Changed her professional name to Irene Worth in 1942 just as she was making her stage debut in "Escape Me Never".
Former kindergarten school teacher.
Has won three Tony Awards: in 1965, as Best Actress (Dramatic) for "Tiny Alice;" in 1976, as Best Actress (Play) for a revival of "Sweet Bird of Youth;" and in 1991, as Best Actress (Featured Role - Play) for "Lost in Yonkers," a role that she recreated in the movie version with the same name, Lost in Yonkers (1993). She was also nominated for Tony Awards two other times: in 1960, as Best Actress (Dramatic) for "Toys in the Attic," and in 1977, as Best Actress (Play) for "The Cherry Orchard."
Her parents, Agnes Thiessen and Henry Abrams, were educators. Her grandparents, who were Mennonites, had settled with others in the nearby Jansen area of Nebraska during the late 19th century.
In 1920 her family moved to Reedley, California. She graduated from Newport Harbor High School in 1933.
In 1935, she transferred to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) where she was admitted to three honorary dramatics societies.
In 1951 she joined the Old Vic company, and there she played Helena in "A Midsummer Night's Dream", directed by Tyrone Guthrie, and her first Lady Macbeth. When the Old Vic went touring in South Africa, Irene was one of the leading ladies.
In 1999, Worth had a stroke just before she was to begin preview performances in a Broadway revival of Anouilh's "Ring Round the Moon". She never managed to appear in the production.
Joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1962.
She made her Broadway debut with "The Two Mrs Carrolls" in 1943, which starred the legendary Elisabeth Bergner. It was Bergner and her film director husband Paul Czinner who persuaded Irene that London was the center of the English-speaking theatre. She moved there and immediately trained at the Old Vic in 1944.
She was awarded an honorary C.B.E. (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for her services to drama in 1975.
She was awarded the 1975 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Guest Artist for her performance in "Sweet Bird of Youth" at the Academy Festival Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
She was inducted into the New York Hall of Fame and the London Hall of Fame, and received honorary doctorates from Tufts University and Queens College of the City University of New York.