DeahMy Deah Hedgepeth / Lillie V
Donna Lynne Champlin The Dark at the Top of the Stairs Cora Flood
Nilaja SunNo ChildVarious Characters
2008 Veanne Cox for sustained excellence of performance
Rebecca Wisocky Amazons and Their MenThe Frau
Lisa Gay Hamilton Ohio State MurdersSuzanne Alexander
Kate Mulgrew Iphigenia 2.o Clytemnestra
Heidi Schreck Drum of the Waves of HorikawaVarious Characters
2009Birgit HuppuchTelephoneMiss St
Saidah Arrika Ekulona Ruined Mama Nadi


YearWinnersPlay / MusicalCharacter
2010 Laurie Metcalf A Lie of the Mind Meg
Juliet Rylance As You Like It Rosalind
2011Brenda Wehle The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide To... Clio
Charlayne Woodard The Witch of Edmonton Elizabeth Sawyer
Laurie Metcalf The Other PlaceJuliana ‡
2012Cherise BoothMilk Like SugarTalisha
Mary Louise Wilson 4000 MilesVera Joseph
Linda Lavin The Lyons Rita Lyons ‡
Susan Parfour Tribes Sylvia
2013 Lois Smith for sustained lifetime achievement
Frances Sternhagen for sustained lifetime achievement
Eisa Davisfor sustained excellence of performance
2014 Estelle Parsons for sustained lifetime achievement
Johanna Day AppropriateAntoinette 'Toni' Lafayette
Marylouise Burke for sustained excellence of performance
Sydney Lucas Fun Home Small Allison Bechdel
Mia Katigbak Awake and Sing! Bessie Berger
2015Brooke BloomYou Got OlderMae
April Matthisfor sustained excellence of performance
2016 Emily Donahoe The ChristiansJenny
Georgia Engel JohnMertis Katherine Graven
Jayne Houdyshell The Humans Deirdre Blake ‡
Tamara Tunie FamiliarMarvelous
2017Kecia LewisMarie and Rosetta Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Heather MacRae Come Back, Little Sheba Lola Delaney
Amy Ryan Love, Love, LoveSandra
2018 Carrie Coon Mary JaneMary Jane
Dame-Jasmine HughesIs God IsRacine
Denise Gough People, Places & Things Emma
Jessica Hecht AdmissionsSherri Rosen-Mason
2019Cherise Booth Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine Undine Barnes Calles
Heather Simms Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine Grandma / Caseworker / Inmate / Dr.Khdair
Mia BarronHurricane DianeCarol Fleischer
Quincy Tyler Bernstine for sustained excellence of performance
2020April MathisToni Stone Toni Stone
Deirdre O'Connell Dana H.Dana Higginbotham
Elizabeth Rodriguez Halfway Bitches Go Straight to HeavenMiss Rivera
Emily DavisIs This A RoomReality Winner
Liza Colón-Zayas Halfway Bitches Go Straight to HeavenSarge
Vinie Burrows for sustained lifetime achievement

Winners of more than one award

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