'Follies' Star Jan Maxwell Has Passed Away After Complications From Breast Cancer

Date February 15, 2018

Jan Maxwell was born in Fargo, North Dakota. Her father, Ralph B. Maxwell, was a former district judge, while her mother, Elizabeth "Liz" Maxwell, worked with the EPA.

© The 61st Annual Tony Awards (2007) / Tony Awards

She began her career as an actor in 1989 on the Broadway show, City of Angels. Although she started out as an understudy, her sterling performance saw her playing two roles in the same show.

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© BrainDead (2016) / Scott Free Productions

On television, Jan appeared alongside James Franco in TV show, I Am Michael. Between 1994-2003, she appeared in four episodes of the NBC drama Law & Order.

© BrainDead (2016) / Scott Free Productions

By 2012, she became the second actress to received Tony nominations in four categories for her film, Follies.


In her career, she has been nominated for 5 Tony awards. And all nomination occurred in a span of seven years. She was also a two-time Drama Desk Award winner.


Obituary announcement

Jan’s death was confirmed by her husband, Robert Emmet Lunney. According to him, his late wife had suffered leptomeningeal disease. The condition is a complication of cancer that affects the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.


The passionate actor was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and received treatment. Despite her remission, she experienced a recurrence in 2013, this time in metastasis.

By 2015, Jan retired from acting. She said she was no longer enchanted by the roles she was being offered.

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Condolences for a well-loved performer

Fans and colleagues have been sharing condolence messages since the news of her death broke.

An example of sterling humility

Jan will forever be remembered for her modesty. Speaking to The Times in 2008, she said, “I feel very lucky to be an actress. I have no other talents whatsoever.” She may not have thought a lot about her work, but she has left behind a lasting impression in the hearts and minds of millions.

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Breast Cancer