Born Anna Maria Louisa Italiano (September 17, 1931- June 6, 2005), Bancroft earned her first Golden Globe nomination for her work as Hellen Keller’s teacher in The Miracle Worker (1962), a role she had also played on stage as a theater actress. She was awarded a Golden Globe in 1968 for her portrayal of the lovelorn Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate (1967) and she went on to earn five additional Golden Globe nominations, for her performances in The Turning Point (1977), To Be or Not To Be (1983), Garbo Talks (1984) by Sidney Lumet, Agnes of God (1985), and 'night Mother (1986).
Her other works include The Pumpkin Eater (1964) with Peter Finch, Young Winston (1972) by Richard Attenborough, The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975) with Jack Lemmon, The Elephant Man (1980) by David Lynch, Garbo Talks (1984) by Sidney Lumet and Agnes of God (1985) by Norman Jewison with Jane Fonda. She wrote, directed and starred with Dom DeLuise in Fatso (1980), she was directed by and co-starred with her husband Mel Brooks in To Be or Not To Be (1983). She acted in movies like How to Make an American Quilt (1995) by Jocelyn Moorhouse, Home for the Holidays (1995) by Jodie Foster, G.I. Jane (1997) by Ridley Scott, Great Expectations (1998) by Alfonso Cuarón.
On television Bancroft acted in Annie: the Women in the Life of a Man (1970), Broadway Bound (1992), Mrs. Cage (1992), Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1994), Homecoming (1996), Deep in My Heart (1999), Haven (2001), The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (2003) from the 1950 novel by Tennessee Williams.
Married to Mel Brooks since 1964, Bancroft passed away on June 6, 2005, after a battle with cancer.