Kathleen Doyle Bates was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, the youngest of three daughters born to Langdon Doyle Bates, a mechanical engineer, and his homemaker wife Bertye Talbot. Kathy's great-great Irish grandfather, who emigrated to New Orleans, once served as President Andrew Jackson's doctor. She discovered acting appearing in high school plays and studied drama at Southern Methodist University, graduating in 1969. With her mind firmly set, she moved to New York City in 1970 and paid her dues by working everything from a cash register to taking lunch orders. She scored a tour-de-farce performance alongside Christopher Walken at Buffalo's Studio Arena Theatre in Lanford Wilson's world premiere of "Lemon Sky" in 1970 -- but she also had a foreshadowing of the heartbreak to come when the successful show relocated to New York's off-Broadway Playhouse Theatre without Kathy. Walken wound up winning a Drama Desk award.
By the mid-to-late 1970s Kathy was trotting the boards frequently as a rising young actress of the New York and regional theater scene. She appeared in "Casserole" and "A Quality of Mercy" (both 1975) before earning exceptional reviews for her role of Joanne in "Vanities". She took her first Broadway curtain call in 1980's "Goodbye Fidel," which lasted only six performances. She then went directly into replacement mode when she joined the cast of the already-established and highly successful "Fifth of July" in 1981.
Kathy made a false start in films with Taking Off (1971), in which she was billed as "Bobo Bates". She didn't film again until Straight Time (1978), starring Dustin Hoffman, and that part was not substantial enough to cause a stir. Things turned hopeful, however, when Kathy and the rest of the female ensemble were given the chance to play their respective Broadway parts in the film version of Robert Altman's Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982). It was a juicy role for Kathy and film audiences finally started noticing the now 34-year-old.
Still and all, it was the New York stage that continued to earn Kathy awards and acclaim. She was pure textbook to any actor studying how to disappear into a role. Her characters ranged from free and life-affirming to downright pitiable. Despite winning a Tony Award nomination and Outer Critic's Circle Award for her stark, touchingly sad portrait of a suicidal daughter in 1983's "'night, Mother" and the Obie and Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for her powerhouse job as a romantic misfit in "Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune," Kathy had no box-office pull and was hardly a strong consideration when the roles finally went to film.
Kathy Bates was forever losing out when her award-winning stage characters transferred to the screen. First Sissy Spacek took on her potent role as the suicidal Jessie Cates in 'night, Mother (1986), then Michelle Pfeiffer seized the moment to play her dumpy lover character in Frankie and Johnny (1991). It would take Oscar glory to finally rectify the injustice.
It was her fanatical turn as the drab, chunky, porcine-looking psychopath Annie Wilkes, who kidnaps her favorite author (James Caan) and subjects him to a series of horrific tortures, that finally turned the tide for her in Hollywood. With the 1990 shocker Misery (1990), based on the popular Stephen King novel, Bates and Caan were pure box office magic. Moreover, Kathy captured the "Best Actress" Oscar and Golden Globe award, a first in that genre (horror) for that category. To add to her happiness she married Tony Campisi, also an actor, in 1991.
Quality film scripts now started coming her way and the 1990s proved to be a rich and rewarding time for her. First, she and another older "overnight" film star, fellow Oscar winner Jessica Tandy, starred together in the modern portion of the beautifully nuanced, flashback period piece Fried Green Tomatoes (1991). She then outdid herself as the detached and depressed housekeeper accused of murdering her abusive husband (David Strathairn) in Dolores Claiborne (1995). Surprisingly, she was left out of the Oscar race for these two excellent performances. Not so, however, for her flashy political advisor Libby Holden in the movie Primary Colors (1998) and her quirky, liberal mom in About Schmidt (2002), receiving "Best Supporting Actress" nominations for both
Kathy has also done prolific work on TV as a seven-time Emmy nominee, and has taken to directing a couple of TV-movies on the sly. She was nominated for a DGA award after helming an episode of "Six Feet Under", in which she also had a recurring role. While some of her more recent movie parts have been generally unworthy of her talents, she has more than made up for it in TV-movies playing everything from cruel-minded caricatures (Little Orphan Annie's Miss Hannigan) to common, decent, every day folk.
Divorced from her husband since 1997, Kathy has been the Executive Committee Chair of the Actors Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors.
|Tony Campisi||(April 1991 - 1997) (divorced)|
Often portrays kind-hearted or cold-hearted characters
Characters who are frequently tough-talking and outspoken
Born at 11:12am-CDT. should be CST.
Her two older sisters appeared briefly in Primary Colors (1998).
Graduated from White Station High in Memphis, Tennessee, USA.
Lived with ex-husband Tony Campisi for 12 years before marrying him.
Youngest of 3 sisters. Sisters: Patricia and Mary.
Father, Langdon Doyle Bates, was a mechanical engineer. Mother Bertye Kathleen Bates died in 1997.
Graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, USA in 1969 with an BFA in Theater.
Her Oscar-winning role as Annie Wilkes in Misery (1990) was ranked #17 on the American Film Institute's villains list of the 100 years of The Greatest Screen Heroes and Villians.
Was nominated for Broadway's 1983 Tony Award as Best Actress (Play) for "'night, Mother."
Playwright Terrence McNally originally wrote the role of Frankie in "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune" for Bates. Johnny was played by Kenneth Welsh in the 1987 Off-Broadway production that starred Bates.
Member of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Actors Branch) [1998-2007].
Auditioned for TV series "Three's Company" (1976) for role that ultimately went to Joyce DeWitt. Bates says she was relieved she didn't get the part because, after auditioning, she felt she really didn't want it.
Her performance as Annie Wilkes in Misery (1990) is ranked #77 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
Mother: Bertye Kathleen Bates. She died in 1997.
She is an artist and writer and hopes to someday write and illustrate her own children's book. She has spoken at award ceremonies for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
In 2005, she and the rest of the chief creative team behind the "American Experience" documentary "Tupperware!" which aired on PBS were awarded the (George Foster) Peabody Award for excellence in electronic (i.e. television and radio) media. It was the 64th presentation of the internationally-renowned prize.
Donated $1 million to Hurricane Katrina victims.
Has said Dolores Claiborne (1995) is her favorite film role.
Warren Beatty originally offered her a small role in his film Reds (1981), however she was unable to obtain an international visa for her to film her role overseas. He kept contact with her and gave the role of a stenographer to Bates in his follow up Dick Tracy (1990).
She was the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress in a horror/thriller for her role in Misery (1990).
Bates' grandfather, Memphis attorney Finis Langdon Bates, wrote the book "The Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth" in 1907. It is said to be Bates' non-fiction account of hearing a deathbed confession from a man who claimed to be Abraham Lincoln's assassin, Booth, who had escaped capture and lived under another name out west. (source: pbs.org).
Bates was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2003, but she did not reveal her illness to the general public until 2009. She stated that she has been "in total remission" for over five and a half years, as of January 2009. In September 2012, Bates announced via Twitter that she has breast cancer and is recovering from a double mastectomy.
The Oscar changed everything. Better salary, working with better people, better projects, more exposure, less privacy.
[on losing the role of Frankie, which had been written for her by playwright Terrence McNally, to Michelle Pfeiffer in the movie version of "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune"] "I thought it was wonderful to see a love story about people over forty, ordinary people who were trying to connect. We haven't seen it before, and I don't think we will see it with this movie Frankie and Johnny (1991)."
I was never an ingénue. I've always just been a character actor. When I was younger, it was a real problem, because I was never pretty enough. It was hard, not just for the lack of work, but because you have to face up to how people are looking at you.
My mother used to tell this corny story about how the doctor smacked me on the behind when I was born and I thought it was applause, and I have been looking for it ever since.
[Excerpt from her 1991 Academy Award acceptance speech] I'd like to thank Jimmy Caan, and apologize publicly for the ankles.
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