Phyllis Frelich


1944 - 2014

Tony Award winner for the Most Outstanding Performance by an Actress for her role in the play "Children of a Lesser God," Phyllis Frelich is an exceptional woman.

Deaf all her life, Frelich dreamed of becoming an actress. After graduating from the School for the Deaf in her hometown of Devils Lake, North Dakota, she went to Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C., a liberal arts college for the deaf. Few theater courses were offered there, but Frelich devoured the limited number available.

Frelich was one of the founding members of the National Theater of the Deaf (NTD). Through her involvement with the NTD, Frelich met the playwright Mark Medoff. Intrigued by the difficulties of a deaf actress in finding suitable roles, he wrote a play that portrayed the problems of deaf people in a hearing world on one level, and the difficulty of all human communication on another level.

Although the play was written for her and the similarities between the lead character and Frelich are numerous, it is not her life story. Rather, it illustrates the life of one deaf person in a hearing world.

Presented: April 27, 1981
Portrait Painted By: Vern Skaug