Debra Winger Poster


Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (26) | Personal Quotes (13) | Salary (4)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 16 May 1955Cleveland Heights, Ohio, USA
Birth NameDebra Lynn Winger
Height 5' 4" (1.63 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Mary Debra Winger was born May 16, 1955 in Cleveland, Ohio, to Ruth (Felder), an officer manager, and Robert Jack Winger, a meat packer. She is from a Jewish family (originally from Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire). Her maternal grandparents called her Mary, while her parents called her Debra (her father named her Debra after his favorite actress, Debra Paget). The family moved to California when Debra was five. She fell in love with acting in high school but kept it a secret from her family. She was a precocious teenager, having graduated high school at an early age of 15. She enrolled in college, majoring in criminology. She worked part-time in the local amusement park when she got thrown from a truck and suffered serious injuries and went temporarily blind for several months. She was in the hospital when she vowed to pursue her passion for acting.

After she recovered, she abandoned college and studied acting. Like any struggling actor, she did commercials and guest-starred on 70s TV shows like Police Woman: Task Force: Cop Killer: Part 1 (1976) and Wonder Woman (1975) where she played Lynda Carter's little sister, Wonder Girl. She also made her feature film debut in the embarrassing soft-core porn film Slumber Party '57 (1976). (Years later on Inside the Actors Studio (1994), host James Lipton asked her to name her first film, and she refused to answer him.) Her next two films French Postcards (1979) and Thank God It's Friday (1978) did absolutely nothing for her career. When Sissy Spacek said no to playing the character Sissy in Urban Cowboy (1980), almost every young actress in Hollywood pursued the role. Debra won the role over a then-unknown Michelle Pfeiffer and gave a star-making performance as John Travolta's wife. Her handling of the mechanical bull made her a new kind of sex symbol. She would always remain grateful to her director James Bridges for threatening to quit the film if the studio didn't cast her. However, she followed it up with a flop, Cannery Row (1982). But, she became part of one of the top-grossing films of all time by providing her deep, throaty voice to the title character of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) as a favor to the film's director Steven Spielberg (Note: IMDB cast list for E.T. indicates Pat Welsh as the voice for that character.). She also appeared in the film for a few seconds in the Halloween scene, where she is wearing a zombie mask and carrying a poodle. She received her first Academy Award nomination as Best Actress for the huge hit An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), where her on-screen love scenes with Richard Gere became just as legendary as her off-screen fights with him and with director Taylor Hackford.

Debra's reputation as a great talent, as well as her reputation as a difficult actress grew with her next film, Terms of Endearment (1983), which not only earned her a second Oscar nomination as Best Actress but also won the Best Picture as well. She also earned the Best Actress Award from the National Society of Film Critics. Debra was at the top of her game and was the most sought-after actress in Hollywood, but she turned down quality roles and lucrative offers for three years. Some speculated that the reason was her romantic involvement with Bob Kerrey, then-governor of Nebraska, while others have stated it was her back problems. Whatever her reasons were, her career lost its heat. Her long-delayed film Mike's Murder (1984), reuniting her with her "Urban Cowboy" director James Bridges, didn't help matters either when it became a critical and financial flop. Debra tried to revive her career by starring in the big-budget comedy Legal Eagles (1986), but she disliked the film so much that she publicly stated that the director, Ivan Reitman, was one of the two worst directors she worked with, the other director being Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)). She also walked out on her agency, CAA, but returned several years later.

Her personal life made headlines when she left Bob Kerrey and eloped with Oscar-winning actor Timothy Hutton in 1986. In 1987, she gave birth to their son, Noah Hutton. She also starred in Black Widow (1987), which wasn't a hit, and acted alongside Hutton as a male angel in Made in Heaven (1987) which flopped. She followed that up by starring in another flop, Betrayed (1988), which featured a fleeting cameo by Hutton. She separated from Hutton in 1988 and they divorced in 1990, at which time she had two more bombs, Everybody Wins (1990) and The Sheltering Sky (1990). However, she relished the experience on The Sheltering Sky (1990) so much that she stayed in the Sahara desert long after filming wrapped. She came back to US and filmed a Steve Martin vehicle, Leap of Faith (1992), which did nothing for her career. But, she found love on the set of her next film, Wilder Napalm (1993) when she co-starred opposite Arliss Howard, who became her next husband. The film flopped but their marriage lasted. She received good notices for A Dangerous Woman (1993), but it was Shadowlands (1993) which finally brought her renewed respectability and her third Academy Award nomination as Best Actress. She followed that up with a forgettable comedy Forget Paris (1995). Then, she signed to do "Divine Rapture" with Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp in a small village in Ireland, but two weeks into filming, financing fell apart, and the film was never completed. Winger was never paid for her work, and neither were the poor villagers, and Winger said she was devastated for them. Now 40, Debra felt that there were no good roles for her and she concentrated on motherhood by having a second son, "Babe Ruth Howard", in 1997. Her six-year absence from films inspired a documentary by Rosanna Arquette titled Searching for Debra Winger (2002), which is about sexism and ageism in Hollywood. In 2001, she returned to acting in her husband's film Big Bad Love (2001), which she also co-produced. It renewed her love for acting, and she has ventured out into television as well by earning her first Emmy nomination as Best Actress for Dawn Anna (2005) directed by her husband. In 2008, she wrote a well-written book based on her personal recollections titled "Undiscovered." And she followed that up by winning rave reviews as Anne Hathaway's mother in Jonathan Demme's Rachel Getting Married (2008). Nobody can deny that Debra Winger is one of the best American actresses ever. Her fans hope that Hollywood will finally reward her talent with a long-overdue Academy Award.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ramstep

Spouse (2)

Arliss Howard (28 November 1996 - present) (1 child)
Timothy Hutton (16 March 1986 - 1 March 1990) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (1)

Deep throaty voice

Trivia (26)

Born at 5:15pm-EDT
Daughter of Robert and Ruth Winger.
Attended and graduated from Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior High School in Northridge, California in 1970.
Attended and graduated from James Monroe High School in Sepulveda, California in 1973.
Had a romance with then-Governor of Nebraska Bob Kerrey during the filming of Terms of Endearment (1983).
Sister-in-law of actor/writer Jim Howard.
Gave birth to her 1st child at age 31, a son Emmanuel Noah Hutton (aka Noah Hutton) on April 29, 1987. Child's father is her 1st (now ex) husband, Timothy Hutton.
Gave birth to her 2nd child at age 42, a son Babe Howard on June 15, 1997. Child's father is her 2nd husband, Arliss Howard.
James L. Brooks wrote Broadcast News (1987) especially for her, but she turned it down because she was pregnant with her son Noah Hutton, and the role went to Holly Hunter, who was nominated for an Oscar for it.
At first, she was excited about winning the role of Wonder Girl on the television series Wonder Woman (1975) but quickly became disillusioned and spent all her salary from the series to hire an attorney to get her out of her contract.
Didn't like working with Lynda Carter on Wonder Woman (1975) but Lynda said that they didn't have any problems and was like a big sister to her.
She was given the choice of the two roles in Black Widow (1987); she chose the role of the FBI agent, because she didn't understand the motivation as to why the Black Widow kills, so the title role went to Theresa Russell.
She became notorious for turning down worthy roles in many popular films, such as Jodie Foster's roles in Taxi Driver (1976), The Accused (1988) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Brooke Shields' roles in Pretty Baby (1978) and The Blue Lagoon (1980), Liza Minnelli's role in Arthur (1981), Daryl Hannah's role in Splash (1984), Linda Hamilton's role in The Terminator (1984), Sissy Spacek's roles in Marie (1985) and Crimes of the Heart (1986), Kathleen Turner's role in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), Barbra Streisand's role in Nuts (1987), Susan Sarandon's role in Bull Durham (1988), Michelle Pfeiffer's role in The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), Jessica Lange's role in Music Box (1989), Julia Roberts' role in Pretty Woman (1990), Demi Moore's role in Ghost (1990), Geena Davis' roles in Thelma & Louise (1991) and A League of Their Own (1992), Sharon Stone's role in Basic Instinct (1992), Ellen Barkin's role in This Boy's Life (1993), Meg Ryan's role in Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and When a Man Loves a Woman (1994), Sandra Bullock's role in Speed (1994) and Nicole Kidman's role in To Die For (1995).
In 1995, she appeared in London, Washington, and New York with both the London Symphony and the New World Symphony under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas, performing his composition based on the life of Anne Frank.
Her notorious off-camera clashes with equally mercurial Shirley MacLaine brought out the best in both actresses in the complexity of their on-camera contentious mother/daughter relationship during the making of their Oscar-winning film Terms of Endearment (1983). When MacLaine nabbed the Best Actress Oscar instead of fellow nominee Winger in 1984 and famously shouted, "I deserve this!," she managed to address her co-star as "dear Debra" despite the fact there was no love lost between them.
She also turned down Karen Allen's role in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), which turned out to be one of the highest grossing films of all time.
She also turned down the role of Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction (1987), which went to Glenn Close.
She was originally signed to play Peggy Sue Bodell in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) but was forced to withdraw after her back was severely injured in a bicycle accident. Debra missed out on other roles, due to the many months it took her to fully recover.
Friends with Sheena Easton.
When she was 14, her father had installed a burglar alarm for the celebrated director George Cukor and told him that his daughter wanted to be a actress. Cukor looked at Winger and told her, "That voice, and you got no walk and you got no class!" She suspected that her father might have put Cukor up to this, in order to discourage her from pursuing a acting career. Cukor was still alive when Winger became a star with Urban Cowboy (1980) but he didn't get a chance to know about her first Oscar nomination as Best Actress for An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), since the nomination was announced a few days after he died.
She spent a good part of the 1980s trying to get the studios to cast her in a biography of the torch-singer Libby Holman, and another on Isabel Eberhardt, a 19th-century mystic who became involved in fighting religious wars in the Middle East. But she had burned bridges with influential Hollywood people with her outspokenness, and the studios were also reluctant to finance female-driven films, so the two biographies were never made.
She had seen her first husband actor Timothy Hutton on TV when he accepted the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Ordinary People (1980) and fell in love with him. She met him in person two years later in 1983 for a film that they were supposed to be cast in called "Road Show" but it was revamped and made with different actors a decade later under a new title Medicine Man (1992). Hutton later said they talked for six hours about everything at that first meeting, and Winger said there was so much electricity between them that they got scared and ran in opposite directions. They kept running into each other once every six months, and Hutton later described these encounters "like turning magnets around." They finally stuck together when Winger emceed Farm Aid on New Year's Eve in 1986 and Hutton was one of the guests. Almost immediately, they started living together and married just three months later. Despair followed the happy occasion. Her orthodox Jewish grandmother stopped talking to her, because Hutton wasn't Jewish. Worse, Winger miscarried when she got pregnant on her wedding night. She got pregnant again and gave birth to their son Noah Hutton in 1987, but just a year later, they separated and divorced two years later. During their short marriage, they appeared together in two films (Made in Heaven (1987) and Betrayed (1988)) that flopped at the box office, as well as a "Life" magazine cover. Winger said that there was "no bad blood" between them after their divorce.
She had a on-and-off relationship with Senator Bob Kerrey from 1982 to 1990, but she never married him contrary to persistent rumors, although they remained friends. She picked husbands, who, like her, were also actors. Unlike her, both Timothy Hutton and Arliss Howard were both Gentiles. However, she raised the sons she had with them in Jewish faith.
She was angry when director Penny Marshall cast Madonna in A League of Their Own (1992) telling her, "You're making an Elvis movie." Marshall didn't know what that meant, which frustrated Winger even more, since she dropped out of the film and Geena Davis got her role. Madonna was no fan of Winger either, since she told Carrie Fisher that one of her nicknames was Kit Moresby, a character from a novel she loved, until she saw the film adaptation of that novel where Winger played Kit in The Sheltering Sky (1990). She told Fisher, "I didn't want to be Kit Moresby anymore, because it was so disappointing. I didn't want people to think that I was Debra Winger." What's ironic is that both their ex-husbands Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn worked together twice in Taps (1981) and The Falcon and the Snowman (1985) and became friends.
In spite of her reputation of being difficult, several people repeatedly worked with her because of her talent: filmmaker James Bridges( Urban Cowboy (1980) and Mike's Murder (1984)), actors Nick Nolte( Cannery Row (1982) and Everybody Wins (1990)) and Gabriel Byrne( A Dangerous Woman (1993) and In Treatment (2008)), actresses Angie Dickinson ( Police Woman: Task Force: Cop Killer: Part 1 (1976) and Big Bad Love (2001)) and Rosanna Arquette (Big Bad Love (2001) and Searching for Debra Winger (2002)), writer/actor David Mamet ( Black Widow (1987) and the stage play "The Anarchist" (2012)), her first husband Timothy Hutton((Made in Heaven (1987) and Betrayed (1988)) and current husband Arliss Howard(Wilder Napalm (1993), Big Bad Love (2001), Dawn Anna (2005)), the stage play "How I Learned To Drive" (1998)).

Personal Quotes (13)

[on her early roles in commercials] I was the all-American face. You name it, honey - American Dairy Milk, Metropolitan Life insurance, McDonald's, Burger King. The Face That Didn't Matter - that's what I called my face.
I have trouble with star billing. I remember thinking on Cannery Row (1982): How can I put my name ahead of Steinbeck's?
[on Bernardo Bertolucci] For me, Bernardo is The Function. The only way I can explain it is in the analogy with mathematics and the word 'function' - addition, subtraction, multiplication, anything that numbers go through and change because of it. And when the function is a function of love, the drapes on the windows, the doors that are hung, the characters, the clothes, everything goes through this function and comes out touched and inspired by it. There are a lot of numbers but what really matters is the function.
[on being labeled "difficult"] It was like armor. It kept the fainthearted at a distance. But perhaps I was too tough.
I used to love going on a junket and promoting a film when it was not a 24-hour news cycle, and when there weren't so many media outlets. You could actually talk about the film. And I don't mean to harp on this because, really, it's fine. It's just that it eats itself. It becomes about itself, and its symbiotic and weird and I don't understand the celebrity of it.
[on Legal Eagles (1986)] I don't regret doing it, but I don't think it stands on its own against good films. It was a nightmare to make. Shooting was supposed to be ten weeks, and it went on for four months. And it was fat - almost $40 million - and, politically, I'm opposed to that kind of money unless it's an epic. I took my salary and left.
I do admit to being challenging, but it's always for the work, it's never personal. I will walk out on a scene if it's all lit and ready to go but it's not happening. Just because we're on schedule is no reason to shoot bad acting. Someone once said to me, "You're inconsiderate." And I said, "Inconsiderate? Bad acting is the ultimate inconsideration." It's a collective slap to a million faces at the same time.
[on Urban Cowboy (1980)]: I loved it. It was the opening of everything for me because of the way James Bridges worked: the freedom, the collaboration, the end product. It was a slice of life, that movie. I'm real proud of it.
[on her film debut in Slumber Party '57 (1976)] A cigar-smoking agent had signed me while I was waitressing, but that only resulted in a blue movie.
[on An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)] I run in to Richard Gere quite a lot and he half jokes, 'Are you still saying terrible things about me?'
[In 2010, 17 years after her Oscar-nominated performance in Shadowlands (1993) came out, she told the "New York Times"] It was the most literate script I've ever read. I was sad every day that I wouldn't ever say those lines again.
[She earned Best Actress Oscar nominations for playing young women who died of cancer in Terms of Endearment (1983) and in Shadowlands (1993)] I remember walking through the living room years ago when the series Roseanne (1988) was on. John Goodman said, "Come on, do you want to go down to the multiplex and watch Debra Winger cough up another lung?" It was the funniest line to me. Then I realized, that's it for me. I can never do another film about death. I've cashed that card.
[In 2008, responding to Lynda Carter's claim that Winger made disparaging comments about the 1970s "Wonder Woman" show where they played sisters] I don't know what she's referring to except I used to make jokes about her costumes. But she did have these golden tits that stuck out and when she turned, they didn't. I was 18 years old, staring at these gold bazooms that didn't move. That's all I ever said. So there you go. Lighten up.

Salary (4)

Cannery Row (1982) $150,000
Legal Eagles (1986) $2,500,000
The Sheltering Sky (1990) $3,000,000
Shadowlands (1993) $2,000,000

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