Joan Hackett Cause of Death: How the Actress Fought Ovarian Cancer with Courage and Grace

Joan Hackett was a talented and versatile actress who starred in films, stage, and television. She was nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe for her performance in Only When I Laugh (1981). She also appeared in memorable roles in Will Penny (1967), Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969), and The Last of Sheila (1973). However, her life and career were cut short by ovarian cancer, which claimed her life on October 8, 1983, at the age of 49. How did Joan Hackett cope with her illness and what was her cause of death? Here are some facts and insights into her brave battle with cancer.

Early Signs of Illness

Joan Hackett was born on March 1, 1934, in New York City, to an Italian mother and an Irish-American father. She grew up in a Catholic family and attended Catholic schools. She dropped out of high school to pursue a modeling career, but soon switched to acting. She studied at the Actors Studio and made her Broadway debut in 1959. She also started appearing on television shows such as The Twilight Zone, The Defenders, and Bonanza.

According to Wikipedia, Joan Hackett first noticed symptoms of ovarian cancer in 1973, when she was filming The Last of Sheila with James Coburn, Raquel Welch, and Dyan Cannon. She experienced abdominal pain, bloating, and weight loss, but ignored them for a while. She later consulted a doctor, who diagnosed her with ovarian cancer and recommended surgery. However, Joan Hackett refused to undergo surgery until she finished filming the movie. She also did not want to publicize her condition or seek sympathy from others.

Treatment and Recovery

After completing The Last of Sheila, Joan Hackett underwent surgery to remove her ovaries and uterus. She also received chemotherapy and radiation therapy to kill any remaining cancer cells. She recovered well from the treatment and resumed her acting career. She appeared in several TV movies and miniseries, such as The Terminal Man (1974), Rodeo Girl (1980), and Mourning Becomes Electra (1978). She also starred in the comedy film Only When I Laugh, for which she received critical acclaim and awards recognition.

According to IMDb, Joan Hackett was optimistic about her chances of survival and did not let her illness affect her work ethic or sense of humor. She continued to be active and adventurous, enjoying hobbies such as horseback riding, skiing, and traveling. She also became a social activist, supporting causes such as solar energy and the preservation of historic theaters. She maintained a close circle of friends and colleagues who admired her courage and grace.

Relapse and Death

Unfortunately, Joan Hackett’s cancer returned in 1981, spreading to other parts of her body. She underwent another surgery and more chemotherapy, but the treatment was not effective. She became weaker and thinner, losing her hair and appetite. She also suffered from severe pain and nausea. She spent her last months in a hospital in Encino, California, where she received palliative care and morphine injections.

According to, Joan Hackett died on October 8, 1983, surrounded by her family and friends. Her cause of death was ovarian cancer. She was cremated and buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. Her tombstone bears a witty epitaph that reads: “Go away — I’m asleep”.

Legacy and Tribute

Joan Hackett left behind a legacy of memorable performances that showcased her range and versatility as an actress. She also left behind a reputation of being a perfectionist, a professional, and a passionate artist who never compromised her vision or integrity. She was respected and loved by her peers and fans alike.

According to Dead or Kicking, Joan Hackett was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1984. She was also posthumously inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2002. Her films have been preserved by the Library of Congress as part of the National Film Registry. Her life story has been featured in documentaries such as Remembering Joan Hackett (2006) and Women Who Made Hollywood (2017).

Joan Hackett was one of the notable women who fought ovarian cancer with courage and grace. Her story inspires others who face similar challenges to live fully and authentically until the end.

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