Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play

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Tony Award
for Best Actress in a Play
Awarded for Best Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role in a Play
Location United States New York City
Presented by American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League
Currently held by Helen Mirren for The Audience (2015)
Official website

The Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Play is an honor presented at the Tony Awards, a ceremony established in 1947 as the Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theatre. The award is given to actresses for quality leading roles in a Broadway play.[1] Despite the award first being presented in 1947, there were no nominees announced until 1956. There have been two ties in this category, and one three-way tie.

Winners and nominees[edit]


Year Actress Play Character
1st Tony Awards
Ingrid Bergman Joan of Lorraine Mary Grey / Joan of Arc
Helen Hayes Happy Birthday Addie
2nd Tony Awards
Judith Anderson Medea Medea
Katharine Cornell Antony and Cleopatra Cleopatra
Jessica Tandy A Streetcar Named Desire Blanche DuBois
3rd Tony Awards
Martita Hunt The Madwoman of Chaillot Countess Aurelia


Year Actress Play Character
4th Tony Awards
Shirley Booth Come Back, Little Sheba Lola Delaney
5th Tony Awards
Uta Hagen The Country Girl Georgie Elgin
6th Tony Awards
Julie Harris I Am a Camera Sally Bowles
7th Tony Awards
Shirley Booth The Time of the Cuckoo Leona Samish
8th Tony Awards
Audrey Hepburn Ondine Ondine
9th Tony Awards
Nancy Kelly The Bad Seed Christine Penmark
10th Tony Awards
Julie Harris The Lark Joan of Arc
Barbara Bel Geddes Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Maggie Pollitt
Gladys Cooper The Chalk Garden Mrs. St. Maugham
Siobhán McKenna Miss Madrigal
Ruth Gordon The Matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi
Susan Strasberg The Diary of Anne Frank Anne Frank
11th Tony Awards
Margaret Leighton Separate Tables Ann Shankland / Sibyl Railton-Bell
Florence Eldridge Long Day's Journey into Night Mary Tyrone
Rosalind Russell Auntie Mame Mame Dennis
Sybil Thorndike The Potting Shed Mrs. Callifer
12th Tony Awards
Helen Hayes Time Remembered The Duchess of Pont-Au-Bronc
Wendy Hiller A Moon for the Misbegotten Josie Hogan
Siobhán McKenna The Rope Dancers Margaret Hyland
Eugenie Leontovich The Cave Dwellers The Queen
Mary Ure Look Back in Anger Alison Porter
Jo Van Fleet Look Homeward, Angel Eliza Gant
13th Tony Awards
Gertrude Berg A Majority of One Bertha Jacoby
Claudette Colbert The Marriage-Go-Round Content Lowell
Lynn Fontanne The Visit Claire Zachanassian
Kim Stanley A Touch of the Poet Sara Melody
Maureen Stapleton The Cold Wind and the Warm Ida


Year Actress Play Character
14th Tony Awards
Anne Bancroft The Miracle Worker Annie Sullivan
Margaret Leighton Much Ado About Nothing Beatrice
Claudia McNeil A Raisin in the Sun Lena Younger
Geraldine Page Sweet Bird of Youth Alexandra Del Lago
Maureen Stapleton Toys in the Attic Carrie Berniers
Irene Worth Albertine Prine
15th Tony Awards
Joan Plowright A Taste of Honey Josephine
Tallulah Bankhead Midgie Purvis Midgie Purvis
Barbara Baxley Period of Adjustment Isabel Haverstick
Barbara Bel Geddes Mary, Mary Mary McKellaway
16th Tony Awards
Margaret Leighton The Night of the Iguana Hannah Jelkes
Gladys Cooper A Passage to India Mrs. Moore
Colleen Dewhurst Great Day in the Morning Phoebe Flaherty
Kim Stanley A Far Country Elizabeth von Ritter
17th Tony Awards
Uta Hagen Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Martha
Hermione Baddeley The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore Flora Goforth
Margaret Leighton Tchin-Tchin Pamela Pew-Pickett
Claudia McNeil Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright Mama
18th Tony Awards
Sandy Dennis Any Wednesday Ellen Gordon
Elizabeth Ashley Barefoot in the Park Corie Bratter
Colleen Dewhurst The Ballad of the Sad Café Amelia Evans
Julie Harris Marathon '33 June Havoc
19th Tony Awards
Irene Worth Tiny Alice Miss Alice
Marjorie Rhodes All in Good Time Lucy Fitton
Beah Richards The Amen Corner Sister Margaret Alexander
Diana Sands The Owl and the Pussycat Doris
20th Tony Awards
Rosemary Harris The Lion in Winter Eleanor of Aquitaine
Sheila Hancock Entertaining Mr Sloane Kath
Kate Reid Slapstick Tragedy Celeste/Molly
Lee Remick Wait Until Dark Susy Hendrix
21st Tony Awards
Beryl Reid The Killing of Sister George Sister George / June Buckridge
Eileen Atkins The Killing of Sister George Childie / Alice McNaught
Vivien Merchant The Homecoming Ruth
Rosemary Murphy A Delicate Balance Claire
22nd Tony Awards
Zoe Caldwell The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Jean Brodie
Colleen Dewhurst More Stately Mansions Sara (Melody) Harford
Maureen Stapleton Plaza Suite Karen Nash / Murial Tate / Norma Hubley
Dorothy Tutin Portrait of a Queen Queen Victoria
23rd Tony Awards
Julie Harris Forty Carats Ann Stanley
Estelle Parsons The Seven Descents of Myrtle Myrtle
Charlotte Rae Morning, Noon and Night Gertrude / Beryl / Filigree Bones
Brenda Vaccaro The Goodbye People Nancy (Silverman) Scott


Year Actress Play Character
24th Tony Awards
Tammy Grimes Private Lives Amanda Prynne
Geraldine Brooks Brightower Sara Brightower
Helen Hayes Harvey Veta Louise Simmons
25th Tony Awards
Maureen Stapleton The Gingerbread Lady Evy Meara
Estelle Parsons And Miss Reardon Drinks A Little Catherine Reardon
Diana Rigg Abelard and Heloise Heloise
Marian Seldes Father's Day Marian
26th Tony Awards
Sada Thompson Twigs Ma / Dorothy / Celia / Emily
Eileen Atkins Vivat! Vivat Regina! Elizabeth I
Colleen Dewhurst All Over The Mistress
Rosemary Harris Old Times Anna
27th Tony Awards
Julie Harris The Last of Mrs. Lincoln Mary Todd Lincoln
Jane Alexander 6 Rms Riv Vu Annie Miller
Colleen Dewhurst Mourning Becomes Electra Christine Mannon
Kathleen Widdoes Much Ado About Nothing Beatrice
28th Tony Awards
Colleen Dewhurst A Moon for the Misbegotten Josie Hogan
Jane Alexander Find Your Way Home Jacqueline Harrison
Julie Harris The Au Pair Man Elizabeth Rogers
Madeline Kahn In the Boom Boom Room Chrissy
Rachel Roberts The Visit / Chemin de Fer Claire Zachanassian / Francine
29th Tony Awards
Ellen Burstyn Same Time, Next Year Doris
Elizabeth Ashley Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Maggie Pollitt
Diana Rigg The Misanthrope Celimene
Maggie Smith Private Lives Amanda Prynne
Liv Ullmann A Doll's House Nora Helmer
30th Tony Awards
Irene Worth Sweet Bird of Youth Alexandra Del Lago
Tovah Feldshuh Yentl Yentl
Rosemary Harris The Royal Family Julie Cavendish
Lynn Redgrave Mrs. Warren's Profession Vivie Warren
31st Tony Awards
Julie Harris The Belle of Amherst Various Characters
Colleen Dewhurst Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Martha
Liv Ullmann Anna Christie Anna Christopherson
Irene Worth The Cherry Orchard Ranevskaya
32nd Tony Awards
Jessica Tandy The Gin Game Fonsia Dorsey
Anne Bancroft Golda Golda Meir
Anita Gillette Chapter Two Jennie Maclaine
Estelle Parsons Miss Margarida's Way Miss Margarida
33rd Tony Awards
Constance Cummings Wings Emily Stilson
Carole Shelley The Elephant Man Madge Kendal
Jane Alexander First Monday in October Ruth Loomis
Frances Sternhagen On Golden Pond Ethel Thayer


Year Actress Play Character
34th Tony Awards
Phyllis Frelich Children of a Lesser God Sarah Norman
Blythe Danner Betrayal Emma
Maggie Smith Night and Day Ruth Carson
Anne Twomey Nuts Claudia Draper
35th Tony Awards
Jane Lapotaire Piaf Edith Piaf
Glenda Jackson Rose Rose
Elizabeth Taylor The Little Foxes Regina Giddens
Eva Le Gallienne To Grandmother's House We Go Grandie
36th Tony Awards
Zoe Caldwell Medea Medea
Katharine Hepburn The West Side Waltz Margaret Mary Elderdice
Geraldine Page Agnes of God Mother Miriam Ruth
Amanda Plummer A Taste of Honey Josephine
37th Tony Awards
Jessica Tandy Foxfire Annie Nations
Kate Nelligan Plenty Susan Traherne
Kathy Bates 'night, Mother Jessie Cates
Anne Pitoniak Thelma Cates
38th Tony Awards
Glenn Close The Real Thing Annie
Rosemary Harris Heartbreak House Hesione Hushabye
Linda Hunt End of the World Audrey Wood
Kate Nelligan A Moon for the Misbegotten Josie Hogan
39th Tony Awards
Stockard Channing A Day in the Death of Joe Egg Sheila
Sinéad Cusack Much Ado About Nothing Beatrice
Rosemary Harris Pack of Lies Barbara Jackson
Glenda Jackson Strange Interlude Nina Leeds
40th Tony Awards
Lily Tomlin The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe Various Characters
Rosemary Harris Hay Fever Judith Bliss
Mary Beth Hurt Benefactors Sheila
Jessica Tandy The Petition Elizabeth Milne
41st Tony Awards
Linda Lavin Broadway Bound Kate Jerome
Lindsay Duncan Dangerous Liaisons Marquise de Merteuil
Geraldine Page Blithe Spirit Madame Arcati
Amanda Plummer Pygmalion Eliza Doolittle
42nd Tony Awards
Joan Allen Burn This Anna Mann
Blythe Danner A Streetcar Named Desire Blanche DuBois
Glenda Jackson Macbeth Lady Macbeth
Frances McDormand A Streetcar Named Desire Stella Kowalski
43rd Tony Awards
Pauline Collins Shirley Valentine Shirley Valentine
Joan Allen The Heidi Chronicles Heidi Holland
Madeline Kahn Born Yesterday Emma 'Billie' Dawn
Kate Nelligan Spoils of War Elise


Year Actress Play Character
44th Tony Awards
Maggie Smith Lettice and Lovage Lettice Douffet
Geraldine James The Merchant of Venice Portia
Mary-Louise Parker Prelude to a Kiss Rita Boyle
Kathleen Turner Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Maggie Pollitt
45th Tony Awards
Mercedes Ruehl Lost in Yonkers Bella Kurnitz
Stockard Channing Six Degrees of Separation Ouisa Kittredge
Julie Harris Lucifer's Child Karen Blixen
Cherry Jones Our Country's Good Liz Morden / Reverend Johnson
46th Tony Awards
Glenn Close Death and the Maiden Paulina Salas Escobar
Jane Alexander The Visit Claire Zachanassian
Stockard Channing Four Baboons Adoring the Sun Penny McKenzie
Judith Ivey Park Your Car in Harvard Yard Kathleen Hogan
47th Tony Awards
Madeline Kahn The Sisters Rosensweig Gorgeous Teitelbaum
Jane Alexander The Sisters Rosensweig Sara Goode
Lynn Redgrave Shakespeare for My Father Lynn Redgrave
Natasha Richardson Anna Christie Anna Christopherson
48th Tony Awards
Diana Rigg Medea Medea
Joan Rivers Sally Marr...and her escorts Sally Marr
Nancy Marchand The White Liars Mrs. Furnival
Black Comedy Sophie
Anna Deavere Smith Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 Various Characters
49th Tony Awards
Cherry Jones The Heiress Catherine Sloper
Eileen Atkins Indiscretions Léonie
Mary Alice Having Our Say Bessie Delany
Helen Mirren A Month in the Country Natalia Petrovna
50th Tony Awards
Zoe Caldwell Master Class Maria Callas
Carol Burnett Moon Over Buffalo Charlotte Hay
Rosemary Harris A Delicate Balance Agnes
Elaine Stritch Claire
51st Tony Awards
Janet McTeer A Doll's House Nora Helmer
Julie Harris The Gin Game Fonsia Dorsey
Shirley Knight The Young Man From Atlanta Lily Dale Kidder
Lia Williams Skylight Kyra Hollis
52nd Tony Awards
Marie Mullen The Beauty Queen of Leenane Maureen Folan
Jane Alexander Honour Honor
Allison Janney A View from the Bridge Beatrice Carbone
Geraldine McEwan The Chairs Old Woman
53rd Tony Awards
Judi Dench Amy's View Esme Allen
Stockard Channing The Lion in Winter Eleanor of Aquitaine
Marian Seldes Ring Round the Moon Madame Desmermortes
Zoë Wanamaker Electra Electra


Year Actress Play Character
54th Tony Awards
Jennifer Ehle The Real Thing Annie
Jayne Atkinson The Rainmaker Lizzie Curry
Rosemary Harris Waiting in the Wings May Davenport
Cherry Jones A Moon for the Misbegotten Josie Hogan
Claudia Shear Dirty Blonde Jo / Mae West
55th Tony Awards
Mary-Louise Parker Proof Catherine
Juliette Binoche Betrayal Emma
Linda Lavin The Tale of the Allergist's Wife Marjorie Taub
Jean Smart The Man Who Came to Dinner Lorraine Sheldon
Leslie Uggams King Hedley II Ruby
56th Tony Awards
Lindsay Duncan Private Lives Amanda Prynne
Kate Burton Hedda Gabler Hedda Gabler
Laura Linney The Crucible Elizabeth Proctor
Helen Mirren The Dance of Death Alice
Mercedes Ruehl The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? Stevie
57th Tony Awards
Vanessa Redgrave Long Day's Journey into Night Mary Tyrone
Jayne Atkinson Enchanted April Lotty Wilton
Victoria Hamilton A Day in the Death of Joe Egg Sheila
Claire Higgins Vincent in Brixton Ursula Loyler
Fiona Shaw Medea Medea
58th Tony Awards
Phylicia Rashad A Raisin in the Sun Lena Younger
Eileen Atkins The Retreat from Moscow Alice
Tovah Feldshuh Golda's Balcony Golda Meir
Anne Heche Twentieth Century Lily Garland / Mildred Plotka
Swoosie Kurtz Frozen Nancy
59th Tony Awards
Cherry Jones Doubt Sister Aloysius Beauvier
Laura Linney Sight Unseen Patricia
Mary-Louise Parker Reckless Rachel
Phylicia Rashad Gem of the Ocean Aunt Ester
Kathleen Turner Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Martha
60th Tony Awards
Cynthia Nixon Rabbit Hole Becca Corbett
Kate Burton The Constant Wife Constance Culver Middleton
Lynn Redgrave Mrs. Culver
Lisa Kron Well Lisa Kron
Judy Kaye Souvenir Florence Foster Jenkins
61st Tony Awards
Julie White The Little Dog Laughed Diane
Eve Best A Moon for the Misbegotten Josie Hogan
Swoosie Kurtz Heartbreak House Hesione Hushabye
Angela Lansbury Deuce Leona Mullen
Vanessa Redgrave The Year of Magical Thinking Joan Didion
62nd Tony Awards
Deanna Dunagan August: Osage County Violet Weston
Eve Best The Homecoming Ruth
Kate Fleetwood Macbeth Lady Macbeth
S. Epatha Merkerson Come Back, Little Sheba Lola Delaney
Amy Morton August: Osage County Barbara Weston-Fordham
63rd Tony Awards
Marcia Gay Harden God of Carnage Veronica
Hope Davis God of Carnage Annette
Jane Fonda 33 Variations Katherine Brandt
Janet McTeer Mary Stuart Mary Stuart
Harriet Walter Elizabeth I


Year Actress Play Character
64th Tony Awards
Viola Davis Fences Rose Maxson
Valerie Harper Looped Tallulah Bankhead
Linda Lavin Collected Stories Ruth Steiner
Laura Linney Time Stands Still Sarah Goodwin
Jan Maxwell The Royal Family Julie Cavendish
65th Tony Awards
Frances McDormand Good People Margie Walsh
Nina Arianda Born Yesterday Emma 'Billie' Dawn
Lily Rabe The Merchant of Venice Portia
Vanessa Redgrave Driving Miss Daisy Daisy Werthan
Hannah Yelland Brief Encounter Laura Jesson
66th Tony Awards
Nina Arianda Venus in Fur Vanda
Tracie Bennett End of the Rainbow Judy Garland
Stockard Channing Other Desert Cities Polly Wyeth
Linda Lavin The Lyons Rita Lyons
Cynthia Nixon Wit Vivian Bearing
67th Tony Awards
Cicely Tyson The Trip to Bountiful Carrie Watts
Laurie Metcalf The Other Place Juliana Smithton
Amy Morton Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Martha
Kristine Nielsen Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike Sonia
Holland Taylor Ann Ann Richards
68th Tony Awards
Audra McDonald Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill Billie Holiday
Tyne Daly Mothers and Sons Katharine Gerard
Cherry Jones The Glass Menagerie Amanda Wingfield
Estelle Parsons The Velocity of Autumn Alexandra
Latanya Richardson-Jackson A Raisin in the Sun Lena Younger
69th Tony Awards
Helen Mirren The Audience Queen Elizabeth II
Geneva Carr Hand To God Margery
Elisabeth Moss The Heidi Chronicles Heidi Holland
Carey Mulligan Skylight Kyra Hollis
Ruth Wilson Constellations Marianne

Win total[edit]

Nomination total[edit]

Character Win total[edit]

3 Wins
2 Wins
  • Amanda Prynne from Private Lives
  • Annie from The Real Thing

Character Nomination total[edit]


  1. ^ Kirkley, Donald (April 21, 1968). "Operation Frenzy Before the Tony Awards". The Baltimore Sun. p. T2. Retrieved December 24, 2011.  (subscription required)

External links[edit]