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Remembering Yale graduate and ‘Shakespeare Lady,’ Margaret Holloway

New Haven

Holloway died this year from COVID-19. She was 68.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — She triple majored at the Yale School of Drama yet was panhandling in the shadows of Yale’s campus. The story of Margaret Holloway is one about darkness and demons battling the inner workings of a true Shakespearean actor and talented woman.

The New York Times called her the ‘Shakespeare Lady,’ known for her incredible ability to memorize lines from Shakespearean plays-almost always performing on the streets of the Elm City.

Longtime friend and fellow thespian Aleta Stanton recalls the great Margaret Holloway and her alluring ability to attract a crowd despite her ragged clothing and rough appearance.

“I never saw anybody who treated her like a panhandler I never saw anybody who passed her by and said ‘no no no.’ We pretty much always attracted a crowd,” Stanton said.

The Times said she was a once-promising director and actor who struggled with mental illness and drug addiction after graduating from the Yale School of Drama in 1980.

The longtime performer stopped acting in the streets about three years ago.

Her performances weren’t long but they were very memorable.

“It was just a few minutes, you know, it wasn’t long at all. Or maybe even a few seconds. But there was always somebody else who stopped because they were mesmerized by what she was doing,” Stanton said.

Holloway died this year at age 68 from COVID-19.

She lived her last days in a local nursing home. Many are now remembering the woman with a big presence and an even bigger smile that lit up the street.

“I’m glad she’s at rest because I knew that one time I would see her and she’d look really different and I knew that there was a struggle going on, and, she’s at rest now,” Stanton said.

Yale’s School of Drama released a statement on the death of Holloway. It said in part,

“The last time we spoke, she was frightened about the possibility of contracting COVID-19 and being alone. Tragically, her worst fear came true. [We] only wish that she could see the outpouring of love, affection, and respect she is receiving now from her many friends and acquaintances.”

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