Tony Award-winning actress Phyllis Frelich dies

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Tony Award-winning actress Phyllis Frelich dies
Phyllis Frelich and co-star John Rubenstein talk to guests in sign language at the 34th Annual Tony Awards dinner in New York City on Sunday night, June 8, 1980. Frelich, who has been deaf since birth, won best actress for her role in "Children of a Lesser God." Rubinstein won best actor award for the season's best drama on Broadway. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
FILE - This April 8, 2004 file photo shows actress Phyllis Frelich posing in New York. Frelich, a Tony award-winning deaf actress who starred in the Broadway version of "Children of a Lesser God," has died. She was 70. Frelich died Thursday April 10, 2014, at her Southern California home. (AP Photo/Justin Walters, File)
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Phyllis Frelich, a Tony Award-winning deaf actress who starred in the Broadway version of "Children of a Lesser God," has died. She was 70.

Her husband, Robert Steinberg, said Frelich died Thursday at her Southern California home. She suffered from a degenerative neurological condition for several years.

The oldest of nine deaf children born to deaf parents, Frelich became interested in acting while at the North Dakota School for the Deaf and Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C.

She joined the National Theatre of the Deaf, where she met Steinberg, who worked as a scenic and lighting designer on several plays by Mark Medoff.

The couple inspired Medoff to create "Children of a Lesser God," which follows the relationship between a deaf woman and a teacher at a school for the deaf.

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