The Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play is an honor presented at the Tony Awards, a ceremony established in 1947 as the Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theatre, to actresses for quality supporting roles in a Broadway play. The awards are named after Antoinette Perry, an American actress who died in 1946. Honors in several categories are presented at the ceremony annually by the Tony Award Productions, a joint venture of The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, to "honor the best performances and stage productions of the previous year."
Originally called the Tony Award for Actress, Supporting or Featured (Dramatic), the award was first presented to Patricia Neal at the 1st Tony Awards for her portrayal of Regina Hubbard in Lillian Hellman's Another Part of the Forest. Before 1956, nominees' names were not made public; the change was made by the awards committee to "have a greater impact on theatregoers". The award was renamed in 1976, with Shirley Knight becoming the first winner under the new title for her role as Carla in Robert Patrick's Kennedy's Children. Its most recent recipient is Judith Light, for the role of Silda Grauman, in Other Desert Cities.
Five actresses (Christine Baranski, Judith Ivey, Swoosie Kurtz, Audra McDonald, and Frances Sternhagen) hold the record for having the most wins in this category, each with a total of two, while an actress playing the same character in a play has never won the award more than once. Supporting actresses in two of three plays in Neil Simon's Eugene trilogy (Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound) were nominated for the Tony, whereas featured actresses in six parts of August Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle have also been nominated for the award.
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