Glee actress Jane Galloway Heitz dies aged 78

Actress Jane Galloway Heitz, best known for portraying show choir head Lillian Adler in the high school musical series Glee, has died aged 78.

She died of congestive heart failure in an Illinois hospital last week, her daughter Amie Richardson confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

She also appeared in shows like ER, Grey’s Anatomy and The Big Bang Theory.

Galloway Heitz helped launch the careers of actors such as Steve Carell via her own Chicago casting business.

Fans of Fox’s comedy-drama series Glee will recognise the face of Galloway Heitz’s character Lillian Adler, the one-time choir director, from the commemorative photo that was often seen in the choir room at William McKinley High School.

A plaque marking the character’s life and death, carried the phrase: “By its very definition, Glee is about opening yourself up to joy.” It inspired Will Schuester – played by Matthew Morrison – to take over the club.

The famous photo appeared in the show’s final scene, and Galloway Heitz only actually appeared in person on the show twice, in the same flashback scene in 2009 and 2015.

‘She had a starring role in my career’

Alongside her own acting, she helped to nurture the talents of a young Carell (well known for the US Office and films such as Foxcatcher, The Big Short and The 40-year-old Virgin), as well as chat show host Stephen Colbert.

Her casting also helped launch the careers of actors Richard Kind, who starred in Mad About You and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet.

Stonestreet led the tributes, crediting Galloway Heitz for his success, while describing her as a “a great friend and mentor”.

Skip Twitter post by @ericstonestreet

Jane was the first casting director to ever call me in for an audition in Chicago. She became a great friend and mentor. I tried to always make sure she knew she had a starring role in my career. She put me on that path I’m on.
I wish i could have said thank you one more time. https://t.co/zPAHtzPByJ

— Eric Stonestreet (@ericstonestreet) November 21, 2019

End of Twitter post by @ericstonestreet

She sold her agency in 1997 to pursue her own acting career.

As well as playing roles in other TV shows like the US version of Shameless, Galloway Heitz also appeared in films including the 2007 crime thriller, I Know Who Killed Me and David Lynch’s The Straight Story, in 1999.

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