In Memoriam: Phyllis Frelich

Phyllis Frelich

In Memoriam: Phyllis Frelich

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) mourns the April 10, 2014 passing of Phyllis Frelich, a dear friend and supporter who has contributed tremendously to our community on many levels and helped elevate visibility of our culture to unprecedented levels during her life. Ms. Frelich was a phenomenal actress who was the first deaf person to win a Tony Award, and did so as Best Actress in the theater production of Children of a Lesser God.

Her performances were renowned and showcased not only in the theater, including with the National Theater of the Deaf but also on television with roles in series such as Barney Miller, ER, Santa Barbara, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigations, as well as the television movie productions of Love is Never Silent and Sweet Nothing in My Ear.

Phyllis Frelich was born on February 29, 1944 in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota to deaf parents and was the oldest of nine deaf siblings. She attended the North Dakota School for the Deaf, from which she graduated in 1962, and then studied at Gallaudet College. In addition to being an accomplished actress, she was also talented in quilting and donated many of her quilts to the NAD for its auctions. Ms. Frelich’s passing is a huge loss to the deaf and hard of hearing community and the world. The NAD thanks her for transforming society’s perception of our community with her wonderful contributions and skills.


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