BiographyThe Bronx, New York City, New York, USA
Helen Hanft was born in The Bronx in New York City in 1934. She began her career on the stage in the late 1950's in theatre productions after studying drama at The Performing Arts High School. She transferred to Off-Off-Broadway productions, starring in a series of plays written by Tom Eyen. One of the plays was to make Hanft a star of both Off-Off-Broadway and the avant-garde underground, bringing her a cult following in the years to come. Read more... nights standing over a breezehole in Coney Island for sexual thrills. She is well-documented in many books and writings for having made theatre history with her performances and being at the center of such renowned companies as Theatre of The Eye and an integral part of the La Mama E.T.C. and Caffe Cino families. She continued to appear in plays for both Tom Eyen and other various New York playwrights throughout the 1960's and 1970's but later went on to develop a considerable film career. She still frequents the New York stage in mostly Off-Broadway productions there playing everything from distressed mothers to eccentric dying matriarchs to monstrously wicked society women. Occasionally Hanft appears in such popular television fare as Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001). She is perhaps best known for her roles in Used People (1992) as the ever-endearing "Aunt Ruthie" (opposite Shirley MacLaine) and as the almost villainous Department of Motor Vehicles employee, "Miss Hellberg" (originally the character was named "Miss Heilman" in the script), in License to Drive (1988) (opposite former teen heartthrob Corey Haim). Hanft also left indelible marks in such films as Stardust Memories (1980), (directed by Woody Allen), Honky Tonk Freeway (1981) (directed by the late John Schlesinger), Arthur (1981), (opposite Dudley Moore), and Moonstruck (1987), (opposite Cher) as the liquor store owner, Lotte. A marvelous actress of many facets and great depth, Hanft still delights and thrills audiences today with her film and stage characterizations.