Publicity photo of MacLaine in 1960 for The Apartment
Shirley MacLean Beaty
April 24, 1934
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
(m. 1954; div. 1982)
|Relatives||Warren Beatty (brother)|
Annette Bening (sister-in-law)
Shirley MacLaine (born Shirley MacLean Beaty; April 24, 1934) is an American film, television, and theater actress, singer, dancer, activist, and author. MacLaine's film career started in 1955 in Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller The Trouble With Harry. MacLaine was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performances in Some Came Running (1958), The Apartment (1960), Irma la Douce (1963), and The Turning Point (1977), before finally winning for Terms of Endearment (1983). MacLaine is one of the last surviving stars from Hollywood Golden Age and is also known for her film appearances in Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Sweet Charity (1969), Being There (1979), Steel Magnolias (1989), Postcards from the Edge (1990), Defending Your Life (1991), Guarding Tess (1994), In Her Shoes (2005), and Bernie (2011).
MacLaine has won numerous awards including two British Academy Film Awards, for Ask Any Girl (1959), and The Apartment (1960); as well as Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy-Variety or Music Special for the 1976 TV special, Gypsy In My Soul. She has also received 5 Golden Globe Awards, as well as the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1998. In 2012 MacLaine received the 40th AFI Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, and in 2013 she received the Kennedy Center Honors for her lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts. She has written a series of autobiographical works that describes her Hollywood career, her beliefs, as well as her world travels.. She is one of three actresses to have twice won the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival.
Named after actress Shirley Temple (who was six years old at the time), Shirley MacLean Beaty was born on April 24, 1934, in Richmond, Virginia. Her father, Ira Owens Beaty, 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. Their parents raised them as Baptists. Her uncle (her mother's brother-in-law) was A. A. MacLeod, a Communist member of the Ontario legislature in the 1940s. While MacLaine was still a child, Ira Beaty moved his family from Richmond to Norfolk, and then to Arlington and Waverly, then back to Arlington eventually taking a position at Arlington's Thomas Jefferson Junior High School in 1945. 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.
As a toddler, she had weak ankles and would fall over with the slightest misstep, so her mother decided to enroll her in ballet class at the Washington School of Ballet at the age of three. 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 then tightened the ribbons on her toe shoes and proceeded to dance the role all the way through before calling for an ambulance. 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. 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 of high school, MacLaine went to New York City to try acting on Broadway, having minor success in the chorus of Oklahoma! After she graduated, she returned and was in the dancing ensemble of the Broadway production of Me and Juliet (1953-1954). Afterwards she became an understudy to actress Carol Haney in The Pajama Game; in May 1954 Haney injured her ankle during a Wednesday matinee, and MacLaine replaced her. A few months later, with Haney still injured, film producer Hal B. Wallis saw MacLaine's performance, and signed her to work for Paramount Pictures.
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. This was quickly followed by her role in the Martin and Lewis film Artists and Models (also 1955). Soon afterwards, she had a role in Around the World in 80 Days (1956). This was followed by Hot Spell and a leading role in Some Came Running (both 1958); for the latter film, she gained her first Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe nomination.
In 1960, MacLaine starred in Billy Wilder's The Apartment (1960), alongside Jack Lemmon. The film, set in the Upper West Side, revolves around Bud Baxter (Lemmon) an insurance clerk who uses his apartment for his co-workers to use for their extramarital affairs. Bud is attracted to the insurance company's elevator operator, Fran Kubelik (MacLaine), who is already having an affair with Bud's boss (Fred MacMurray). The film was a blend of romantic drama and comedy that received mixed reviews from critics at the time; however, it gained critical acclaim from Roger Ebert who gave it four stars and added it to his Great Movies list in 2001. The film received 10 Academy Award nominations, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction (Black and White) and Best Film Editing. Despite being the odds-on favorite, MacLaine failed to win the Best Actress award. She later said, "I thought I would win for The Apartment, but then, Elizabeth Taylor [who won] had a tracheotomy." The film has become MacLaine's signature role with Charlize Theron praising her performance at the 89th Academy Awards describing it as "raw and real and funny", and that "[MacLaine] makes this black and white movie feel like it's in color".
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.
MacLaine devoted several pages in her first memoir, Don't Fall Off the Mountain (1970), to a 1963 incident in which she had marched into the Los Angeles office of The Hollywood Reporter and punched columnist Mike Connolly in the mouth. She was angered by what he had said in his column about her ongoing contractual dispute with producer Hal Wallis, who had introduced her to the movie industry in 1954 and whom she eventually sued successfully for violating the terms of their contract. The incident with Connolly garnered a headline on the cover of the New York Post on June 11, 1963. The full story appeared on page 5 under the headline "Shirley Delivers A Punchy Line" with the byline Bernard Lefkowitz.
At the peak of her success, she replaced Marilyn Monroe in two projects in which Monroe had planned, at the end of her life, to star: Irma la Douce (1963) and What a Way to Go! (1964). MacLaine worked with Michael Caine in Gambit (1966).
In 1969, MacLaine starred in the film version of the musical Sweet Charity, directed by Bob Fosse, and based on the script for Fellini's Nights of Cabiria released a decade earlier. Gwen Verdon, who originated the role onstage, had hoped to play Charity in the film version, however MacLaine won the role due to her name being more well known to audiences at the time. Verdon signed on as assistant choreographer, helping teach MacLaine the dances and leading the camera through some of the more intricate routines. MacLaine received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Comedy or Musical nomination. The film, while not a financial success, launched Fosse's film directing career with his next film being Cabaret (1972).
MacLaine was cast as a photojournalist in a short-lived television sitcom, Shirley's World (1971-1972), co-produced by Sheldon Leonard and ITC and shot in the United Kingdom. Her documentary film The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir (1975), co-directed with Claudia Weill, concentrates on the experiences of women in China. It was nominated for the year's Documentary Feature Oscar. In 1976 MacLaine appeared in a series of concerts at the London Palladium and New York's Palace Theatre. The latter of these was released as the acclaimed live album Shirley MacLaine Live at the Palace. Co-starring with Anne Bancroft in The Turning Point (1977), MacLaine portrayed a retired ballerina much like herself; she was nominated for an Oscar as the Best Actress in a Leading Role. 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.
In 1979 She starred alongside Peter Sellers in Hal Ashby's satirical film Being There. The film revolves around Chance (Sellers), a simpleminded, sheltered gardener, who becomes an unlikely trusted advisor to a powerful businessman and an insider in Washington politics, after his wealthy old boss dies. The film received widespread acclaim with Roger Ebert writing that he admired the film "for having the guts to take this totally weird conceit and push it to its ultimate comic conclusion". Despite receiving an Academy Award nomination, MacLaine received a British Academy Film Award, and Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance.
In 1980, MacLaine starred in A Change of Seasons (1980) alongside Anthony Hopkins. The two famously did not get along with each other and the film was not a success due to what critics faulted as the screenplay. MacLaine however did receive positive notices from critics. Vincent Canby wrote in his The New York Times review that the film "exhibits no sense of humor and no appreciation for the ridiculous … the screenplay [is] often dreadful … the only appealing performance is Miss MacLaine's, and she's too good to be true. A Change of Seasons does prove one thing, though. A farce about characters who've been freed of their conventional obligations quickly becomes aimless."
In 1983, MacLaine starred in James L. Brooks's comedy-drama film Terms of Endearment (1983) playing Debra Winger's mother. The film focuses on the strained relationship between mother and daughter over 30 years. The film also starred Jack Nicholson, Jeff Daniels, and John Lithgow. The film was a major critical and commercial success, grossing $108.4 million at the domestic box office and becoming the second-highest-grossing film of 1983. The film received a leading eleven nominations at the 56th Academy Awards, and won five including Best Picture. MacLaine earned her first Academy Award for her performance.
MacLaine has continued to star in major films, such as the family southern drama Steel Magnolias (1989) directed by Herbert Ross and also starring with Sally Field, Julia Roberts, and Dolly Parton. The film focuses around a bond that a group of women share in a small-town Southern community, and how they cope with the death of a loved one. The film was a box office success earning $96.8 million off a budget of $15 million. MacLaine received a British Academy Film Award for her performance. She starred in Mike Nichols' film Postcards from the Edge (1990), with Meryl Streep, playing a fictionalized version of Debbie Reynolds from a screenplay by Reynolds's daughter, Carrie Fisher. Fisher wrote the screenplay based on her book. MacLaine received another Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance.
MacLaine continued to act in films such as Used People (1992), with Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates; Guarding Tess (1994), with Nicolas Cage; Mrs. Winterbourne (1996), with Ricki Lake and Brendan Fraser; The Evening Star (1996); Rumor Has It...(2005) with Kevin Costner and Jennifer Aniston; In Her Shoes (also 2005), with Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette; and Closing the Ring (2007), directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Christopher Plummer. She would later reunited with Plummer in the 2014 comedy film Elsa & Fred directed by Michael Radford. In 2000, she made her feature-film directorial debut, and starred in Bruno, which was released to video as The Dress Code. In 2011 MacLaine starred in Richard Linklater's dark comedy film Bernie alongside Jack Black, and Matthew McConaughey.
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. In 2009, she starred in Coco Before Chanel, a Lifetime production based on the life of Coco Chanel which earned her Primetime Emmy Award, and Golden Globe Award nominations. She appeared in the third and fourth seasons of the acclaimed 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.
In 2016, MacLaine starred in Wild Oats with Jessica Lange. In February 2016, it was announced that MacLaine will star in the live-action family film A Little Mermaid, based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, to be produced by MVP Studios.
MacLaine was married to businessman Steve Parker from 1954 until their divorce in 1982; they have a daughter, Sachi. When Sachi was in her late twenties, she learned that her mother believed that her father Steve was not her real father but a clone of the real one, an astronaut named Paul.
In April 2011, while promoting her new book, I'm Over All That, she revealed to Oprah Winfrey that she had had an open relationship with her husband. MacLaine also told Winfrey that she often fell for the leading men she worked with, with the exceptions of Jack Lemmon (The Apartment, Irma la Douce) and Jack Nicholson (Terms of Endearment). MacLaine also had a long-running affair with Australian politician and two-time Liberal leader Andrew Peacock.
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).
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, and practicing Transcendental Meditation.
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 2001 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 2007-08. In her book Sage-ing While Age-ing (2007), she described alien encounters and witnessing a Washington, D.C. UFO incident in the 1950s. On an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show in April 2011, MacLaine stated that she and her neighbor observed numerous UFO incidents at her New Mexico ranch for extended periods of time.
Along with her brother, Warren Beatty, MacLaine used her celebrity status in instrumental roles as a fundraiser and organizer for George McGovern's campaign for president in 1972. That year, she wrote the book McGovern: The Man and His Beliefs. She appeared at her brother's concerts Four for McGovern and Together for McGovern, and she joined with Sid Bernstein to produce the woman-focused Star-Spangled Women for McGovern-Shriver variety show at Madison Square Garden.
On February 7, 2013, Penguin Group USA published Sachi Parker's autobiography Lucky Me: My Life With - and Without - My Mom, Shirley MacLaine. MacLaine has called the book "virtually all fiction".
In 2015, she sparked criticism for her comments on Jews, Christians, and Stephen Hawking. In particular she claimed that victims of the Holocaust were experiencing the results of their own karma, and suggested that Hawking subconsciously caused himself to develop ALS as a means to focus better on physics.
In 1966, MacLaine sued Twentieth Century-Fox for breach of contract when the studio reneged on its agreement to star MacLaine in a film version of the Broadway musical Bloomer Girl based on the life of Amelia Bloomer, a mid-nineteenth century feminist, suffragist, and abolitionist, that was to be filmed in Hollywood. Instead, Fox gave MacLaine one week to accept their offer of the female dramatic lead in the Western Big Country, Big Man to be filmed in Australia. The case was decided in MacLaine's favor, and affirmed on appeal by the California Supreme Court in 1970; the case is often cited in law-school textbooks as a major example of employment-contract law.
|1955||The Trouble with Harry||Jennifer Rogers||Alfred Hitchcock|
|1955||Artists and Models||Bessie Sparrowbrush||Frank Tashlin|
|1956||Around the World in 80 Days||Princess Aouda||Michael Anderson|
|1958||Some Came Running||Ginnie Moorehead||Vincente Minnelli|
|1958||The Sheepman||Dell Payton||George Marshall|
|1958||Hot Spell||Virginia Duval||Daniel Mann|
|1958||The Matchmaker||Irene Molloy||Joseph Anthony|
|1959||Ask Any Girl||Meg Wheeler||Charles Walters|
|1959||Career||Sharon Kensington||Joseph Anthony|
|1960||Ocean's 11||Tipsy woman||Lewis Milestone||Uncredited cameo|
|1960||Can-Can||Simone Pistache||Walter Lang|
|1960||The Apartment||Fran Kubelik||Billy Wilder|
|1961||The Children's Hour||Martha Dobie||William Wyler|
|1961||All in a Night's Work||Katie Robbins||Joseph Anthony|
|1961||Two Loves||Anna Vorontosov||Charles Walters|
|1962||Two for the Seesaw||Gittel Mosca||Robert Wise|
|1962||My Geisha||Lucy Dell/Yoko Mori||Jack Cardiff|
|1963||Irma la Douce||Irma la Douce||Billy Wilder|
|1964||The Yellow Rolls-Royce||Mae Jenkins||Anthony Asquith|
|1964||What a Way to Go!||Louisa May Foster||J. Lee Thompson|
|1965||John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!||Jenny Erichson|
|1966||Gambit||Nicole Chang||Ronald Neame|
|1967||Woman Times Seven||Paulette/Maria Teresa/Linda/
|Vittorio De Sica|
|1968||The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom||Harriet Blossom||Joseph McGrath|
|1969||Sweet Charity||Charity Hope Valentine||Bob Fosse|
|1970||Two Mules for Sister Sara||Sara||Don Siegel|
|1971||Desperate Characters||Sophie Bentwood||Frank D. Gilroy|
|1972||The Possession of Joel Delaney||Norah Benson||Waris Hussein|
|1975||The Other Half of the Sky:
A China Memoir
|Shirley MacLaine||Shirley MacLaine
writer, co-director, producer
|1977||The Turning Point||Deedee Rodgers||Herbert Ross|
|1979||Being There||Eve Rand||Hal Ashby|
|1980||A Change of Seasons||Karyn Evans||Richard Lang|
|1980||Loving Couples||Evelyn||Jack Smight|
|1983||Terms of Endearment||Aurora Greenway||James L. Brooks|
|1984||Cannonball Run II||Veronica||Hal Needham|
|1988||Madame Sousatzka||Madame Yuvline Sousatzka||John Schlesinger|
|1989||Steel Magnolias||Louisa "Ouiser" Boudreaux||Herbert Ross|
|1990||Postcards from the Edge||Doris Mann||Mike Nichols|
|1990||Waiting for the Light||Aunt Zena||Christopher Monger|
|1991||Defending Your Life||Shirley MacLaine||Albert Brooks|
|1992||Used People||Pearl Berman||Robert Zemeckis|
|1993||Wrestling Ernest Hemingway||Helen Cooney||Randa Haines|
|1994||Guarding Tess||Tess Carlisle||Hugh Wilson|
|1996||The Evening Star||Aurora Greenway||Robert Harling|
|1996||Mrs. Winterbourne||Grace Winterbourne||Richard Benjamin|
|1997||A Smile Like Yours||Martha||Keith Samples||Uncredited|
|2000||The Dress Code||Helen||Shirley MacLaine||Also director|
|2001||These Old Broads||Kate Westbourne||Matthew Diamond|
|2003||Carolina||Grandma Millicent Mirabeau||Marleen Gorris|
|2005||Rumor Has It...||Katharine Richelieu||Rob Reiner|
|2005||Bewitched||Iris Smythson/Endora||Nora Ephron|
|2005||In Her Shoes||Ella Hirsch||Curtis Hanson|
|2007||Closing the Ring||Ethel Ann Harris||Richard Attenborough|
|2010||Valentine's Day||Estelle Paddington||Garry Marshall|
|2011||Bernie||Marjorie Nugent||Richard Linklater|
|2013||The Secret Life of Walter Mitty||Edna Mitty||Ben Stiller|
|2014||Elsa & Fred||Elsa Hayes||Michael Radford|
|2016||Wild Oats||Eva||Andy Tennant|
|2017||The Last Word||Harriett Lauler||Mark Pellington|
|2018||The Little Mermaid||Grandmother Eloise||Blake Harris
|2019||Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver||Mrs. Grindtooth||Dennis Gansel||Voice (English version)|
|2019||Noelle||Elf Polly||Marc Lawrence|
|1955||Shower of Stars||Herself||2 episodes|
|1976||Gypsy in my Soul||Herself||Television special with Lucille Ball|
|1971-72||Shirley's World||Shirley Logan||17 episodes|
|1977||The Shirley MacLaine Special:
Where Do We Go From Here?
|1979||Shirley MacLaine at the Lido||Herself||Television special|
|1987||Out on a Limb||Shirley MacLaine||Television Movie|
|1995||The West Side Waltz||Margaret Mary Elderdice||Television Movie|
|1998||Stories from My Childhood||Narrator||Episode: "The Nutcracker"|
|1999||Joan of Arc||Madame de Beaurevoir||2 episodes|
|2002||Salem Witch Trials||Rebecca Nurse||Television Movie|
|2002||The Battle of Mary Kay||Mary Kay||Television Movie|
|2008||Coco Chanel||Coco Chanel||Television Movie|
|2008||Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning||Amelia Thomas||Television Movie|
|2012-13||Downton Abbey||Martha Levinson||3 episodes|
|2014||Glee||June Dolloway||2 episodes|
|2016||A Heavenly Christmas||Pearl||Television Movie|
|1953||Me and Juliet||Dance Ensemble||Majestic Theatre, Broadway|||
|1954||The Pajama Game||Dancer/Gladys||Shubert Theatre, Broadway|
|1976||Shirley MacLaine||Herself||Palace Theatre, Broadway|
|1984||Shirley MacLaine on Broadway||Herself||Gershwin Theatre, Broadway|
|1959||Academy Award||Best Actress||Some Came Running||Nominated|||
|1964||Irma la Douce||Nominated|
|1976||Best Documentary||The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir||Nominated|
|1978||Best Actress||The Turning Point||Nominated|
|1984||Terms of Endearment||Won|
|1957||British Academy Film Awards||Best Foreign Actress||The Trouble with Harry||Nominated|||
|1960||Ask Any Girl||Won|
|1965||Irma la Douce
What a Way to Go!
|1981||Best Actress||Being There||Nominated|
|1985||Terms of Endearment||Nominated|
|1991||Postcards from the Edge||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Steel Magnolias||Nominated|
|1956||Golden Globe Award||Most Promising Newcomer - Female||The Trouble with Harry||Won|||
|1959||Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama||Some Came Running||Nominated|
|1960||Best Actress - Motion Picture Comedy or Musical||Ask Any Girl||Nominated|
|1962||Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama||The Children's Hour||Nominated|
|1964||Best Actress - Motion Picture Comedy or Musical||Irma la Douce||Won|
|1968||Woman Times Seven||Nominated|
|1984||Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama||Terms of Endearment||Won|
|1988||Best Actress - Miniseries or Television Film||Out on a Limb||Nominated|
|1989||Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama||Madame Sousatzka||Won|
|1991||Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture||Postcards from the Edge||Nominated|
|1993||Best Actress - Motion Picture Comedy or Musical||Used People||Nominated|
|1998||Cecil B. DeMille Award||N/A||Won|
|2003||Best Actress - Miniseries or Television Film||Hell on Heels: The Battle of Mary Kay||Nominated|
|2006||Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture||In Her Shoes||Nominated|
|2009||Best Actress - Miniseries or Television Film||Coco Chanel||Nominated|
|1975||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Variety Special||Shirley MacLaine:
If They Could See Me Now
|1976||Gypsy in My Soul||Won|
|1977||The Shirley MacLaine Special:
Where Do We Go from Here?
|1979||Outstanding Variety Program||Shirley MacLaine at the Lido||Nominated|
'Every Little Movement'
|2009||Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie||Coco Chanel||Nominated|
|2009||Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie||Coco Chanel||Nominated|
|1960||Venice Film Festival||Volpi Cup for Best Actress||The Apartment||Won|||