Deaf actress Phyllis Frelich has died at the age of 70.

The Children of a Lesser God stage star passed away on Thursday (10Apr14).

In a message on, representatives for the Deaf West Theatre write, "You paved so many roads for us, Phyllis. A leading light of our community has been lost, and we mourn deeply. Our thoughts are with her family."

Frelich was best known for originating the leading female role in the Broadway play Children of a Lesser God, for which she won a Tony Award for in 1980.

She also earned an Emmy nomination in 1986 for her part in Tv movie Love Is Never Silent.

Her other onscreen credits include Csi: Crime Scene Investigation, Er, Diagnosis Murder and Sweet Nothing in My Ear.

In 1986, deaf actress Marlee Matlin took on Frelich's Sarah Norman role in a movie adaptation of the Broadway play and won the Best Actress Oscar for the part.

Reacting to the sad news on, Matlin writes, "I'm devastated that Phyllis Freilich (sic) Tony winner for Children of A Lesser God has died. She was a True talent. Rip".