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Shirley MacLaine

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Shirley MacLaine

Shirley MacLaine
in The Apartment (1960)
Born Shirley MacLean Beaty
(1934-04-24) April 24, 1934
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
Occupation Actress, singer, dancer, author, activist
Years active 1953–present
Political party Democratic[1]
Spouse(s) Steve Parker (m. 1954–1982; divorced; 1 child)
Children Sachi Parker
Family Warren Beatty (brother)
Website .comshirleymaclaine

Shirley MacLean Beaty[2] (born April 24, 1934),[2] known professionally as Shirley MacLaine, is an American film, television and theater actress, singer, dancer, activist and author. She has won an Academy Award, five Golden Globe Awards, including the Cecil B. DeMille Award, an Emmy Award and two BAFTA Awards.

In 2012, she received the 40th AFI Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, and in 2013 received the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts. She is known for her New Age beliefs and interest in spirituality and reincarnation. She has written a series of autobiographical works, many dealing with her spiritual beliefs as well as her Hollywood career.

Early life

Named after Shirley Temple (who was 6 years old at the time), Shirley MacLean Beaty was born in Richmond, Virginia. Her father, Ira Owens Beaty,[3] was a professor of psychology, public school administrator, and real estate agent, and her mother, Kathlyn Corinne (née MacLean), was a drama teacher, originally from Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada. MacLaine's younger brother is the actor, writer and director Warren Beatty; he changed the spelling of his surname when he became an actor.[4] Their parents raised them as Baptists.[5] Her uncle (her mother's brother-in-law) was A. A. MacLeod, a Communist member of the Ontario legislature in the 1940s.[6][7] While MacLaine was still a child, Ira Beaty moved his family from Richmond to Norfolk, and then to Arlington and Waverly, eventually taking a position at Arlington's Thomas Jefferson Junior High School. MacLaine played baseball on an all-boys team, holding the record for most home runs which earned her the nickname "Powerhouse". During the 1950s, the family resided in the Dominion Hills section of Arlington.[8]

She had weak ankles as a toddler, so her mother decided to enroll her in ballet class at the age of three.[9] This was the beginning of her interest in performing. Strongly motivated by ballet, she never missed a class. In classical romantic pieces like Romeo and Juliet and The Sleeping Beauty, she always played the boys' roles due to being the tallest in the group and the absence of males in the class. Eventually she had a substantial female role as the fairy godmother in Cinderella; while warming up backstage, she broke her ankle, but proceeded to dance the role all the way through. Ultimately she decided against making a career of professional ballet because she had grown too tall and was unable to acquire perfect technique. She explained that she didn't have the ideal body type, lacking the requisite "beautifully constructed feet" of high arches, high insteps and a flexible ankle.[10] Also slowly realizing ballet's propensity to be too all-consuming, and ultimately limiting, she moved on to other forms of dancing, acting and musical theater.

She attended Washington-Lee High School, where she was on the cheerleading squad and acted in school theatrical productions. The summer before her senior year, she went to New York City to try acting on Broadway, and had some success. After she graduated, she returned and within a year became an understudy to actress Carol Haney in The Pajama Game; Haney broke her ankle, and MacLaine replaced her. A few months after, with Haney still injured, film producer Hal B. Wallis saw MacLaine's performance, and signed her to work for Paramount Pictures. She later sued Wallis over a contractual dispute, a suit that has been credited with ending the old-style studio star system of actor management.[11]


MacLaine in her debut film The Trouble with Harry (1955)

MacLaine made her film debut in Alfred Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry (1955), for which she won the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress. Quickly followed by her role in the Martin and Lewis film Artists and Models (1955). In 1956, she had roles in Hot Spell and Around the World in 80 Days. At the same time she starred in Some Came Running, the film in which she garnered her first Academy Award nomination – one of five that the film received – and a Golden Globe nomination. Her second Oscar nomination came two years later for The Apartment, starring with Jack Lemmon. The film won five Oscars, including Best Director for Billy Wilder. She later said, "I thought I would win for The Apartment, but then Elizabeth Taylor had a tracheotomy." She starred in The Children's Hour (1961) also starring Audrey Hepburn and James Garner, based on the play by Lillian Hellman and directed by William Wyler. She was again nominated, this time for Irma la Douce (1963), which reunited her with Wilder and Lemmon. Don Siegel, her director on Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970) said of her: "It's hard to feel any great warmth to her. She's too unfeminine and has too much balls. She's very, very hard."[12]

in "Shirley MacLaine - Live at the Palace Theatre," 1976

In 1975, she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature for her documentary film The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir. Two years later, she was once again nominated for an Oscar for The Turning Point co-starring Anne Bancroft, in which she portrayed a retired ballerina much like herself. In 1978, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.[13] In 1980, she starred in A Change of Seasons alongside Anthony Hopkins. In 1983, she won an Oscar for Terms of Endearment, playing Debra Winger's mother. The film won another four Oscars; one for Jack Nicholson and three for director-screenwriter-producer James L. Brooks. In 1988, MacLaine won a Golden Globe for Best Actress (Drama) for Madame Sousatzka.

She continued to star in major films, such as Steel Magnolias with Sally Field, Julia Roberts and other stars. In 2000 she made her feature-film directorial debut and starred in Bruno, which was released to video as The Dress Code. Other notable films in which MacLaine has starred include Sweet Charity (1968); Being There (1979) with Peter Sellers; Postcards from the Edge (1990) with Meryl Streep, playing a fictionalized version of Debbie Reynolds with a screenplay by Reynolds's daughter, Carrie Fisher; Used People (1992) with Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates; Guarding Tess (1994) with Nicolas Cage; Mrs. Winterbourne (1996), with Ricki Lake and Brendan Fraser; Rumor Has It… (2005) with Kevin Costner and Jennifer Aniston; In Her Shoes with Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette; and Closing the Ring (2007) directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Christopher Plummer.

MacLaine has also appeared in numerous television projects including an autobiographical miniseries based upon the book Out on a Limb; The Salem Witch Trials; These Old Broads written by Carrie Fisher and co-starring Elizabeth Taylor, Debbie Reynolds, and Joan Collins; and Coco, a Lifetime production based on the life of Coco Chanel. She had a short-lived television sitcom called Shirley's World. She appeared in the third and fourth seasons of the British drama Downton Abbey as Martha Levinson, mother to Cora, Countess of Grantham (played by Elizabeth McGovern) and Harold Levinson (played by Paul Giamatti) in 2012–2013.[14][15]

MacLaine was awarded the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts in December 2013.[16] She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1617 Vine Street and in 1999 was awarded the Honorary Golden Bear at the 49th Berlin International Film Festival.[17]

In 2011, the government of France made her a Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur.

Personal life

MacLaine in Deauville, France, in September 1987

MacLaine was married to businessman Steve Parker from 1954 until their divorce in 1982; they have a daughter, Sachi. In April 2011, while promoting her new book, I'm Over All That, she revealed to Oprah Winfrey that she had an open relationship with her husband.[18] MacLaine also told Winfrey that she often fell for the leading men she worked with, with the exceptions of Jack Lemmon (The Apartment) and Jack Nicholson (Terms of Endearment).[19] Peter Sellers (Being There) even found MacLaine attractive.[20]

MacLaine has also gotten into feuds with such notable co-stars as Anthony Hopkins (A Change of Seasons), who said that "she was the most obnoxious actress I have ever worked with," and Debra Winger (Terms of Endearment).[2][21][22][23][24][25][26][27]

MacLaine has claimed that, in a previous life in Atlantis, she was the brother to a 35,000 year old spirit named Ramtha channeled by American mystic teacher and author J. Z. Knight.[28][29]

She has a strong interest in spirituality and metaphysics, the central theme of some of her best-selling books including Out on a Limb and Dancing in the Light. She has undertaken such forms of spiritual exploration as walking the Way of St. James, working with Chris Griscom,[30] and practicing Transcendental Meditation.[31]

Her well-known interest in New Age spirituality has also made its way into several of her films. In Albert Brooks's romantic comedy Defending Your Life (1991), the recently deceased lead characters, played by Brooks and Meryl Streep, are astonished to find MacLaine introducing their past lives in the "Past Lives Pavilion". In Postcards from the Edge (1990), MacLaine sings a version of "I'm Still Here", with customized lyrics created for her by composer Stephen Sondheim. One of the lyrics was changed to "I'm feeling transcendental – am I here?" In the television movie These Old Broads, MacLaine's character is a devotee of New Age spirituality.

She has an interest in UFOs, and gave numerous interviews on CNN, NBC and Fox news channels on the subject during 2007–2008. In her book Sage-ing While Age-ing (2007), she described alien encounters and witnessing of Washington, D.C. UFO incidents in the 1950s.[32] In the April 2011 edition of the Oprah show MacLaine stated that she and her neighbor observed numerous UFO incidents at her New Mexico ranch for extended periods of time.[33]

MacLaine is godmother to the daughter of former Democratic U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich.[34]

Along with her brother, Warren Beatty, MacLaine used her celebrity status in instrumental roles as a campaign for president in 1972.[35][36][37] That year, she authored the book McGovern: The Man and His Beliefs.[35]

On February 7, 2013, Penguin Group USA published Sachi Parker's autobiography Lucky Me: My Life With – and Without – My Mom, Shirley MacLaine.[38] MacLaine has called the book "virtually all fiction".[39]

In 2015, she sparked criticism for her comments on Jews, Christians, and Stephen Hawking.[40] In particular she claimed that victims of the Nazi Holocaust were experiencing the results of their own karma, and suggests that Hawking subconsciously caused himself to develop A.L.S. as a means to focus better on physics.[41]


Year Title Role Notes
1955 Trouble with Harry, TheThe Trouble with Harry Jennifer Rogers Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress
1955 Artists and Models Bessie Sparrowbrush
1956 Around the World in 80 Days Princess Aouda
1958 Some Came Running Ginnie Moorehead Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1958 Sheepman, TheThe Sheepman Dell Payton
1958 Hot Spell Virginia Duval
1958 Matchmaker, TheThe Matchmaker Irene Molloy
1959 Ask Any Girl Meg Wheeler BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress
Silver Bear for Best ActressBerlin International Film Festival[42]
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1959 Career Sharon Kensington
1960 Ocean's 11 Tipsy girl uncredited cameo
1960 Can-Can Simone Pistache
1960 Apartment, TheThe Apartment Fran Kubelik BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Volpi CupVenice International Film Festival
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actress
1961 Children's Hour, TheThe Children's Hour Martha Dobie Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1961 All in a Night's Work Katie Robbins
1961 Two Loves Anna Vorontosov
1962 Two for the Seesaw Gittel Mosca
1962 My Geisha Lucy Dell/Yoko Mori
1963 Irma la Douce Irma la Douce Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress
1964 Yellow Rolls-Royce, TheThe Yellow Rolls-Royce Mae Jenkins
1964 What a Way to Go! Louisa May Foster Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress
1965 John Goldfarb, Please Come Home Jenny Erichson
1966 Gambit Nicole Chang Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1967 Woman Times Seven Paulette/Maria Teresa/Linda/Edith/
Eve Minou/Marie/Jeanne
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1968 Bliss of Mrs. Blossom, TheThe Bliss of Mrs. Blossom Harriet Blossom
1969 Sweet Charity Charity Hope Valentine Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1970 Two Mules for Sister Sara Sara
1971 Desperate Characters Sophie Bentwood Silver Bear for Best Actress - Berlin International Film Festival[43]
1972 Possession of Joel Delaney, TheThe Possession of Joel Delaney Norah Benson
1975 Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir, TheThe Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir Herself Documentary; writer, co-director, producer
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary
1977 Turning Point, TheThe Turning Point Deedee Rodgers Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actress
1979 Being There Eve Rand Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1980 Change of Seasons, AA Change of Seasons Karyn Evans
1980 Loving Couples Evelyn
1983 Terms of Endearment Aurora Greenway Academy Award for Best Actress
David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
National Board of Review Award for Best Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
1984 Cannonball Run II Veronica
1987 Out on a Limb Herself Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
1988 Madame Sousatzka Madame Yuvline Sousatzka Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama (tied with Jodie Foster and Sigourney Weaver)
Volpi Cup - Venice International Film Festival
1989 Steel Magnolias Louisa "Ouiser" Boudreaux Nominated – American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
1990 Postcards from the Edge Doris Mann Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1990 Waiting for the Light Aunt Zena
1991 Defending Your Life "Past Lives Pavilion" host
1992 Used People Pearl Berman Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1993 Wrestling Ernest Hemingway Helen Cooney
1994 Guarding Tess Tess Carlisle Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1995 West Side Waltz, TheThe West Side Waltz Margaret Mary Elderdice
1996 Evening Star, TheThe Evening Star Aurora Greenway
1996 Mrs. Winterbourne Grace Winterbourne Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1997 A Smile Like Yours Martha uncredited
1999 Joan of Arc Madame de Beaurevoir
2000 The Dress Code Helen Also director
2001 These Old Broads Kate Westbourne
2002 Salem Witch Trials Rebecca Nurse
2002 Hell on Heels: The Battle of Mary Kay Mary Kay Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
2003 Carolina Grandma Millicent Mirabeau
2005 Rumor Has It… Katharine Richelieu
2005 Bewitched Iris Smythson/Endora
2005 In Her Shoes Ella Hirsch Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
2007 Closing the Ring Ethel Ann
2008 Coco Chanel Coco Chanel Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie[44]
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
2008 Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning Amelia Thomas
2010 Valentine's Day Estelle Paddington
2011 Bernie Marjorie Nugent
2013 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Edna Mitty
2014 Elsa & Fred Elsa Hayes
2015 Wild Oats Eva

Television work


  • (Published in Europe as: )


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^ New England Historic Genealogical Society
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Hanrihan v. Parker, 19 Misc. 2d 467, 469 (N.Y. Misc. 1959).
  12. ^ Patrick McGilligan, Clint: The Life and Legend (1999), p. 182
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
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  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
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  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ a b MacLaine, Shirley, McGovern: The Man and His Beliefs, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1972.
  36. ^ McGovern, George S., Grassroots: The Autobiography of George McGovern, New York: Random House, 1977, pp. 126, 172.
  37. ^ White, Theodore H., The Making of the President 1972, Atheneum Publishers, 1973, pp. 236, 258, 425.
  38. ^ at Penguin Group websiteLucky Me
  39. ^ Gostin, Nicki (February 12, 2013). "Shirley MacLaine's Daughter Says 'My Mom Thought My Dad Was Clone Astronaut'". Fox News.
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^ Shirley Maclaine Emmy Nominated

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