Shirley MacLaine’s distinguished career constitutes a string of spunky portrayals that have passed the test of time and a veritable list of collaborations with the big guns of Hollywood. This iconic actress’s body of work which spans a period of 40 years is marked by several dramatic appearances and several award-winning performances in every decade. This highly respected actress has played glamorous to quirky characters on Broadway musicals, television series and movies. She has entertained and enthralled audiences all over the world with her varied roles in films including, a small-town girl, a prostitute, a First Lady, a free-spirited hippy, a vulnerable elevator operator, an eccentric piano teacher and a fashion goddess. She has appeared in more than 60 films (and counting), penned 12 books, and directed documentaries and an indie drama. She has often faced criticism for her fascination with new-age beliefs, including out-of-body experiences, multiple reincarnations and interest in the paranormal. However, she shows no sign of slowing down. She is now easily recognizable in supporting roles in films and television shows as everyone’s favourite crazy aunt or a bubbly grandmother. If you would like to learn more about this interesting personality, scroll further.
Childhood & Early Life
Shirley MacLaine Beaty was born to Ira Owens Beatty, a professor of psychology and Kathlyn Corinne, a drama teacher. She was named after the actress, Shirley Temple. Both, Shirley and her brother were raised as Baptists.
Due to her weak ankles, her mother enrolled her to ballet classes when she was three years old. She was very fascinated by the dance form and never missed a single class. However, she quickly realized that she did not have the ideal build for ballet, since she was very tall and decided to act and learn other dance forms.
She studied at Washington-Lee High School, where she was cast in a number of school-productions and was also part of the cheer-leading group. Before getting into senior year, she experimented with Broadway in New York and was successful to some extent.
Upon graduation, she was given a role in ‘The Pajama Game’, a musical and was then subsequently signed up by Paramount Pictures.
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Shirley Maclaine garnered her first Golden Globe Award for her debut role as ‘Jennifer Rogers’ in Alfred Hitchcock’s, ‘The Trouble with Harry’ in 1955. She also received a BAFTA nomination for the same.
In 1956, she was cast in ‘Around the World in 80 Days’, and received her first Academy Award nomination for ‘Some Came Running’, released the next year.
In 1960, she was cast opposite Jack Lemmon in ‘The Apartment’, a critical and commercial success that cemented MacLaine’s reputation as one of the leading and most versatile actors of her time. She then appeared in a number of films including, ‘The Children’s Hour’, ‘Irma la Douce’ and ‘Two Mules for Sister Sara’.
In 1975, she wrote, produced and directed ‘The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir’, which was nominated for Academy Award in the best documentary category.
The 80s saw MacLaine in a string of challenging roles which garnered critical and commercial success including, ‘A Change of Seasons’, ‘Terms of Endearment’ ‘Madame Souzsatzka’ and ‘Steel Magnolias’.
In 1983, she authored, ‘Out on a Limb’, which discusses her journey through spirituality. The book was adapted for a television film with the same title, five years later.
The following decade saw her fiery performances in ‘Postcards from the Edge’ and ‘Waiting for the Light’, both of which were released, in 1990. A string of successes followed through the 90s with ‘Used People’, ‘Guarding Tess’ and ‘Mrs Winterbourne’.
She made her directorial debut with ‘Bruno’ in 2000 and she received nominations for her roles in ‘Hell on Heels: The Battle of May Kay’, ‘In her Shoes’ and ‘Coco Chanel’, throughout the new millennium.
She authored ‘I’m All Over That’: And Other Confessions’ in 2011, which became a best-seller offers an insight into her life and everything else related to love, marriage and home.
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Since 2012, she has been playing the role of Martha Levinson on the hit TV series, ‘Downtown Abbey’.
‘The Apartment’, released in 1960, was a critical and commercial success that amassed $25 million at the box office. For her performance as ‘Fran Kubelik’, she won a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and the Volpi Cup and was nominated for an Academy Award.
Her role as ‘Aurora Greenway’ in ‘Terms of Endearment’ in 1983 earned her several prestigious awards including an Academy Award. The movie collected a total of $108,423,489 in the United States alone.
Awards & Achievements
At the 49th Berlin International Film Festival in 1999, she was awarded an ‘Honorary Golden Bear’.
In 2012, the American Film Institute conferred upon this talented actress, the ‘40th AFI Lifetime Achievement Award’, the highest honor for a career in film.
MacLaine has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1165 Vine Street.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1972, she was engaged in George McGovern’s campaign for presidency.
While promoting her book ‘I’m Over All That’, MacLaine revealed to Oprah Winfrey, that she was in an open relationship with her husband Steve Parker, whom she divorced, in 1982. She has a daughter, Sachi and two grandchildren.
Just before this noted actress’s ballet performance in school, she broke her ankle while warming-up backstage, but proceeded to give her best shot on stage.
Between 2007 and 2008, this celebrated actress was interviewed several times by CNN, NBC and Fox new channels for her interests in UFOs.