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Jennifer Leak D’Auria

Thu, 03/28/2024 - 08:31

Sept. 28, 1947 - March 18, 2024

An actress whose career included both film and television credits, Jennifer Leak D’Auria of Jupiter, Fla., died at home there on March 18. Formerly of East Hampton, New York City, and Amagansett, Ms. D’Auria had for the last seven years been coping with a rare neurological disease, progressive supranuclear palsy. She was 76.

Her career began when she was 17, after filming a pilot for a Canadian television series called “Wojeck.” Mike Nichols, the film director, was “impressed with her un-studied natural talents,” James D’Auria, her husband of 47 years, said. Then known as Jennifer Leak, she was cast in Nichols’s “The Graduate,” but immigration issues kept her from being able to take part in the shoot.

She later moved to Los Angeles, living at the Hollywood Studio Club, a kind of dormitory for women, and within a few months she was cast as Lucille Ball’s daughter in the 1968 film “Yours, Mine and Ours.”

Her career continued with episodic, nighttime TV shows including “Hawaii Five-0,” “Nero Wolfe,” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” She was later cast in “Bright Promise,” a daytime soap opera, and daytime television “became her favorite medium and what she loved performing in most,” her husband said. For three years she was a cast member on “The Young and the Restless” in Los Angeles, and then spent three years working on “Another World” in New York.

It was during her time in New York that she met her future husband. They married in April of 1977. Four years later, they bought a house on Dayton Lane in East Hampton and began splitting their time between there and the city. In 1997 they moved to Town Lane in Amagansett, which, after 9/11, became their primary residence. They moved back to East Hampton in 2013, but sold their house in 2017 and moved to Florida full time.

Jennifer Leak was born at her maternal grandmother’s house in Cardiff, Wales, on Sept. 28, 1947, to Kenneth Leak and the former Bernice Howard. She grew up in Hertfordshire, England, before emigrating to Nova Scotia, then Jerusalem, then Toronto.

In East Hampton, she worked for many years as a sales agent with the Devlin McNiff real estate company.

Later in life, she was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where she began participating in research programs. “Her courage and bravery tried in vain to fight the disease,” Mr. D’Auria wrote, noting that she made one final gift, donating her brain tissue to the Mayo Clinic for further research.

Mr. D’Auria described his wife as “a shy and private person, never desiring to be the center of attention or having the need for an audience. She saved those feelings and exhibited them only when on camera, and then she became electric.”

In addition to her husband, Ms. D’Auria leaves a brother, Kenneth Leak of Toronto.

Her ashes will be buried in the graveyard of her childhood church in Rumney, Wales.

 

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