Shirley Knight


Actor
Shirley Knight

About

Also Known As
Shirley Enola Knight, Shirley Knight Hopkins
Birth Place
Goessel, Kansas, USA
Born
July 05, 1936

Biography

Kansas-born Shirley Knight originally intended to be an opera singer until she saw a touring company of "The Lark" starring Julie Harris and switched to acting. In 1957, she headed west to study at the Pasadena Playhouse where she made her stage debut the following year in "Look Back in Anger." Knight was put under contract by Warner Bros. and the petite blonde earned critical acclaim an...

Photos & Videos

Sweet Bird of Youth - Publicity Stills
Sweet Bird of Youth - Behind-the-Scenes Photos

Family & Companions

Gene Persson
Husband
Producer. Married in 1959; divorced in 1969.
John R Hopkins
Husband
Playwright. Married from 1970 until his death on July 23, 1998; British.

Notes

She was named Shirley after screen actress Shirley Temple

Knight received an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Lake Forest College in 1978

Biography

Kansas-born Shirley Knight originally intended to be an opera singer until she saw a touring company of "The Lark" starring Julie Harris and switched to acting. In 1957, she headed west to study at the Pasadena Playhouse where she made her stage debut the following year in "Look Back in Anger." Knight was put under contract by Warner Bros. and the petite blonde earned critical acclaim and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination as an Oklahoman in love with a Jew in the screen adaptation of William Inge's "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs" (1960). She picked up a second nod in the same category as Heavenly Finley, the woman seduced and abandoned by Chance Wayne, in "Sweet Bird of Youth" (1962). In "The Group" (1966), her character found seeming happiness with James Broderick while later that same year she delivered a strong turn as a sluttish white woman who confronts a young black male passenger in "The Dutchman." After a strong turn as a pregnant woman who runs off with a football player in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Rain People" (1969), Knight moved to England with her second husband, British playwright John Hopkins and did not act on screen for five years, returning in "Juggernaut" (1974). Her subsequent film roles have generally cast her in maternal roles as in "Endless Love" (1981), "Stuart Saves His Family" (1995) and "As Good As It Gets" (1997).

While she found almost immediate success in films, Knight has a stated preference for stage work. Spurning an offer to play Ophelia to Richard Burton's "Hamlet," she opted to co-star with Geraldine Page and Kim Stanley in an Actors Studio production of Chekhov's "Three Sisters" (1964). She acquired a Tony as Featured Actress in a Play for her turn as a floozy in "Kennedy's Children" (1975) and has appeared in several classics including twice playing Blanche in "A Streetcar Named Desire," Lola in "Come Back, Little Sheba" and Amanda Wingfield in "The Glass Menagerie." More recently, Knight returned to Broadway and netted a Tony nomination for her turn as a woman who refuses to accept that her son committed suicide in Horton Foote's Pulitzer-winning "The Young Man From Atlanta" in 1997.

The small screen has also provided the actress with challenging roles. She made her first appearance in the medium in a live broadcast in 1959 and amassed numerous guest credits in the 60s and 70s. Knight co-starred opposite Jason Robards in a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation of "The Country Girl" (NBC, 1974) and Alan Arkin in the above average CBS movie "The Defection of Simas Kudirka" (1978). She offered a strong turn and earned her first Emmy nomination as a concentration camp inmate in the acclaimed "Playing for Time" (CBS, 1980) before picking up the award for a guest appearance as the mother of Mel Harris' Hope in a 1987 episode of ABC's "thirtysomething."

Knight had her first regular series role in the short-lived 1993 CBS drama "Angel Falls." At the 1995 Emmy Awards, she picked up two statuettes, one for her guest appearance as the mother of a murder victim in an episode of "NYPD Blue" and the second as day care center owner Peggy Buckley who was accused of and tried for child molestation in the fact-based HBO drama "Indictment: The McMartin Trial." Knight has continued to be a powerful presence in the medium, offering effective supporting turns in such made-for-television fare as "Stolen Memories: Secrets From the Rose Garden" (Family Channel, 1996), "Mary & Tim" (CBS, 1996) and "The Wedding" (ABC, 1998). She returned to regular series work cast as the mother of the titular "Maggie Winters" in the short-lived 1998 CBS sitcom starring Faith Ford. The actress's schedule remained packed with continual roles in feature films--including "Angel Eyes" (2001), "The Salton Sea" (2002) and "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" (2002).

Knight became a regular fixture on the small screen with guest appearances on such series as "Ally McBeal," "ER," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Crossing Jordan," and "Cold Case" and "House," and in 2005 she began a recurring stint on "Desperate Housewives" as Phyllis Van De Kamp, the meddling mother-in-law of tightly wound Bree (Marcia Cross).

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (2015)
The Missing Girl (2015)
Mercy (2014)
Our Idiot Brother (2011)
Listen to Your Heart (2010)
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009)
Not Fade Away (2009)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
Open Window (2007)
Grandma's Boy (2006)
Thanks to Gravity (2006)
Sexual Life (2005)
Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion (2003)
Voice-Over
P.S. Your Cat Is Dead (2002)
Aunt Claire
The Salton Sea (2002)
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002)
A House on a Hill (2001)
Mercedes
Angel Eyes (2001)
My Louisiana Sky (2001)
75 Degrees in July (2000)
Jo Beth Anderson
A Father For Brittany (1998)
Donna Minkiewicz
A Marriage of Convenience (1998)
Dying To Be Perfect: The Ellen Hart Story (1997)
As Good As it Gets (1997)
Convictions (1997)
Margaret
Little Boy Blue (1997)
A Promise to Carolyn (1996)
Jolene Maggart
The Uninvited (1996)
Delia
Mary & Tim (1996)
Somebody Is Waiting (1996)
Diabolique (1996)
Stuart Saves His Family (1995)
Indictment: The Mc Martin Trial (1995)
Peggy Buckley
Fudge-A-Mania (1995)
Color of Night (1994)
Benders (1994)
A Part of the Family (1994)
Baby Brokers (1994)
The Yarn Princess (1994)
Esther
Death in Venice, CA (1994)
A Mother's Revenge (1993)
The Secret Life of Houses (1993)
Aunt Fergie
Shadow of a Doubt (1991)
Helen Potter
Bump in the Night (1991)
To Save a Child (1991)
Rinda Larson
Prisoners (1984)
With Intent to Kill (1984)
Edna Reinecker
Sweet Scene of Death (1983)
The Sender (1982)
Jerolyn
Endless Love (1981)
Anne Butterfield
Playing for Time (1980)
The Great British Striptease (1980)
Champions: A Love Story (1979)
Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979)
The Defection of Simas Kudirka (1978)
Genna Kudirka
Secrets (1978)
Return to Earth (1976)
21 Hours At Munich (1976)
Annaliese Graes
Except For Thee And Me (1975)
Medical Story (1975)
Phyllis Lenahan
Juggernaut (1974)
The Country Girl (1974)
Georgie Elgin
Terror On the Britannic (1974)
The Rain People (1969)
Natalie Ravenna
The Counterfeit Killer (1968)
Angie Peterson
Petulia (1968)
Polo
Dutchman (1966)
Lula
The Group (1966)
Polly Andrews
Flight From Ashiya (1964)
Caroline Gordon
House of Women (1962)
Erica Hayden
Sweet Bird of Youth (1962)
Heavenly Finley
The Couch (1962)
Terry
The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1960)
Reenie Flood
Ice Palace (1960)
Grace Kennedy, age 16
Five Gates to Hell (1959)
Sister Marie [Phillips]

Cast (Special)

Intimate Portrait: Brooke Shields (2001)
47th Annual Emmy Awards (1995)
Presenter
Hogg's Heaven (1992)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Ghost Cat (2003)
The Wedding (1998)
Stolen Memories: Secrets From the Rose Garden (1996)
If These Walls Could Talk (1996)
Mary Donnelly ("1952")
Dad, the Angel & Me (1995)
Children of the Dust (1995)
When Love Kills: The Seduction of John Hearn (1993)
Billionaire Boys Club (1987)
Mrs Hunt

Articles

Shirley Knight (1936-2020)


Kansas-born Shirley Knight originally intended to be an opera singer until she saw a touring company of "The Lark" starring Julie Harris and switched to acting. In 1957, she headed west to study at the Pasadena Playhouse where she made her stage debut the following year in "Look Back in Anger." Knight was put under contract by Warner Bros. and the petite blonde earned critical acclaim and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination as an Oklahoman in love with a Jew in the screen adaptation of William Inge's "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs" (1960). She picked up a second nod in the same category as Heavenly Finley, the woman seduced and abandoned by Chance Wayne, in "Sweet Bird of Youth" (1962).

In "The Group" (1966), her character found seeming happiness with James Broderick while later that same year she delivered a strong turn as a sluttish white woman who confronts a young black male passenger in "The Dutchman." After a strong turn as a pregnant woman who runs off with a football player in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Rain People" (1969), Knight moved to England with her second husband, British playwright John Hopkins and did not act on screen for five years, returning in "Juggernaut" (1974). Her subsequent film roles generally cast her in maternal roles as in "Endless Love" (1981), "Stuart Saves His Family" (1995) and "As Good As It Gets" (1997).

While she found almost immediate success in films, Knight has a stated preference for stage work. Spurning an offer to play Ophelia to Richard Burton's "Hamlet," she opted to co-star with Geraldine Page and Kim Stanley in an Actors Studio production of Chekhov's "Three Sisters" (1964). She acquired a Tony as Featured Actress in a Play for her turn as a floozy in "Kennedy's Children" (1975) and has appeared in several classics including twice playing Blanche in "A Streetcar Named Desire," Lola in "Come Back, Little Sheba" and Amanda Wingfield in "The Glass Menagerie." More recently, Knight returned to Broadway and netted a Tony nomination for her turn as a woman who refuses to accept that her son committed suicide in Horton Foote's Pulitzer-winning "The Young Man From Atlanta" in 1997.

The small screen also provided the actress with challenging roles. She made her first appearance in the medium in a live broadcast in 1959 and amassed numerous guest credits in the 60s and 70s. Knight co-starred opposite Jason Robards in a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation of "The Country Girl" (NBC, 1974) and Alan Arkin in the above average CBS movie "The Defection of Simas Kudirka" (1978). She offered a strong turn and earned her first Emmy nomination as a concentration camp inmate in the acclaimed "Playing for Time" (CBS, 1980) before picking up the award for a guest appearance as the mother of Mel Harris' Hope in a 1987 episode of ABC's "thirtysomething."

Knight had her first regular series role in the short-lived 1993 CBS drama "Angel Falls." At the 1995 Emmy Awards, she picked up two statuettes, one for her guest appearance as the mother of a murder victim in an episode of "NYPD Blue" and the second as day care center owner Peggy Buckley who was accused of and tried for child molestation in the fact-based HBO drama "Indictment: The McMartin Trial." Knight continued to be a powerful presence in the medium, offering effective supporting turns in such made-for-television fare as "Stolen Memories: Secrets From the Rose Garden" (Family Channel, 1996), "Mary & Tim" (CBS, 1996) and "The Wedding" (ABC, 1998). She returned to regular series work cast as the mother of the titular "Maggie Winters" in the short-lived 1998 CBS sitcom starring Faith Ford. The actress's schedule remained packed with continual roles in feature films--including "Angel Eyes" (2001), "The Salton Sea" (2002) and "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" (2002).

Knight became a regular fixture on the small screen with guest appearances on such series as "Ally McBeal," "ER," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Crossing Jordan," and "Cold Case" and "House," and in 2005 she had a recurring stint on "Desperate Housewives" as Phyllis Van De Kamp, the meddling mother-in-law of tightly wound Bree (Marcia Cross).

Shirley Knight passed away April 22, 2020 in San Marcos, Texas.

Shirley Knight (1936-2020)

Shirley Knight (1936-2020)

Kansas-born Shirley Knight originally intended to be an opera singer until she saw a touring company of "The Lark" starring Julie Harris and switched to acting. In 1957, she headed west to study at the Pasadena Playhouse where she made her stage debut the following year in "Look Back in Anger." Knight was put under contract by Warner Bros. and the petite blonde earned critical acclaim and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination as an Oklahoman in love with a Jew in the screen adaptation of William Inge's "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs" (1960). She picked up a second nod in the same category as Heavenly Finley, the woman seduced and abandoned by Chance Wayne, in "Sweet Bird of Youth" (1962). In "The Group" (1966), her character found seeming happiness with James Broderick while later that same year she delivered a strong turn as a sluttish white woman who confronts a young black male passenger in "The Dutchman." After a strong turn as a pregnant woman who runs off with a football player in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Rain People" (1969), Knight moved to England with her second husband, British playwright John Hopkins and did not act on screen for five years, returning in "Juggernaut" (1974). Her subsequent film roles generally cast her in maternal roles as in "Endless Love" (1981), "Stuart Saves His Family" (1995) and "As Good As It Gets" (1997). While she found almost immediate success in films, Knight has a stated preference for stage work. Spurning an offer to play Ophelia to Richard Burton's "Hamlet," she opted to co-star with Geraldine Page and Kim Stanley in an Actors Studio production of Chekhov's "Three Sisters" (1964). She acquired a Tony as Featured Actress in a Play for her turn as a floozy in "Kennedy's Children" (1975) and has appeared in several classics including twice playing Blanche in "A Streetcar Named Desire," Lola in "Come Back, Little Sheba" and Amanda Wingfield in "The Glass Menagerie." More recently, Knight returned to Broadway and netted a Tony nomination for her turn as a woman who refuses to accept that her son committed suicide in Horton Foote's Pulitzer-winning "The Young Man From Atlanta" in 1997. The small screen also provided the actress with challenging roles. She made her first appearance in the medium in a live broadcast in 1959 and amassed numerous guest credits in the 60s and 70s. Knight co-starred opposite Jason Robards in a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation of "The Country Girl" (NBC, 1974) and Alan Arkin in the above average CBS movie "The Defection of Simas Kudirka" (1978). She offered a strong turn and earned her first Emmy nomination as a concentration camp inmate in the acclaimed "Playing for Time" (CBS, 1980) before picking up the award for a guest appearance as the mother of Mel Harris' Hope in a 1987 episode of ABC's "thirtysomething." Knight had her first regular series role in the short-lived 1993 CBS drama "Angel Falls." At the 1995 Emmy Awards, she picked up two statuettes, one for her guest appearance as the mother of a murder victim in an episode of "NYPD Blue" and the second as day care center owner Peggy Buckley who was accused of and tried for child molestation in the fact-based HBO drama "Indictment: The McMartin Trial." Knight continued to be a powerful presence in the medium, offering effective supporting turns in such made-for-television fare as "Stolen Memories: Secrets From the Rose Garden" (Family Channel, 1996), "Mary & Tim" (CBS, 1996) and "The Wedding" (ABC, 1998). She returned to regular series work cast as the mother of the titular "Maggie Winters" in the short-lived 1998 CBS sitcom starring Faith Ford. The actress's schedule remained packed with continual roles in feature films--including "Angel Eyes" (2001), "The Salton Sea" (2002) and "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" (2002). Knight became a regular fixture on the small screen with guest appearances on such series as "Ally McBeal," "ER," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Crossing Jordan," and "Cold Case" and "House," and in 2005 she had a recurring stint on "Desperate Housewives" as Phyllis Van De Kamp, the meddling mother-in-law of tightly wound Bree (Marcia Cross). Shirley Knight passed away April 22, 2020 in San Marcos, Texas.

Life Events

1958

Joined Pasadena Playhouse and made stage debut in "Look Back in Anger"

1959

Signed contract with Warner Bros.

1959

Film debut "Five Gates to Hell"

1959

Made TV acting debut

1960

Received first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs"

1961

Early TV credit, a guest appearance on "Maverick"

1962

Earned second Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for "Sweet Bird of Youth"

1963

Off-Broadway debut in "Journey to the Day"

1964

Broadway debut in "Three Sisters" alongside Geraldine Page and Kim Stanley; replaced in film version by Sandy Dennis

1966

Co-starred in "The Group"

1967

TV-movie debut "The Outsider" (NBC)

1969

Had starring role in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Rain People"

1970

Lived in England

1970

British stage debut in "A Touch of the Poet"

1974

Played Georgie Elgin in a the NBC "Hallmark Hall of Fame" production of "The Country Girl"

1974

Returned to films after a five year absence in "Juggernaut"

1976

Earned a Tony Award as Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in "Kennedy's Children"

1978

Co-starred alongside Alan Arkin in the CBS movie "The Defection of Simas Kudirka"

1980

Offered a strong supporting turn as a concentration camp inmate in "Playing for Time" (CBS)

1981

Cast as Brooke Shields' mother in "Endless Love"

1983

Last film appearance for a decade "Sweet Scene of Death"

1987

Won first Emmy Award playing Hope's mother in an episode of the ABC drama "thirtysomething"

1990

Reprised her award-winning role of Hope's mother in another episode of "thirtysomething"

1993

TV series debut as regular in the short-lived CBS series "Angel Falls"

1993

Returned to films in "The Secret Life of Houses"

1995

Played Al Franken's mother in "Stuart Saves His Family"

1995

Played Peggy Buckley, a real-life pre-school owner accused of child molestation, in the acclaimed HBO movie "Indictment: The McMartin Trial"; received third Emmy Award

1995

Won second Emmy as the mother of a murder victim in an episode of "NYPD Blue"

1996

Co-starred with Mary Tyler Moore and Linda Lavin in the Family Channel TV-movie "Stolen Memories: Secrets From the Rose Garden"

1997

Portrayed Helen Hunt's mother in "As Good As It Gets"

1997

Returned to Broadway as co-star with Rip Torn in Horton Foote's Pulitzer-winning "The Young Man From Atlanta"; received Tony nomination

1998

Appeared as Gram, the Caucasian matriarch of a biracial family in "The Wedding" (ABC)

2001

Acted in Hartford Stage production of "Necessary Targets"

2001

Had featured role in "Angel Eyes"

2006

Earned an Emmy nomination for Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for "Desperate Housewives"

Photo Collections

Sweet Bird of Youth - Publicity Stills
Here are some publicity stills taken for Sweet Bird of Youth (1962), starring Paul Newman and Shirley Knight. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Sweet Bird of Youth - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are some photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of Sweet Bird of Youth (1962), starring Paul Newman and Geraldine Page, and directed by Richard Brooks.

Videos

Movie Clip

Group, The (1966) - Dottie Renfrew Is Engaged Director Sidney Lumet resumes his narrative device with Kathleen Widdoes as college “class scribe” Helena typing, Joan Hackett as Dottie on the train, to a 1930-something New York party hosted by Kay and her boozy playwright husband (Joanna Pettet, Larry Hagman), Jessica Walter, Shirley Knight, et al conversing, in The Group, 1966.
Group, The (1966) - Landlord, Fill The Flowing Bowl Somewhat bawdy English traditional song Landlord, Fill The Flowing Bowl among several choral pieces opening Sidney Lumet's The Group, 1966, introducing classmates Joan Hackett, Candice Bergen, Shirley Knight, Joanna Pettet et al, and their valedictorian Kathleen Widdoes.
Sweet Bird of Youth (1962) - There's Only One Payoff Window In a flashback sequence, Chance Wayne (Paul Newman) recalls his younger self being invited to leave his Southern hometown by politician "Boss" Finley (Ed Begley), whose daughter he loves, in director Richard Brooks' Sweet Bird of Youth, 1962, from the Tennessee Williams play.
Juggernaut (1974) - Britannic, Southampton Location shooting at Southampton, England, director Richard Lester's loose introduction of some principals, Omar Sharif, Anthony Hopkins, his wife Caroline Mortimer with kids, Roy Kinnear the social director, and Shirley Knight, opening Juggernaut, 1974.
Juggernaut (1974) - Spasmodic After the first night at sea, Roy Kinnear the social director, officer Hollingsworth (Mark Burns) with a theory about what the captain (Omar Sharif) has been up to with passenger Mrs. Bannister (Shirley Knight), early in Richard Lester's Juggernaut, 1974.
Rain People, The - You Can Call Me Killer Runaway housewife Natalie (Shirley Knight) meets hitcher and ex-football star Jimmie (James Caan), early in The Rain People, 1969, directed by Francis Ford Coppola from his original screenplay.
Rain People, The - I'm Getting A Ticket Natalie (Shirley Knight), in a hurry to leave the Nebraska town where's she's dropped off her long-time hitcher, meets cop Gordon (Robert Duvall), in The Rain People, 1969, written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

Trailer

Family

Noel Johnson Knight
Father
Oil company executive.
Virginia Knight
Mother
Justine Hopkins
Step-Daughter
Kaitlin Hopkins
Daughter
Actor. Father, Gene Persson.
Justine Hopkins
Daughter
Father, John Hopkins.

Companions

Gene Persson
Husband
Producer. Married in 1959; divorced in 1969.
John R Hopkins
Husband
Playwright. Married from 1970 until his death on July 23, 1998; British.

Bibliography

Notes

She was named Shirley after screen actress Shirley Temple

Knight received an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Lake Forest College in 1978

"My husband has always said I don't have enough vanity to be an actress." --Shirley Knight to The New York Times, May 24, 1997.