NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jill Clayburgh, the Oscar-nominated actress who specialized in roles as independent women emerging from the shadows of men, died on Friday at age 66, The New York Times reported.
Clayburgh died at her Connecticut home from leukemia, which she had lived with for more than two decades, the Times said, citing her husband, playwright David Rabe.
She was nominated for best-actress Oscars for her role in Paul Mazursky's "An Unmarried Woman" in 1978 and for the comedy "Starting Over" opposite Burt Reynolds a year later.
In "An Unmarried Woman," Clayburgh played Erica, a comfortable Manhattan wife and mother whose world comes apart when her husband, without warning, abandons her for a younger woman.
By the final reel, she embarks on a relationship with an artist, played by Alan Bates, but also finds her own inner strength, voice and independence.
Clayburgh won the best actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival for her performance.
Her roles during the late 1970s and early 1980s reflected the changes and challenges facing many women during that time.
"I guess people look at me and they think I'm a ladylike character," she told the Times in 1982. "But it's not what I do best. I do best with characters who are coming apart at the seams."
Clayburgh also appeared frequently on Broadway and television. She received Emmy nominations for her performance as a prostitute in the 1975 TV movie "Hustling" and in 2005 for her role in "Nip/Tuck." She also appeared as the mother of the title character in the hit series "Ally McBeal."
"Her final film, "Bridesmaids," has not yet been released.
Writing by Chris Michaud; Editing by Peter Cooney