Kay Cummings, talented actress, mentor

June 21, 2022

Kay Cummings of Lewes, and formerly of New York City, passed away Tuesday, June 14, 2022, peacefully with her beloved wife, Ellen McKeon, at her side in Lewes. She was born Dec. 15, 1940, in New York City.

Kay attended the preparatory division of the Juilliard School, graduated Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude from Elmira College, and had a master’s degree in performance from New York University. She played leading roles off-Broadway, in national tours, stock, theater, television soaps, series and commercials, and appeared in major motion pictures as well as writing and performing in a series of highly acclaimed, one-woman cabaret shows.

Kay was the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Fulbright Panelist and the dance curator for Symphony Space. For all her success in the theater, it was as a teacher and mentor that Kay made her greatest impact. Kay served from 1992 through 2002 as the chair for the department of dance of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, and continued to teach choreography and acting until her retirement in 2016.

In 1992, Kay founded the Tisch Dance Summer Residency Festival. In 1996, Kay was awarded the NYU Distinguished Teaching Medal, and in 2016 she received the David Payne Carter Teaching Award. Since moving to Delaware, she enjoyed working in theatre again, directing “Three Tall Women,” appearing in “Stop Kiss,” portraying Dr. Kitty Cochran in “Last Summer at Bluefish Cove,” and playing Rosie in “The Wedding Singer.” Her most recent collaborations include a two-woman show, “The Other Shoe” with Beth Corning, performed in Pittsburgh, Pa., and “The Home Project” with Tiffany Mills in NYC.

Kay nurtured her students and changed the course of their entire lives for the better. She will be missed by many, but her bright spirit and brilliant legacy will live on.

In addition to her devoted wife Ellen McKeon, Kay is survived by her cherished family: her sister, Janie Messina; her nephew, Vicente; her brother and sister-in-law, William and Jennifer Feinberg; her niece, Meira; her nephew, Noah; and her brother, Jeffrey Feinberg.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 11 a.m., Monday, June 27, at Parsell Funeral Homes & Crematorium Atkins-Lodge Chapel, 16961 Kings Hwy., Lewes, where friends may visit beginning at 10:30 a.m.

All who cannot attend in person are invited to join the services via livestream at:

Visit Kay’s Life Memorial webpage and sign her virtual guest book at

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