Hollis Resnik, a Chicago theater legend who made her mark in productions of Follies, Les Miserables, Cabaret and Sunset Boulevard, died Sunday night from heart failure. She was 66.
Her death was announced by Rev. Jim Heneghan, a family friend and spokesperson.
“She was, for decades, a reigning diva of the Chicago theater,” wrote Tribune critic Chris Jones, “a rich-voiced star of musicals with a singular presence, a crackling sense of humor, and a larger-than-life persona, on and off the stage.”
Resnik was in the movie Backdraft and appeared on TV shows such as Crime Story, The Untouchables and The Playboy Club. But it was in national touring productions and on Chicago stages that she left her mark.
Resnik’s stage roles included Fantine in national touring productions of Les Misérables, Edith Beale in Grey Gardens at Northlight Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, Eva Peron in Evita at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse and Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard at Porchlight Music Theatre.
The actress reveled in her 2019 stint as Desmond, embracing the challenge of finding a fresh take on the iconic character. “Theater’s always crackling,” she told the Sun-Times. “There’s always something new to be discovered.”
Below is a conversation she had about playing Fräulein Schneider in a recent production of Cabaret.
Resnik grew up in the Cleveland suburb of Euclid, Ohio, and received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Denison University in Ohio. She is survived by parents Betty and Reginald Resnik, brothers Paul and Mark Resnik and sister-in-law Mary Resnik. Plans for a memorial service are pending.
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