Kathy Bates Biography

(Actress and Director Known for Her Films: 'Misery', ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ and ‘Dolores Claiborne’)

Birthday: June 28, 1948 (Cancer)

Born In: Memphis, Tennessee, United States

Kathy Bates is one of the most celebrated American actors in the film fraternity and theatre groups. Bates's love for acting was discovered when she was in high school, participating in school dramas. The feel-at-home feeling on stage led her to think about the artistic genre seriously as she took up a course in drama and theatre in college. Very soon, she opted to be a part of the glitzy world professionally. Despite being sumptuously talented and skilled, Bates's career took off with a slow start. At the beginning of her acting career, she took up minor roles in films and television series. She did not give up on her love for theatre and did a couple of shows. After about 20 years of being in the entertainment industry, Kathy Bates struck it big with the film, ‘Misery’ which opened the road to success. She won an Academy Award for her outstanding performance. She followed this up with several successful and hit blockbusters such as ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’, ‘Dolores Caliborne’, ‘Titanic’, ‘Primary Colors’, ‘About Schmidt’, and ‘P.S. I Love You’ and so on. She made guest appearances in several television miniseries. Furthermore, she has even donned the hat of a director for a couple of television shows.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Kathleen Doyle Bates

Age: 76 Years, 76 Year Old Females


Spouse/Ex-: Tony Campisi (m. 1991–1997)

father: Langdon Doyle Bates

mother: Bertye Kathleen

siblings: Mary Bates, Patricia Bates

Born Country: United States

Actresses Directors

Height: 5'3" (160 cm), 5'3" Females

U.S. State: Tennessee

Notable Alumni: White Station High School

Ancestry: Irish American

City: Memphis, Tennessee

More Facts

education: Southern Methodist University, White Station High School

  • 1

    What are some popular movies starring Kathy Bates?

    Some popular movies starring Kathy Bates include "Misery," "Fried Green Tomatoes," "Dolores Claiborne," "Titanic," and "About Schmidt."
  • 2

    Has Kathy Bates ever won an Oscar for her acting?

    Yes, Kathy Bates won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the movie "Misery."
  • 3

    Is Kathy Bates known for her work in both film and television?

    Yes, Kathy Bates is known for her versatile acting career in both film and television, with notable roles in various genres.
  • 4

    Does Kathy Bates have a reputation for portraying strong and complex female characters?

    Yes, Kathy Bates is often praised for her portrayals of strong and complex female characters, showcasing her talent and range as an actress.
  • 5

    Has Kathy Bates received critical acclaim for her performances in horror films?

    Yes, Kathy Bates has received critical acclaim for her performances in horror films, particularly for her role as Annie Wilkes in "Misery."
Childhood & Early Life

Kathy Bates was born Kathleen Doyle ‘Kathy’ Bates to Bertye Kathleen and Langdon Doyle Bates. While her mother was a homemaker, her father was employed as a mechanical engineer. She was the youngest of the three daughters born to the couple.

She completed her formal education at White Station High School. It was while at school that she discovered her hidden talent and affinity for acting. With an aim to make a career out of her talent, she enrolled at Southern Methodist University.

She graduated from the university in 1969 majoring in theatre and drama. At university, she was a prominent member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority.

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After completing her education, she moved to New York to pursue a career in acting. Meanwhile, she took up odd jobs in the city to make a living. From working as a singing waiter in a famous resort to working as a cashier at the New York Museum, she did not shy away from menial work.

She first secured a role for herself opposite Christopher Walken at Buffalo's Studio Arena Theatre in Lanford Wilson's world premiere of ‘Lemon Sky’. However, to her dismay, the show relocated to New York’s off-Broadway Playhouse Theatre without her.

Not the one to be disheartened quickly, she did not give up. By the mid-1970s, she gained a name for herself and rising popularity among New York’s regional theatre scene through some exceptional performances in shows like, ‘Casserole’ and ‘A Quality of Mercy’.

Meanwhile, she made a foray into the big screen with the film ‘Taking Off’. However, she was wrongly credited as Bobo Bates.

Continuing in theatre, it was her performance as Joanne in the theatre show, ‘Vanities’ that proclaimed her to fame. The show highlighted her acting prowess and immense talent as a performer.

She earned her first Broadway performance for the 1980’s show, ‘Goodbye Fidel’. Lasting only six performances, she followed this up by taking up a replacement role in the well-established and highly successful drama, ‘Fifth of July’ in 1981.

She starred opposite Karen Black and Cher in the Robert Altman-directed theatrical release, ‘Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean’. The success of the drama led to the release of a film version of the same in 1982. The film earned Bates her first big-screen success, as the audience now recognized and noticed her.

In 1983, she starred in the Pulitzer-prize-winning play, ‘Night, Mother’ opposite Anne Pitoniak. She also received her first Tony Award for her performance in the play. She followed this up with ‘Off Broadway’ and Terrence McNally's ‘Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune’, the latter of which ran for 533 performances.

In 1988, she succeeded Amy Irving in the off-Broadway production of ‘The Road to Mecca’. Despite having a super successful theatre career, big-screen fame eluded her. She failed to receive offers to portray her award-winning stage characters on the screen.

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Eventually, in 1990, luck smiled on her and she bagged the role of an obsessed fan Annie Wilkes, who kidnaps her favorite author and subjects him to a series of horrific tortures, in the film, ‘Misery’. Her exceptional performance and panache for acting not only won her critical acclaim and popularity but the prestigious Academy Award as well.

Other films released for the year include, ‘Dick Tracy’, ‘Men Don’t Leave’, ‘White Palace’ and so on. She followed these up with the 1991 acclaimed movie, ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ in which she starred along with Jessica Tandy. In the film, she played the character of Evelyn Couch.

In 1992, she reprised her theatre role in the film version of the play, ‘The Road to Mecca’. Other films released during this time include, ‘Prelude to a Kiss’, ‘Used People’, ‘A Home of Our Own’, ‘North’, Curse of the Starving Class’ and so on.

In 1995, she played the titular character of Dolores Claiborne in the film adaptation of the Stephen King novel, ‘Dolores Claiborne’. Her performance in the film was much appreciated.

While most of her films did well at the box office, the exceptional blockbuster performance seemed quite illusive. It was then that she played the character of Molly Brown in James Cameron's flick, ‘Titanic’, which was based on the sinking of the RMS Titanic of 1912. The film broke all records, chronicling a humongous US$1.8 billion and more at the box office.

Taking the success story forward, she played the character of an acid-tongued political advisor Libby Holden in the film, ‘Primary Colors’. Adapted from a book in which political journalist Joe Klein gave an account of his experiences on the Presidential campaign trail, the film was a major success and earned her a nomination at the Academy Awards.

Towards the end of the 1990s and beginning of the 2000 decade, she came up with several films such as ‘The Waterboy’, ‘A Civil Action’, ‘Bruno’, ‘American Outlaws’, ‘Dragonfly’ and ‘Love Liza’. She even did several television films like, ‘Annie’ and ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ and short films like ‘Baby Steps’.

In 2002, she starred in the film, ‘About Schmidt’ for which she gained her third Academy Award nomination. In the film, she was cast opposite Jack Nicholas. Following this, she was a part of the star cast of a number of movies such as ‘Around the World in 80 Days’, ‘Unconditional Love’, ‘Failure to Launch,’ and ‘Relative Strangers’.

Meanwhile, she did several uncredited roles and played various characters in short films, documentaries, television films, miniseries, and so on. She gave her voice to a couple of animation films like, ‘Bee Movie’, ‘Charlotte’s Web’, ‘The Golden Compass’ and ‘Christmas is Here Again’.

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Other than acting, she diversified her established and highly successful career by wearing the cap of the director for television series such as ‘Homicide: Life on the Street’, ‘NYPD Blue’, ‘Oz’, ‘Six Feet Under’, and ‘Everwood’. She even went on to direct television films like, ‘Dash and Lilly’ and ‘Ambulance Girl’.

From 2010 to 2011, she took up a recurring role in the popular comedy series, ‘The Office’. Subsequently, she starred in the legal drama, ‘Henry’s Law’ which lasted for two seasons. She played the character of writer Gertrude Stein in Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’.

In 2012, she made a guest appearance in the show, ‘Two and A Half Men’ on the episode ‘Why We Gave Up Women’ as the ghost of Charlie Harper. The role went on to earn her first Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, after nine nominations.

In 2013, she starred in the third season of the ‘American Horror Story series: Coven’ as Delphine LaLaurie, an immortal racist. The following year, she played the role of ‘Ethel Darling’ in the fourth season of ‘American Horror Story.’

She was next seen in films and television series like ‘Boychoir,’ ‘The Great Gilly Hopkins,’ ‘American Horror Story: Hotel,’ ‘Complete Unknown,’ ‘Bad Santa 2,’ ‘Krystal,’ and ‘The Death and Life of John F. Donovan.’

In 2018, she portrayed ‘Dorothy Kenyon’ in the American biographical legal drama film ‘On the Basis of Sex’ directed by Mimi Leder. The film opened to a positive reception and grossed over $38.8 million on a budget of $20 million. She next played the role of ‘Miriam A. Ferguson’ in the 2019 American period crime thriller film ‘The Highwaymen.’ The film holds a 58% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

She next starred in ‘Richard Jewell,’ ‘Home,’ and ‘Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.’ In 2023, she appeared in the Thaddeus O'Sullivan-directed drama film ‘The Miracle Club.’ The film had its premiere at the Tribeca Festival and received mostly positive reviews from critics.

Bates will be next seen in the upcoming American romantic comedy film ‘A Family Affair.’ She will also star in the upcoming television series ‘Matlock.’

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Awards & Achievements

In her four and a half decades of career, she has won numerous prestigious awards in various categories. Some of the prominent awards won by her include Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, American Comedy Awards, Primetime Emmy Awards, and so on.

Other than acting and directing, she chairs the Executive Committee Chair of the Actors Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 2003, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer which she successfully overcame. In 2012, she underwent a double mastectomy to treat breast cancer.

She married Tony Campisi in 1991. However, the couple got divorced in 1997.

Facts About Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates is a self-proclaimed "avid collector of rubber duckies." 

She is known for her love of gardening and has a green thumb, often spending time tending to her plants and flowers in her free time.
Kathy Bates is a talented singer and has performed in various musicals throughout her career, showcasing her versatile talents beyond acting.
She is a passionate advocate for animal rights and has been involved in various campaigns to raise awareness about animal welfare issues.
Kathy Bates is an accomplished director and has helmed several projects in addition to her acting roles, showcasing her multifaceted skills in the entertainment industry.

Kathy Bates Movies

1. A Home of Our Own (1993)

  (Biography, Drama)

2. Misery (1990)

  (Crime, Drama, Thriller)

3. Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)


4. Dolores Claiborne (1995)

  (Thriller, Crime, Mystery, Drama)

5. The Blind Side (2009)

  (Drama, Sport, Biography)

6. Titanic (1997)

  (Drama, Romance)

7. Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)

  (Drama, Comedy)

8. Straight Time (1978)

  (Crime, Drama)

9. Taking Off (1971)

  (Music, Comedy, Drama)

10. Midnight in Paris (2011)

  (Romance, Comedy, Fantasy)


Academy Awards(Oscars)
1991 Best Actress in a Leading Role Misery (1990)
Golden Globe Awards
1997 Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television The Late Shift (1996)
1991 Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama Misery (1990)
Primetime Emmy Awards
2014 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie American Horror Story (2011)
2012 Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Two and a Half Men (2003)

See the events in life of Kathy Bates in Chronological Order

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