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Overview for Shirley MacLaine
Shirley MacLaine

Shirley MacLaine


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Salem Witch... Kirstie Alley, Rebecca de Mornay, Shirley MacLaine, Peter Ustinov. When a group... more info $5.95was $11.98 Buy Now

Battle of Mary... Shirley MacLaine, Shannen Doherty, Parker Posey. The iconic home-beauty expert... more info $5.95was $6.99 Buy Now

Postcards From... Based on actress Carrie Fisher's best-selling autobiographical novel, Postcards... more info $10.95was $14.98 Buy Now

Being There... In one of his most finely tuned performances, Peter Sellers (The Pink Panther)... more info $29.95was $39.95 Buy Now

Being There... In one of his most finely tuned performances, Peter Sellers (The Pink Panther)... more info $23.95was $29.95 Buy Now

What a Way to... All Louisa May Foster (Shirley MacLaine, Two for the Seesaw) wants is a man to... more info $17.95was $29.95 Buy Now

Also Known As: Shirley Maclean Beaty Died:
Born: April 24, 1934 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Richmond, Virginia, USA Profession: Cast ... actor singer dancer author


hed this success with a sexually charged turn as the long-neglected wife of a powerful businessman who attempts to find relief from Peter Sellers' kindly gardener in Hal Ashby's "Being There" (1979). Both films helped to put an older but no less spunky MacLaine back on the Hollywood map. But her greatest screen triumph would come four years later with James Brooks' "Terms of Endearment" (1983). MacLaine unleashed the full brunt of her dramatic talents as the high-maintenance Aurora Greenway, who puts aside her differences with daughter Emma (Debra Winger) to care for her while she endures a terminal illness. The performance was hard-fought; MacLaine quit the production midway through, only to return for its completion, and reports from the set detailed numerous squabbles between the veteran actress and up-and-comer Winger, but it ultimately yielded her an Oscar which she famously won over her onscreen daughter.

Some of the goodwill and buzz generated by the Academy Award win was deflated by the release of MacLaine's memoir Out on a Limb (1983). The bestseller detailed her ongoing fascination with spirituality, including out-of-body experiences and multiple reincarnations. The decidedly unusual subject matter helped to brand MacLaine as a bit of an eccentric, a label she handled with remarkable good humor, as noted by her appearance as an afterlife version of herself in Albert Brooks' comedy "Defending Your Life" (1991). MacLaine was off the big screen for about four years after the release of Out on a Limb, during which she appeared as herself in an Emmy-nominated TV adaptation of the book for ABC in 1987. She also penned three similarly-themed follow-ups, Dancing in the Light (1986), It's All in the Playing (1987) and Going Within (1989); even releasing her own spiritual workout video, "Shirley MacLaine's Inner Workout" in 1989. She also played to adoring crowds in her second one-woman show on Broadway, "Shirley MacLaine on Broadway," in 1984.

MacLaine returned to movies with a vengeance in the late 1980s, starting with her Golden Globe win as an eccentric piano teacher in John Schlesinger's "Madame Sousatzska" (1988). She essayed numerous formidable matrons during this period, most notably Ouiser Boudreaux in the all-star adaptation of "Steel Magnolias" (1989), and a thinly veiled version of Debbie Reynolds in Mike Nichols' adaptation of Carrie Fisher's "Postcards from the Edge" (1990), both of which earned BAFTA nominations. Less acclaimed, but no less well played, were Golden Globe-nominated turns as a Jewish mother in "Used People" (1992) and as a flinty First Lady in "Guarding Tess" (1994). MacLaine also returned to Aurora Greenway for "The Evening Star" (1997), the long-awaited sequel to "Terms of Endearment," but the results paled by comparison to its predecessor, largely due to the absence of Debra Winger and their unique onscreen rapport. In 1998, her considerable body of work in film, television and stage was honored by the Academy with the Cecil B. DeMille Award. MacLaine's busy schedule in the late 1990s and early 2000s included several returns to made-for-TV efforts; among the most high-profile of these was the Carrie Fisher-penned "These Old Broads" (ABC, 2001), which pitted her against the equally iconic lineup of Elizabeth Taylor, Debbie Reynolds and Joan Collins. MacLaine also tackled makeup maven Mary Kay Ash in "The Battle of Mary Kay" (CBS, 2002) and lent her star power to a supporting role in Joseph Sargeant's "Salem Witch Trials" (CBS, 2003). She also made her solo directorial debut with "Bruno" (2000), an unusual indie drama about a young boy with a taste for cross-dressing.

As she approached her seventh decade, MacLaine's rarefied talents remained in demand for features, and she was showcased in a trio of high-profile supporting performances in 2005. She offered a deliciously arch Endora to rival even Agnes Moorhead's original in Nora Ephron's big-screen version of "Bewitched," then dropped the glam to play the sympathetic grandmother to rival sisters Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette in Curtis Hanson's "In Her Shoes." Her comic skills were also given a workout as Jennifer Aniston's grandmother, who may have been the inspiration for Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate" (1967), in Rob Reiner's "Rumor Has It." MacLaine received strong notices for each picture, earning her umpteenth Golden Globe nomination for "In Her Sh s." She then starred in "Coco Chanel" (Lifetime, 2008), delivering an icy turn as the notorious French fashion maven, which earned her yet another Golden Globe nomination; this time in the Best Actress in a miniseries or movie category. She also earned an Emmy Award nomination for the role in 2009. In her personal life, she continued to explore her spiritual interests in a flurry of books throughout the new millennium, including Out on a Leash: Exploring the Nature of Reality and Love (2003) and Sage-ing While Age-ing (2007).

Showing absolutely no signs of slowing down, MacLaine co-starred with Barbara Hershey in "Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning" (CTV, 2008), the fourth entry in the film series based on the characters of Lucy Maud Montgomery, in which an adult Anne (Hershey) recalls her childhood in the days before she arrived at the iconic Prince Edward Island farm. Two years later, she returned to theater screens as part of the ensemble cast of director Garry Marshall⿿s romantic comedy "Valentine⿿s Day" (2010) as a wife struggling with a secret she had kept from her husband (Héctor Elizondo) for many years. After another two-year respite, she co-starred with Jack Black in Richard Linklater⿿s based-on-fact dark comedy "Bernie" (2012), in which she played a lonely, bitter widow whose intense relationship with a younger, well-liked local mortician (Black) takes a deadly turn. In June of that year, MacLaine was honored with the 40th American Film Institute⿿s Life Achievement Award in a ceremony that was later broadcast on the TV Land cable network. Rather than rest on her laurels, MacLaine further demonstrated her artistic vitality when she joined the cast of the critically-acclaimed British period drama "Downton Abbey" (PBS, 2010- ) as Martha Levinson, the widowed American mother of Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern).st projects. She managed to land one final musical with 1969's "Sweet Charity" for director Bob Fosse. The project turned out to be a miserable failure, though it did leave MacLaine with a signature song, "If They Could See Me Now," which would later become a highlight of her singing engagements and TV specials.

MacLaine was largely off the screen for much of the late 1960s and early 1970s, preferring instead to work in other capacities. She was frequently on television during the decade, both as the star of her own short-lived sitcom "Shirley's World" (ABC, 1971-72) and as the star of several well-received TV specials that highlighted her song and dance talents, beginning with 1974's Emmy-winning "Shirley MacLaine: If They Could See Me Now" for CBS. MacLaine also defied her "kooky" screen persona by becoming deeply involved in politics; first as a delegate from California for Robert F. Kennedy and later, as a campaigner for George McGovern in 1972. The following year, MacLaine toured mainland China and recounted her experiences in a book, You Can Get There from Here, as well as in a documentary, "The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir" (1975), which earned her an Oscar nomination (shared with Claudia Weill) for Best Documentary. MacLaine also penned the first of several candid memoirs, Don't Fall Off the Mountain in 1973, and mounted an impressive return to Broadway with a one-woman show, "Gypsy in My Soul" in 1976.

Her feature film career began to rebuild itself in the mid-1970s with an Oscar-nominated turn as a former ballerina who locks horns with a longtime competitor (Anne Bancroft) in "The Turning Point" (1977). She matc

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