Marta Heflin Dies, Actress Often Worked with Robert Altman

09/26/2013 at 08:30 AM EDT

Actress Marta Heflin Dies at 68
Marta Heflin
Marta Heflin, the niece of the Oscar-winning actor Van Heflin and an accomplished actress in her own right, died Sept. 18 after a lengthy illness, according to an obituary in The New York Times. She was 68.

A stage and cabaret performer with large eyes and a waifish frame that often belied her commanding presence, Heflin frequently worked with film director Robert Altman, in such movies as Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (Altman and Heflin also worked on the Broadway stage version together), A Perfect Couple and A Wedding.

In addition, reports The Times, Heflin appeared in the Barbra Streisand version of A Star Is Born and Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy. On TV, her roles included those on the NBC soap The Doctors and in playwright Arthur Miller's Playing for Time, a TV movie set in a German concentration camp and which costarred Vanessa Redgrave.

Taking note of Heflin's illustrious family – in his long career, Van Heflin's credits included Johnny Eager, Shane, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers and the original Airport – the Hollywood Reporter notes that her mother, Julia Heflin, was a theater producer and journalist, and relatives include cousin Jonathan Kaplan, the film director, and uncle Sol Kaplan, the prolific Hollywood composer.

Her family asks that donations be made in Heflin's name to Animal Haven, a nonprofit organization that finds homes for abandoned cats and dogs throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

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