Home > News & Advice > News Obituaries > Shirley Knight (1936–2020), “Sweet Bird of Youth” star
Shirley Knight

Shirley Knight (1936–2020), “Sweet Bird of Youth” star

by Kirk Fox

Shirley Knight was an actress best known in the 1960s who was nominated for two Best Supporting Actress Oscars for her work in “Sweet Bird of Youth” and “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs.”  

  • Died: Wednesday, April 22, 2020. (Who else died on April 22?)
  • Details of Death: Died at the age of 83, from natural causes.  
  • We invite you to share condolences for Shirley Knight in our Guest Book

Acting career 

Knight signed a contract with Warner Brothers and appeared on many TV series including “77 Sunset Strip.” Her first major movie role was in the 1960 film “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs,” which gained her a Best Supporting Actress nomination. She was nominated again in the same category for playing Heaven Finley in the movie adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play “Sweet Bird of Youth” opposite Paul Newman. She was a successful stage actress and later in her career she played the mother-in-law of Marcia Cross in “Desperate Housewives” and Kevin James mother in the “Paul Blart” movies.  

Her first meeting with top agent Kurt Frings 

“I was taken in to meet him, and I was this skinny little thing with glasses. He took one look at me and said to the agent who brought me in, ‘Why do we want her?’ And the agent said, ‘Well, she’s really good.’ This is with me in the room. And he said, ‘Well, OK.” – according to the Hollywood Reporter  


What they said about her

Full Obituary: The Hollywood Reporter

More Stories