Actress Frances Sternhagen has passed away from natural causes at the age of 93. If you don’t think you know who Sternhagen is, you are probably wrong. She has appeared in multiple television series and films, as far back as 1951.
Sternhagen appeared on television in popular shows such as Cheers, Sex and the City, Law and Order, The Simpsons, ER, Becker and The Closer. She also appeared in some pretty great horror and thriller films, including three Stephen King adaptations.
Frances Sternhagen was featured in the following horror projects:
Misery – In this Stephen King adaptation, writer Paul Sheldon is injured in a car crash. Annie Wilkes, who professes to be his “biggest fan” takes him to her house to recover from his injuries, and ends up imprisoning him while forcing him to write a novel just for her. Meanwhile, local law enforcement is searching for the missing author. Sternhagen played Deputy Virginia.
The Mist – Based on a novella by King, this film featured one of the biggest gut punch endings of any horror film. When a strange mist rolls into town, a group of citizens find themselves trapped in a supermarket while all sorts of terrifying creatures try to get to them. Frances Sternhagen play school teacher Irene, who manages to escape the grocery store with a few others.
Golden Years – A seven-part miniseries, this was another Stephen King project. When an elderly janitor named Harlan is present during an explosion at a mysterious lab, he is exposed to something that causes him to start aging in reverse. Agents from “The Shop” (also referenced in Firestarter) want to find Harlan, and he ends up on the run. Sternhagen played the role of Harlan’s wife Gina.
Tales From the Crypt – During season four of the series, Sternhagen appeared in an episode titled None But the Lonely Heart. She played a potential victim of a killer who has a habit of marrying rich widows, then murdering them and stealing their money.
Communion – A New York author played by Christopher Walken becomes convinced that he is being stalked by alien beings. As his sanity begins to suffer, he seeks therapy. Frances Sternhagen plays a psychiatrist who practices hypnosis.
Raising Cain – Dr. Carter Nix (John Lithgow) suffers with multiple personality disorder, and one of his personalities is a vicious killer named Cain, who kills mothers and takes their children. When Nix nearly kills his wife, law enforcement bring in Dr. Lynn Waldheim, played by Sternhagen.
Sternhagen was one of those actors who could play comedy just as effectively as horror, and I will miss seeing her on screen.