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Rebecca Luker, Broadway and Frequent Primetime Guest Star, Dead At 59

Rebecca LukerRebecca Luker

Three-time Tony-nominated actress Rebecca Luker (Mary Poppins), known for her rich soprano voice, has passed away at the age of 59. Admired for her work on Broadway, she also guest-starred on a lot of primetime TV shows. Now many former co-workers and admirers have paid tribute after hearing about her death Wednesday, December 23.

Rebecca Luker Passed Away

Luker’s passing was reported to The New York Times by her agent. She died from complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

She was born on April 17, 1961, in Birmingham, Alabama, and made her Broadway debut in 1988 as an original cast member of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, playing the part of the Princess in the Hannibal scene. In 1989, she took on the lead role of that show’s Christine Daaé at the Majestic Theater.

Two years later, Luker created the role of Lily on Broadway in The Secret Garden. For that performance, she earend her first Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical. Her other credits include Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s The Boys From Syracuse. In 1998, the beloved performer took on the beloved role of Maria in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. Next, came The Music Man in which she played Marian Paroo opposite Craig Bierko’s Harold Hill.

In 2006, she took on another role played by Julie Andrews — Mary Poppins, playing it for most of its run. Next, Luker appeared in Death Takes a Holiday, which earned her a 2012 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical.

She returned to Broadway in 2013 as Victoria Clark in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. In 2016, Luker temporarily filled in for Judy Kuhn as Helen Bechdel in Fun Home. She appeared on television both on the Kennedy Center Honors tributes to Julie Andrews and Barbara Cook and also on dramatic programs including Law & Order: SVU, Bull, Elementary, Boardwalk Empire, and The Good Wife.

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Luker is survived by husband Danny Burstein in 2000, having met during a production of Time and Again at the Old Globe Theater.

Warren Leight, Law & Order: SVU showrunner, tweeted: “Heartbreaking news. Rebecca Luker, 3-Time Tony-Nominated Performer, Passes Away at 59. Our thoughts are with Danny and their children. (SVU fans will remember Rebecca and Danny for their moving performance as parents in Transgender Bridge.).”

“Rebecca Luker was humble, loving and kind,” wrote Laura Benanti (Homeschool Musical Class of 2020). “So much so that you would sometimes forget her otherworldly talent, until she would sing, and her golden voice would wrap you in peace. She was an angel on earth, and now in Heaven. I will always love you, Becca. ✨

“Just devastating,” posted Tony Award-winning actress, Audra McDonald (Private Practice). “She was an angel on earth. One of the most glorious voices and the sweetest of souls. Sending so much love to her family and especially to Danny.”

“Rebecca Luker was a light & such an inspiration to me,” revealed Betty Buckley. “I was deeply touched by her in ‘Showboat’ on Bway & went backstage to meet her. She graciously shared who her teacher was. She was so beautiful & will be profoundly missed. Thank you, Becca, for changing my life.”

Entertainment Hub sends sincere condolences to Danny Burstein, their children, and her other family members and loved ones.

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