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Also Known As: John Samuel Waters Jr. Died:
Born: April 22, 1946 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Baltimore, Maryland, USA Profession: screenwriter, director, author, actor, director of photography, editor, producer, lecturer, puppeteer, artist

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Transgressive filmmaker John Waters remained on the cinematic fringe for more than a decade before his outrageous and intentionally offensive movies gradually met with a sort of begrudging critical and commercial acceptance. Operating from his home base of Baltimore, the pencil-mustached Waters arrived on the scene with his barely-seen short "Hag in a Black Leather Jacket" (1964), before ultimately moving on to such monuments of bad taste as "Mondo Trasho" (1969) and the notorious "Pink Flamingos" (1972). His muse and star in these early efforts was the portly female impersonator Divine, with whom he would make a total of six feature films. Other frequent collaborators like Mink Stole and Mary Vivian Pearce - known collectively as the Dreamlanders - became staples of Waters' exorcises in outré behavior. A spoof of the "women's films" of the 1950s, "Polyester" (1981) was the first of Waters' films to receive wider distribution and a long-denied R rating. Gradually, the filmmaker achieved a semblance of respectability with the publication of his first book, 1981's Shock Value, and later made a name for himself as an admired and innovative photographic artist. He moved further into the mainstream with...

Transgressive filmmaker John Waters remained on the cinematic fringe for more than a decade before his outrageous and intentionally offensive movies gradually met with a sort of begrudging critical and commercial acceptance. Operating from his home base of Baltimore, the pencil-mustached Waters arrived on the scene with his barely-seen short "Hag in a Black Leather Jacket" (1964), before ultimately moving on to such monuments of bad taste as "Mondo Trasho" (1969) and the notorious "Pink Flamingos" (1972). His muse and star in these early efforts was the portly female impersonator Divine, with whom he would make a total of six feature films. Other frequent collaborators like Mink Stole and Mary Vivian Pearce - known collectively as the Dreamlanders - became staples of Waters' exorcises in outré behavior. A spoof of the "women's films" of the 1950s, "Polyester" (1981) was the first of Waters' films to receive wider distribution and a long-denied R rating. Gradually, the filmmaker achieved a semblance of respectability with the publication of his first book, 1981's Shock Value, and later made a name for himself as an admired and innovative photographic artist. He moved further into the mainstream with movies like "Hairspray" (1988), "Cry Baby" (1990) and "Serial Mom" (1994), starring the likes of Johnny Depp and Kathleen Turner. After Waters' 1988 film had been adapted into a successful stage play, the smash hit musical version of "Hairspray" (2007) seemed to complete his transformation from eccentric Hollywood outsider to pop culture icon.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Dirty Shame, A (2004) Director
2.
  Pecker (1998) Director
3.
  Cecil B. Demented (1995) Director
4.
  Serial Mom (1994) Director
5.
  Cry Baby (1990) Director
6.
  Hairspray (1988) Director
7.
  Polyester (1981) Director
8.
  Desperate Living (1977) Director
9.
  Female Trouble (1975) Director
10.
  Pink Flamingos (1974) Director

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Mansome (2012)
3.
 Excision (2012)
4.
5.
 Mangus! (2011)
7.
9.
 Blank City (2009)
10.
 SqueezeBox! (2008)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland
:
Began working as a puppeteer at age 12, performing at children's birthday parties
1964:
Directed first 8mm short, "Hag in a Black Leather Jacket"
:
Released three of his 8mm shorts under the umbrella title, "Roman Candles"; first collaboration with Divine and Mink Stole
1970:
Feature film debut as writer/director, "Mondo Trasho"
1971:
First feature starring Divine, "Multiple Maniacs"
:
Attended court trials of the Manson gang, Patty Hearst, and serial killer Richard Ramirez
1972:
Released the notorious cult film, "Pink Flamingos" starring Divine and Mink Stole; film was closed down in Hicksville, NY and Waters fined $5,000 for obscenity; film was also banned in Australia, Canada and Norway
1975:
"Pink Flamingos" was accepted into the permanent collection of the Musum of Modern Art
1981:
First studio-backed feature, "Polyester" starring Divine and Mink Stole; employed "Odorama" a gimmick involving the distribution of scratch-and-sniff cards to be used with visual cues in the film
1986:
Made cameo appearance as car salesman in Jonathan Demme's "Something Wild"
1986:
Had role in TV-movie "Passion Flower" (CBS)
1988:
Directed his most profitable feature (to date) "Hairspray"; first film with Ricki Lake; last film with Divine
1991:
Honored with a 7-day career retrospective, "Midnight Madness: The Films of John Waters" at the Angelika Theater in NYC
1994:
First Hollywood A-list film (major stars; $13 million budget), "Serial Mom"
1996:
Participated on-camera in "Ballyhoo! The Hollywood Sideshow" (American Movie Classics)
1997:
Provided a character voice on the animated FOX series "The Simpsons"
1997:
"Pink Flamingos" was re-released in a 25th Anniversary edition
1998:
Wrote and directed "Pecker," a semi-autobiographical portrait of a teenaged photographer
1999:
Featured in Woody Allen's "Sweet and Lowdown"
2000:
Helmed "Cecil B. DeMented" starring Melanie Griffith and Stephen Dorff; loosely based on the 1974 kidnapping of Patty Hearst
2004:
Directed the the NC-17-rated "A Dirty Shame" starring Tracey Ullman, Johnny Knoxville and Selma Blair
2004:
Voiced the Sleazy Reporter in "Seed of Chucky"
2007:
Played the narrator/groom reaper in the 13-part TV true-crime drama series "Til Death Do Us Part" (Court TV)
2007:
Appeared in "This Filthy World," a straight documentary of his long-running one-man show
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Education

Calvert Hall College High School: Baltimore , Maryland -
New York University: New York , New York -

Notes

Waters reported that he was expelled from the New York University Film School for smoking pot according to USA Today, (April 12, 1994). He also cheerfully admits to years of LSD use.

"I think he's probably a genius," she [Kathleen Turner, star of 'Serial Mom'] says of Waters. 'Quite frankly, you don't create your own genre and an international audience completely outside a system--and in spite of the Hollywood system--unless you have one hell of a lot of talent.'" --quoted in "John Waters' Weirdness Runs Deep" by Luaine Lee inDaily News, April 12, 1994.

"How could I have sold out? . . . My movie stars a 300-pound transvestite and Tab Hunter." --Waters to New York Post after being accused of selling out by making the relatively commercial movie, "Polyester" (1981).

"In our neighborhood, you always left the garbageman liquor at Christmas. I always wished that garbagemen were my secret friends. I love when they pull up in Baltimore and go 'Hoo!' That's when you have to run out and give them liquor or money or whatever." --John Waters, talking to Ann Magnuson in "Moveable Blood Feast" in Paper, May 1994.

"I don't make films about things I hate," Waters says. "What always makes me laugh are people who have very extreme taste and think they're very normal. That to me is the funniest ... I respect that. I don't look down on it, I'm IN AWE of it. Like people who have on the most hideous outfit and think they really look good. Who am I to say they don't really?" --Waters quoted in "Diving in New Waters" by Frank DeCaro in Newsday, April 11, 1994.

February 7, 1985 was declared "John Waters Day" in Baltimore, Maryland

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Pat Waters.
father:
John Waters.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Crackpot" Macmillan
"Shock Value"
"Trash Trio"

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