Joan Copeland

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Joan Copeland
Copeland in 2011
Joan Maxine Miller

(1922-06-01)June 1, 1922
New York City, U.S.
DiedJanuary 4, 2022(2022-01-04) (aged 99)
New York City, U.S.
Years active1945–2011
George J. Kupchik
(m. 1946; died 1989)
RelativesArthur Miller (brother)
Rebecca Miller (niece)

Joan Maxine Kupchik (née Miller; June 1, 1922 – January 4, 2022), known professionally as Joan Copeland, was an American actress. She was the younger sister of playwright Arthur Miller. She began her career during the mid-1940s, appearing in theatre in New York City, where, shortly thereafter, she would become one of the first members admitted to the newly formed Actors Studio.[1] She moved into television and film during the 1950s while still maintaining an active stage career. She is best known for her performances in the 1977 Broadway revival of Pal Joey and her award-winning performance in the 1981 play The American Clock. She also played a number of prominent roles on various soap operas throughout her career, including Andrea Whiting on Search for Tomorrow and Gwendolyn Lord Abbott on One Life to Live. She voiced Tanana in Brother Bear.

Personal life[edit]

Miller was born to a middle-class Jewish family in New York City. Her father, Isidore, was a woman's clothes manufacturer, and her mother, Augusta (née Barnett), was a schoolteacher and a housewife. She was the younger sister of Kermit Miller and playwright Arthur Miller and was briefly sister-in-law to Marilyn Monroe, with whom she shared a birthday. She was married to George J. Kupchik, an engineer, from 1946 until his death in 1989. She had a son named Eric with him.[2]

Copeland died at her home in Manhattan on January 4, 2022, at the age of 99.[3]


Copeland began her career in the theatre, making her professional debut as Juliet in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1945. She made her Broadway debut as Nadine in the original 1948 production of Bessie Breuer's Sundown Beach. Thereafter she maintained an active career in the theatre. Her other Broadway credits include Detective Story (1949), Not for Children (1951), Handful of Fire (1958), Tovarich (1963), Something More! (1964), The Price (1968), Coco (1969), Two By Two (1970), Checking Out (1976), 45 Seconds from Broadway (2002), and Wit & Wisdom (2003), among others.

She worked extensively Off-Broadway in New York City. Her notable credits therein include Desdemona in Othello at the Equity Library Theatre (1946), Betty Shapiro in The Grass is Greener at the Downtown National Theatre (1955), Melanie in Conversation Piece at the Barbizon-Plaza Theatre (1957), Mrs. Erlynne in Delightful Season at the Gramercy Arts Theatre (1960), Leonie Frothingham in End of Summer at the Manhattan Theatre Club (1974), Lillian Hellman in Are You Now or Have You Ever Been at the Promenade Theatre (1978), the title role in Candida at the Roundabout Theatre (1979), Tasha Blumberg in Isn't It Romantic? at the Playwrights Horizons (1983), Mrs. Thompson in Hunting Cockroaches at the Manhattan Theatre Club (1987), Rose Brill in The Rose Quartet at the Circle Repertory Theatre (1991), Aida Gianelli in Over the River and Through the Woods at the John Houseman Theatre (1998), Nelly Fell in The Torch-Bearers at the Greenwich House Theatre (2000), and as part of a rotating cast in Wit & Wisdom at the Arclight Theatre (2003).[4] She won an Obie Award in 1991 for her portrayal of Eva Adler in The American Plan at the Manhattan Theatre Club.

Copeland began working in television in the early 1950s as a guest actress on such shows as Suspense and The Web and on the live telecast of O'Neill's play The Iceman Cometh in 1960. She appeared on numerous soap operas. She portrayed Andrea Whiting (Joanne's daughter, Patti's malevolent former mother in-law) on Search for Tomorrow, twin sisters Maggie and Kay Logan on Love of Life, and roles on The Edge of Night, How to Survive a Marriage, and As the World Turns. She also portrayed Gwendolyn Lord Abbott on One Life to Live from 1978–1979,[5] and later returned to the series to play Selma Hanen in 1995. Between 1993-1997 she portrayed the recurring character of Judge Rebecca Stein on Law & Order. Her other television credits include guest appearances on The Patty Duke Show, Chicago Hope, ER, All in the Family, and Naked City.

Copeland made her first film appearance as Alice Marie in The Goddess (1958). Her film career was sporadic and her appearances have been almost exclusively in prominent secondary roles. Her film credits include Middle of the Night (1959), Roseland (1977), It's My Turn (1980), A Little Sex (1982), Happy New Year (1987), The Laser Man (1988), Her Alibi (1989), Jungle 2 Jungle (1997), The Peacemaker (1997), The Object of My Affection (1998), The Adventures of Sebastian Cole (1998), The Audrey Hepburn Story (2000), The Last Request (2006), and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009). She also voiced Tanana in Disney's Brother Bear (2003).

In December 2014, Copeland was invited, along with Broadway actor-singer Jamie Ross by The Noel Coward Society to lay flowers on the statue of Sir Noël Coward at The Gershwin Theatre in Manhattan to celebrate the 115th anniversary of Coward's birthday.[citation needed]

Copeland was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for the 1976 production of Pal Joey and won a Drama Desk Award in 1981 for The American Clock.[citation needed]


Year Title Role Notes
1958 The Goddess[6][7] Alice Marie
1959 Middle of the Night[6][7] Lillian Englander
1977 Roseland[6][7] Pauline "The Hustle"
1980 It's My Turn[7][8] Rita
1982 A Little Sex[6][7] Mrs. Harrison
1987 Happy New Year[7][8] Sunny Felix
1988 The Laser Man[7][9] Ruth Weiss
1989 Her Alibi[7][8] Audrey
1997 Jungle 2 Jungle[8][9] Mrs. Prelot
The Peacemaker[6][8] Senator Bevens
1998 The Object of My Affection[8][9] Madame Reynolds
The Adventures of Sebastian Cole[8][9] Grandma Cole
2003 Brother Bear[6][8] Tanana Voice
2004 Koda's Outtakes Video short (Uncredited)
2006 The Last Request Alice Rudolf
2009 The Private Lives of Pippa Lee[9] Piano player
2011 Love Is Like Life But Longer Old nun Short film (final film role)


  1. ^ Robert Lewis (1996) [1984]. "Actors Studio, 1947". Slings and Arrows: Theater in My Life. New York: Applause Books. p. 183. ISBN 1-55783-244-7. At the end of the summer, on Gadget's return from Hollywood, we settled the roster of actors for our two classes in what we called the Actors Studio - using the word 'studio' as we had when we named our workshop in the Group, the Group Theatre Studio. Kazan's people met twice a week and included, among others, Julie Harris, Jocelyn Brando, Cloris Leachman, James Whitmore, Joan Copeland, Steven Hill, Lou Gilbert, Rudy Bond, Anne Hegira, Peg Hillias, Lenka Peterson, Edward Binns, and Tom Avera.
  2. ^ Wahls, Robert (July 18, 1976). "Footlights: Perseverance Counts". New York Daily News. p. 216. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  3. ^ "Joan Copeland, Stage Actress and Sister of Arthur Miller, Dies at 99". January 4, 2022.
  4. ^ "Wit & Wisdom - Off-Broadway - Tickets, Reviews, Info and More". Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  5. ^ Schemering, Christopher (September 1985). The Soap Opera Encyclopedia (1st ed.). pp. 158–166. ISBN 0-345-32459-5.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Joan Copeland". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Joan Copeland". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "Joan Copeland – Filmography". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Joan Copeland". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on December 21, 2017. Retrieved January 5, 2022.

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