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Piper Laurie

Piper Laurie

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Also Known As: Rosetta Jacobs Died:
Born: January 22, 1932 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Detroit, Michigan, USA Profession: actor, sculptor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of the most celebrated and formidable actresses of the last half-century, Piper Laurie was an Emmy winner and Oscar nominee who gave full-blooded performances as flawed, often ferocious women in "The Hustler" (1961), "Carrie" (1976) and "The Bunker" (NBC, 1981). A contract with Universal in 1950 forced her to play ingénue roles, but she balked at the typecasting and headed to New York to learn her craft; upon her return, she netted an Oscar nomination as Paul Newman⿿s bitter lover in "The Hustler." Over the course of an on-again, off-again career, she garnered a reputation as an uncompromising performer willing to tackle unglamorous roles, like her religious fanatic in "Carrie," or eccentric ones, like the vengeful Catherine Martell in David Lynch⿿s "Twin Peaks" (ABC, 1990-91). Nominated numerous times for both Oscars and Emmys, Laurie continued to impress and amaze audiences into her seventh decade with performances in "Hounddog" (2007) and "Hesher" (2010), which served as potent reminders of her legacy as one of Hollywood⿿s most accomplished and unique talents.She was born Rosetta Jacobs in Detroit, MI on Jan. 22, 1933 Her parents ⿿ father Alfred Jacobs, a furniture dealer who came to...

One of the most celebrated and formidable actresses of the last half-century, Piper Laurie was an Emmy winner and Oscar nominee who gave full-blooded performances as flawed, often ferocious women in "The Hustler" (1961), "Carrie" (1976) and "The Bunker" (NBC, 1981). A contract with Universal in 1950 forced her to play ingénue roles, but she balked at the typecasting and headed to New York to learn her craft; upon her return, she netted an Oscar nomination as Paul Newman⿿s bitter lover in "The Hustler." Over the course of an on-again, off-again career, she garnered a reputation as an uncompromising performer willing to tackle unglamorous roles, like her religious fanatic in "Carrie," or eccentric ones, like the vengeful Catherine Martell in David Lynch⿿s "Twin Peaks" (ABC, 1990-91). Nominated numerous times for both Oscars and Emmys, Laurie continued to impress and amaze audiences into her seventh decade with performances in "Hounddog" (2007) and "Hesher" (2010), which served as potent reminders of her legacy as one of Hollywood⿿s most accomplished and unique talents.

She was born Rosetta Jacobs in Detroit, MI on Jan. 22, 1933 Her parents â¿¿ father Alfred Jacobs, a furniture dealer who came to American from Poland, and her mother, Charlotte Alperin, a Russian-American â¿¿ moved the family to Los Angeles when she was six. Laurie was shy as a child, so her parents enrolled her in elocution and acting lessons, which sparked an interest in performance. The 17-year-old was discovered at an acting school by agents from Universal, and signed to a contract with the studio, which pressed her into perky, girl-next-door roles that emphasized her pixyish frame and physical charms â¿¿ an image sold in part by ludicrous press releases that stated she took milk baths and dined on gardenia petals. Her debut came in the 1950 comedy "Louisa," with Ronald Reagan, who briefly became her offscreen boyfriend. For the next five years, Laurie slogged through countless comedies, lightweight dramas, and costume epics, many of which paired her with fellow up-and-comer Tony Curtis, like "Son of Ali Baba" (1952). By 1955, however, Laurie was fed up with the quality of projects, and despite her $2,000 a week salary, reportedly walked out on her contract to study acting in New York City. Her timing was excellent â¿¿ Universal, like most of the major studios, was ending its contract player system, and after three more dismal pictures, Laurie was able to walk away from Hollywood unscathed.

She quickly immersed herself into the world of live television, where her talents blossomed at a spectacular rate. Laurie distinguished herself with immersive performances in "The Deaf Heart" (1957) for "Studio One" (CBS, 1948-1958), and as Cliff Robertsonâ¿¿s alcoholic wife in "Days of Wine and Roses" for "Playhouse 90" (CBS, 1956-1961). The acclaim was a build-up to her first genuine star-making role as Sarah Packard, the alcoholic, self-loathing college girl who falls in love with Paul Newmanâ¿¿s Fast Eddie Felson in "The Hustler" (1961). Her searing performance earned her an Oscar nomination, and vaulted her to the top of her profession â¿¿ light years from where she was in the Hollywood market less than a decade before. However, Laurieâ¿¿s tenure at the top would be brief. In the years immediately following "The Hustler," she worked exclusively in television dramas, and when the anthology format faded, she transitioned to guest roles on television series like "Ben Casey" (ABC, 1961-66) before exiting the business altogether. While on the set of "The Hustler," Laurie had met New York Herald film critic Joseph Morgenstern, and the couple was married in 1962. By 1964, she had moved with Morgenstern to Woodstock, NY, where she concerned herself with raising their daughter, baking and working in various art mediums. She would not act again for another three years, until tackling the role of Laura in the 20th anniversary production of "The Glass Menagerie" on Broadway in 1967, and later in John Guareâ¿¿s "Marco Polo Sings a Solo" in 1973.

Three more years would pass until Laurie would venture back to Hollywood, and her return this time was an explosive one. Director Brian De Palma cast her as Margaret White, the fiercely religious and unbalanced mother of Sissy Spacekâ¿¿s "Carrie" (1976). The supernatural horror film was a major success at the box office, and Laurieâ¿¿s performance once again netted an Oscar nomination, as well as a nod from the Golden Globes. From that point on, Laurieâ¿¿s career went into overdrive, with exemplary dramatic turns in nearly every project she tackled â¿¿ from the mother of a comatose girl in "In The Matter of Karen Ann Quinlan" (NBC, 1977) to the wife of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels in "The Bunker," which earned her an Emmy nomination. A fourth nomination came as a kindly woman who takes in Rachel Wardâ¿¿s pregnant Meggie in the monster hit miniseries, "The Thorn Birds" (ABC, 1983), and a fifth nod came in 1983 for a three-episode arc as a stroke victim opposite Alan Arkin on "St. Elsewhere" (NBC, 1982-86). She finally claimed the trophy in 1986 with "Promise," a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" (NBC/CBS/PBS, 1951- ) presentation as a former girlfriend of James Garner who aids him in taking care of his schizophrenic brother (James Woods) after the death of their mother.

The honors continued to roll in for Laurie in the mid-1980s; in 1987, she received her third Oscar nomination as Marlee Matlinâ¿¿s cold-hearted mother in "Children of a Lesser God," and from 1990 to 1991, she played perhaps her most eccentric character to date â¿¿ the unscrupulous Catherine Martell on David Lynchâ¿¿s "Twin Peaks" (ABC, 1990-1991). The owner of the local mill, she planned to destroy the location for its insurance money, but was double-crossed and appeared to die in a fire at the end of the showâ¿¿s first season. But by season two, Martell was revealed to be the true identity of the mysterious Mr. Tojamura, who helped to bring her murder plotters to justice. For the episodes in which she played Tojamura, Laurie wore extraordinarily heavy makeup and was billed as "Fumio Yamaguchi." She received two Emmy nominations for her jaw-dropping performance on the series.

Laurie worked steadily through the 1990s, drawing respectable reviews for features like "Other Peopleâ¿¿s Money" (1991), "Wrestling Ernest Hemingway" (1993), Sean Pennâ¿¿s "The Crossing Guard" (1995) and "The Grass Harp" (1995), which reunited her with Spacek, though this time as sisters. Television was a frequent destination as well, most notably in acclaimed movies like "The Road to Galveston" (USA Network, 1996), Horton Footeâ¿¿s "Alone" (Showtime, 1997), the 1997 remake of the Truman Capote-penned "A Christmas Memory" (CBS) and a 1999 adaptation of "Inherit the Wind" for Showtime, with Laurie as the wife of George C. Scott. She was also no stranger to episodic television as well; in 1999, she picked up her ninth Emmy nomination for an episode of "Frasier" (NBC, 1993-2004) as the terrifying estranged mother of a radio talk show shrink patterned after Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

Laurieâ¿¿s knack for finding challenging material went unabated into the new millennium. In the underrated black comedy "Eulogy" (2004), she was the matriarch of a large and highly dysfunctional brood who come together to memorialize their late father, while "The Dead Girl" (2006) cast her once again as a monstrous mother, this time to an unbalanced Toni Collette. She was the stern grandmother of underage rape victim Dakota Fanning in the controversial "Hounddog" (2007), and in the Sundance Film Festival favorite "Hesher" (2010), she portrayed the physically weak but wise grandmother to another malfunctioning brood. In the latter, Laurieâ¿¿s turn garnered some of her best reviews in years, most notably for a scene in which she peels away the tough protective shell of the title character (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an aggressive, anarchistic thug, by sharing a bong with him.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
3.
 Hesher (2010)
4.
 Hounddog (2007)
5.
 Dead Girl, The (2006)
6.
 Eulogy (2004) Charlotte "Grandma" Collins
7.
 Midwives (2001) Cheryl Visco
8.
 Last Brickmaker in America, The (2001) Ruth Anne
9.
 Possessed (2000) Aunt Hanna
10.
 Palmer's Pick-Up (1999) Evangelist
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Began acting career on stage at age three
:
Family moved to Los Angeles when Laurie was six; she was placed in a Los Angeles children's home by her parents to keep her asthmatic sister company
:
Acted in school plays during high school
1949:
Signed contract with Univeral-International at age 17
1950:
Feature acting debut, "Louisa"; played Ronald Reagan's daughter
1951:
First of four films in which she played opposite Tony Curtis, "The Prince Who Was a Thief"
1955:
TV acting debut on "Best of Broadway" series
1955:
Broke studio contract; abandoned Hollywood for New York
:
Starred in New York stage productions (including "Rosemary" and "The Alligators", two one-act plays by Molly Kazan) and on live TV
1957:
Moved back to Hollywood; returned to acting in films with "Until They Sail"
1958:
Earned first Emmy nomination for performance in "The Deaf Heart" (CBS)
1959:
Cast as an alcoholic opposite Cliff Robertson in "The Days of Wine and Roses"
1961:
Earned Best Actress Oscar nomination for performance as Fast Eddie Felsen's girlfriend in "The Hustler"; last film for 15 years
1967:
Starred as Laura on Broadway in the 20th anniversary production of "The Glass Menagerie"
1967:
Took hiatus from acting; moved to Woodstock, New York and baked, worked on pottery, paintings and sculptures
1973:
Returned to stage in John Guare's "Marco Polo Sings a Solo"
1976:
Returned to films in "Carrie", playing the title character's devoutly religious mother; received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination
1979:
Cast as a widow who hires a mentally challenged handyman (Mel Gibson) in "Tim"
1981:
Offered strong turn as Magda Goebbels in "The Bunker" (CBS); received third Emmy nomination
1983:
Garnered fourth Emmy nomination for supporting role of Anne Mueller in "The Thorn Birds" (ABC)
1984:
Received fifth career Emmy nomination for guest appearance on the NBC drama "St. Elsewhere"
1985:
Portrayed Auntie Em in the sequel "Return to Oz"
1986:
Garnered third Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination for "Children of a Lesser God"
1986:
Co-starred with James Garner and James Woods in the acclaimed CBS TV-movie "Promise"; won Emmy award for role
:
Toured in one-woman stage show, "The Last Flapper" by William Luce, portraying Zelda Fitzgerald (date approximate)
1990:
Starred as Catherine Martell in David Lynch's eerie, quirky drama series "Twin Peaks" (ABC); received two Emmy nominations for work in show; for the 1989-1990 season as Best Actress in a Drama Series and as Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for the 1990-1991 season
1991:
Cast in featured role in "Other People's Money"
1993:
Co-starred in Off-Broadway production of Larry Kramer's "The Destiny of Me"
1994:
Had regular role on the short-lived CBS series "Traps"
1996:
Reteamed with Sissy Spacek, this time playing sisters in "The Grass Harp"
1998:
Had featured role in the horror film "The Faculty"
1999:
Picked up ninth career Emmy nod for guest appearance in an episode of the NBC sitcom "Frasier"
2000:
Co-starred in the based-on-fact Showtime drama "Possessed"
2004:
Starred in the black comedy "Eulogy" which follows three generations of a family, who come together for the funeral of the patriarch
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Education

Los Angeles High School: Los Angeles , California - 1950

Notes

David Lynch described Piper Laurie: "There's a mystique about her. She has kind of a wild streak that's interesting because it could become dangerous." (quoted in PEOPLE, April 30, 1990)

Laurie sculpts in marble.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Joseph Morgenstern. Film critic. Married in 1962; divorced in 1981; met when Morgenstern, writing for the <i>New York Herald</i>, interviewed Laurie, who was doing publicity for "The Hustler" (1961).

Family close complete family listing

father:
Alfred Jacobs. Furniture dealer. Polish immigrant.
mother:
Charlotte Sadie Jacobs. Russian-American.
sister:
Sherrye Arlene Jacobs. Older; suffered with asthma.
daughter:
Anne Grace Morgenstern. Born in 1971; had daughter Grace Anne born in 1993.
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