Worked as a model in Texas and NYC
Acted in commercials using the name Keri Flynn
Debut as a TV regular as a dancer on "The Jackie Gleason Show" (CBS); billed as Erica Dean
Broadway debut in "Fair Game"
Had lead in TV series pilot "The Big Brain" (CBS)
Feature acting debut in "Goodbye, Charlie"; billed as Ellen McRae
Played Doctor Kate Bartok on NBC daytime drama "The Doctors"; credited as Ellen McRae
Starred on the ABC Western series "Iron Horse" as a freight line operator; credited as Ellen McRae
Joined the Actors Studio
Changed billing to Ellen Burstyn for "Alex in Wonderland"
Breakthrough screen performance, as Lois Farrow in "The Last Picture Show"; nominated for Best Supporting Actress Oscar
Offered a memorably performance as an aging beauty in "The King of Marvin Gardens" co-starring Jack Nicholson
Played the mother of a possessed young girl in "The Exorcist"; earned second Oscar nomination, this time as Best Actress
Starred in "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore"; also produced; hired then relatively unknown director Martin Scorsese to direct
Starred on Broadway with Charles Grodin in "Same Time, Next Year"; won a Tony Award
Reprised role in the film version of "Same Time, Next Year" opposite Alan Alda; earned fourth Oscar nomination
Stage directing debut, "Judgement"
Gave an Oscar-nominated performance in "Resurrection"
Earned Emmy nomination for her work in the fact-based NBC miniseries "The People vs. Jean Harris"
Named first female President of Actor's Equity Association (resigned in 1985)
Starred on Broadway in "84 Charing Cross Road"
Succeeded Lee Strasberg as co-artistic director (with Al Pacino, who served 1982-84) of the Actors Studio
With Marsha Mason, starred as mothers whose teenage children fulfill a suicide pact in "Surviving" (ABC)
Starred in the fact-based TV-movies "Into Thin Air" (CBS) and "Act of Vengeance" (HBO)
Appeared in own comedy series "The Ellen Burstyn Show" (ABC)
Starred in the TV-movie "Pack of Lies" (CBS), an adaptation of Hugh Whitmore's hit play about a London couple who allow British intelligence to use their home to spy on their longtime friends and neighbors; earned second Emmy nomination
Succeeded Pauline Collins as the titular heroine in the one-person show "Shirley Valentine"
Played the titular woman on the run from authorities with her grandchild in "Mrs. Lambert Remembers Love" (CBS)
Featured in "Grand Isle" (TNT), the TV-movie adaptation of Kate Chopin's <i>The Awakening</i>
Acted in the short-lived Broadway production "Shimada"
Played a widow in "The Cemetary Club"
Starred on Broadway as Sister Grace in "Sacrilege"
Featured in "How to Make an American Quilt" as Finn's (Winona Ryder) grandmother and one of the women who share their coming-of-age stories with the aimless bride-to-be while crafting the titular gift
Played the owner of "The Spitfire Grill," a restaurant that serves as a troubled young woman's ticket to a new life
Played the mysterious subject of a town legend in the CBS movie "The Patron Saint of Liars"
Played a woman coming to terms with her grown son's batlle with AIDS in "Playing by Heart"
Co-starred as the matriarch of a troubled family in the CBS TV-movie "Night Ride Home"
Played a woman addicted to diet pills who fantasizes about competing on a game show in Darren Aronofsky's "Requiem For a Dream"; received Best Actress Oscar nomination
Cast in the CBS series "That's Life" as the meddling mother of the central character (Heather Paige Kent)
Portrayed an elder Viviane 'Vivi' Abbott Walker in "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood"; based on the best-selling novel by Rebecca Wells
Cast in the ABC TV-movie "The Five People You Meet in Heaven"
Cast in the CBS TV-movie "Canal Street Brothel," about a family of women who ran a bordello out of their New Orleans home
Cast in Showtime's "Our Fathers," an adaptation of David France's epic book about the sex scandals in the Roman Catholic Church
Earned an Emmy nomination for her role in "Mrs. Harris" (HBO); her nomination created controversy because her entire performance consisted of two lines of dialogue and a total of thirty-eight words, which resulted in fourteen seconds of screen time
Played a key role as Lilian in Darren Aronofsky's "The Fountain"
Cast in the TV-movie "Mitch Albom¿s For One More Day" (ABC); earned a SAG nomination for Outstanding Female Actor in a Television Movie
Landed a recurring role on HBO's "Big Love," playing the mother of Polygamist wife Barbara Henrickson; earned an Emmy nomination in 2008 for Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Cast in Stephen Adly Guirgis' "The Little Flower of East Orange" directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman in a joint production of LAByrinth Theater Company and the Public Theater
Portrayed former first lady Barbara Bush in Oliver Stone's controversial biopic "W."
Earned an Emmy nomination for her guest starring role on NBC's "Law & Order: SVU" as the bipolar estranged mother of Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni)
Cast opposite Colin Firth and Orlando Bloom in the small-town drama "Main Street"
Co-starred in the ensemble family drama "Another Happy Day"
Co-starred with Sigourney Weaver in USA Network miniseries "Political Animals"
Played the head of a futuristic rest home in A&E miniseries "Coma," based on 1978 film