Rebecca Luker, Tony-Nominated ‘Mary Poppins,’ ‘Music Man’ Star, Dies at 59

Rebecca Luker, the Broadway actor who earned Tony nominations for “Mary Poppins,” “The Music Man” and “Show Boat,” died on Wednesday in Manhattan, her agent told The New York Times. She was 59.

She had been diagnosed with ALS late last year.

As an actor, Luker graced both the stage and the screen, though she’s most notably recognized for her many successful Broadway performances.

She began her Broadway career as an understudy for the role of Christine Daaé in “The Phantom of the Opera” from 1988 to 1991. Throughout the 1990s, she performed in three more roles, taking on parts in “The Secret Garden,” “Show Boat” and “The Sound of Music.”

Taking on the character of Magnolia in “Show Boat” earned Luker her first of the three Tony nominations she would go on to receive in her career. Her later works in “The Music Man” and “Mary Poppins” would eventually lead to her second and third nods by the prestigious awards show.

As the 2000s wore on, Luker continued to perform on Broadway but began to take on film and television roles, as well. Starting with her appearance in a TV movie from 2000, “Cupid & Cate,” the actor went on to appear in “The Good Wife,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “NCIS: New Orleans.” Her final acting role was in 2020, where she played Michele Downey in “Bull.”

The star had her final stage performance in Kennedy Center’s 2019 production of “Footloose,” in which she played a small-town minister’s narrow-minded wife. By this time she had also appeared in three feature films, as well, including 2014’s “The Rewrite.”

In June, Luker hosted an Zoom-based benefit for ALS called “At Home With Rebecca Luker.” She sang and raised funds and awareness for those dealing with the disease during her prerecorded concert.

Luker is survived by actor and husband Danny Burstein, brother Roger, sister Suzanne Luker, mother Martha Hales and stepfather Lamar Hales.

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