Broadway star and three-time Tony nominee Rebecca Luker has died at age 59.
The actress, who starred in revivals of The Sound Of Music and The Music Man, passed away at a Manhattan hospital on Wednesday, reports The New York Times.
A decorated theater veteran, Luker has received Tony nominations for her roles in Mary Poppins, The Music Man, and Show Boat.
Luker’s health had been making news in recent months, with the actress contracting COVID-19 in the midst of her battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
Broadway star and three-time Tony nominee Rebecca Luker has died at age 59
The actress revealed in February she had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and was in a wheelchair by October.
‘Many of you have reached out to ask how I’m doing, so I thought I’d make this video to bring you up to date.… Since my appearance for Project ALS in June, I have progressed,’ she said in a video, asking fans to email their congressmen in the continued fight against ALS.
‘My limbs have all gotten worse, and, of course, I’m in this wheelchair… Time is not on my side, and I need help now.’
Luker made her Broadway debut in 1988 in the The Phantom Of The Opera.
‘Time is not on my side’: The actress revealed in February she had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and was in a wheelchair by October
Subsequent roles included Magnolia in Show Boat, Maria Rainer in The Sound Of Music, Marian Paroo in The Music Man, Winifred Banks in Mary Poppins, and Marie in Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.
The last time Luker performed was over Zoom for a pre-recorded benefit performance of At Home With Rebecca Luker over the summer.
‘When I sing, I think it heals me. It helps me feel like I’m still a part of something, like I’m doing something that’s worthwhile and not just languishing in a wheelchair,’ she told the NY Times not long before the performance.
Luker married fellow Broadway actor Danny Burstein in 2000, and became a stepmother to his two sons from a previous marriage, Alexander and Zachary.
‘When I sing, I think it heals me. It helps me feel like I’m still a part of something,’ Luker previously told the NY Times
Tributes: Actress Laura Benanti remembered the late actress with a photo of her in The Sound Of Music
The couple both battled the coronavirus this past year, and Burstein described their experiences with the disease in a story for The Hollywood Reporter over the summer.
The Tony nominee, 56, was in the hospital for nearly a week at the time, but his struggles continued upon returning home, with his wife subsequently becoming infected with the virus as well.
‘I was recovering and Becca was just starting her own bout with the virus,’ Burstein writes in the new column.
They’re fighters: Broadway actor Danny Burstein shared his experiences battling COVID-19 with wife Rebecca Luker in a story done for The Hollywood Reporter
‘No health care worker in their right mind would come to our home as we were both suffering with the aftereffects of the coronavirus. We were very much on our own,’ he continued.
‘The next month was spent pretty much alone in isolation. Despite being dizzy and in a constant state of exhaustion, I was somehow able to care for her.’
Danny also mentioned that their son Zach, 24, was not there to help as he had moved out of the family’s New York City home in an effort to protect all those involved from potential infection.
‘I was recovering and Becca was just starting her own bout with the virus,’ Burstein writes in his new column; seen here in January
The six-time Tony nominee shared further details.
‘I walked to the market at midnight every other night to shop for food when the store was fairly empty. Becca suffered through my terrible cooking. She sweetly never said anything bad about the experimental slop I threw in front of her at dinner.’
Danny went on to share that thankfully, Rebecca’s ’bout [with the virus] lasted only about a week,’ involving ‘three days of a mild fever and lost her sense of taste and smell, common symptoms of the illness, but was otherwise OK.’
On stage: The six-time Tony nominee shared further details about caring for his wife while recovering from COVID-19; seen in Moulin Rouge! The Musical in July 2019
As for his own recovery: It was slow-going, with lingering symptoms as it has been for many survivors of COVID-19
As for his own recovery, it was slow-going, with lingering symptoms as it has been for many survivors of COVID-19.
‘It took me over two months before I could walk two or three blocks without feeling winded. I was terrified my lungs wouldn’t recover. I feel it’s a bit of a miracle that they have,’ he shared.
And even though Danny and Rebecca have recovered from the virus, Burstein shared that unfortunately, his wife’s underlying condition ‘has been getting worse quite rapidly.
Screen performer: Even though Danny and Rebecca have recovered from the virus, Burstein shared that unfortunately, his wife’s underlying condition ‘has been getting worse quite rapidly’; Rebecca seen in NCIS: New Orleans opposite Lucas Black
‘Her shoulders went, seemingly overnight. And now her hands,’ he shared, observing the eventual and inevitable paralysis that comes with ALS. ‘Their shape has changed, especially the left. But the right one is starting to curl in the same unusual fashion.
‘I try to stretch them back into a familiar position and she says it feels good, but they fall back into their new shape.’
The thespian also expressed distress at the larger picture of the virus and its fallout, especially with regard to the theater community in New York City.
‘Saddest of all, several dear friends have passed away, gutting me while also making me feel unbelievably grateful to be alive,’ Danny wrote, referencing victims of the virus like fellow Broadway actor Nick Cordero, who died at age 41 last month after over 90 days in the hospital as a result of coronavirus complications.
‘In the news, there are daily reminders of my hospital stay, and it hurts to hear about the rising numbers of deaths and positive tests.’
As of now: The coronavirus pandemic continues to surge in many parts of the United States as well as the world at large