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Ellen Burstyn Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (41) | Personal Quotes (7) | Salary (1)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 7 December 1932Detroit, Michigan, USA
Birth NameEdna Rae Gillooly
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Born in Detroit, Ellen Burstyn worked a number of jobs before she became an actress. At 14, she was a short-order cook at a lunch counter. After graduating from Detroit's Cass Technical High School, she went to Texas to model and then to New York as a showgirl on The Jackie Gleason Show (1952). From there, it was to Montreal as a nightclub dancer and then Broadway with her debut in "Fair Game (1957)". By 1963, she appeared on the TV series The Doctors (1963), but she gained notice for her role in Goodbye Charlie (1964). Ellen then took time off to study acting with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio.

Her big break came when she was cast as the female lead in The Last Picture Show (1971). For this role, she received nominations for the Golden Globe and Academy Award. Next, she co-starred with Jack Nicholson in The King of Marvin Gardens (1972), giving a chilling performance. Then came The Exorcist (1973). Ellen was again nominated for the Golden Globe and Academy Award. In 1974, she starred in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), playing a waitress, which is a job that she well knows. For this performance, she won the Oscar as Best Actress as well as the British award for the same category. For the Golden Globe, she was nominated but lost to Marsha Mason. The same year, Ellen made history by winning a Tony Award for the Broadway play "Same Time, Next Year". She won praise and award nominations for the movie version of Same Time, Next Year (1978) and Resurrection (1980). "Resurrection" was a another great film in which she played a woman with the power to heal. Even with all these successful movies and all the awards, Ellen found that she could barely get a job in the 80s. A succession of TV movies resulting in two Emmy nominations kept Ellen going as did the series The Ellen Burstyn Show (1986). The TV movies continued through the 90s. Also in the 90s, Ellen was cast in the supporting role in such movies as The Cemetery Club (1993), How to Make an American Quilt (1995), The Baby-Sitters Club (1995) and The Spitfire Grill (1996). In addition to her acting, Burstyn was the first woman president of Actor's Equity, the actors' union, from 1982 to 1985.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Spouse (3)

Neil Nephew (1964 - 1972) (divorced)
Paul Roberts (14 September 1958 - 1962) (divorced) (1 child)
William Alexander (1950 - 1957) (divorced)

Trade Mark (2)

Her smile
Her soft, frail voice

Trivia (41)

Received a permanent spinal injury while filming The Exorcist (1973). In the sequence where she is thrown away from her possessed daughter, a harness jerked her hard away from the bed. She fell on her coccyx and screamed in pain, which was filmed for the movie.
She wrote to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences to protest Liv Ullmann's elimination from Oscar contention in 1974 for her performance in Scenes from a Marriage (1973) (aka "Scenes from a Marriage"). AMPAS used a rule under which TV presentations must have appeared in movie theaters in the same year, to prevent Ullmann from being nominated. The result is that Burstyn won the Oscar for her performance in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974).
Burstyn was not able to attend the 1975 Academy Awards Ceremony, thus couldn't accept her Best Actress Oscar for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974). Martin Scorsese, the film's director, accepted her Oscar on her behalf.
Has one grandchild.
Chosen by People Magazine as one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World." [May 2001]
Born at 4:00 AM EST.
Wore 20- and 40-pound fat suits and prosthetic necks to play Sara Goldfarb in Requiem for a Dream (2000).
Said in the book "On Women Turning 50" that she did not attend the 1975 Academy Awards, where she won the Best Actress award for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), because she was certain she would win and could not handle the pressure and attention. After attending several later Oscar ceremonies at which she lost, she regretted not being there to accept her award.
Along with Al Pacino and Harvey Keitel, was named co-president of The Actor's Studio in 2000.
Doesn't drink alcohol or coffee and practices Yoga.
Was first female president of The Actor's Equity (1982-1985).
Served as co-artistic director for The Actor's Studio.
Turned down the lead role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) because she had an ill husband to take care of.
Says she is often mistaken for fellow actress Louise Fletcher. People tell her she was great in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) (for which Fletcher won an Oscar). Fletcher reports being told frequently that she did a wonderful job in one of Burstyn's roles.
Received the National Board of Review's Career Achievement Award in December 2000 at Tavern on the Green.
Practices the mystical Islamic religion Sufism.
Is an ordained minister.
Is a Vegetarian.
Played her Academy Award nominated character from Same Time, Next Year (1978) on Broadway first and won a Tony Award as Best Actress (Dramatic) for the role in 1975.
Member of jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1981
Co-head of jury at the Berlin International Film Festival 1988
Member of the jury at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1977
She has Irish, French, Pennsylvania Dutch (German), and Native American ancestry.
The character of Jean Harris seems to be a favorite for Ellen Burstyn. Burstyn was Emmy-nominated for the lead role as Jean Harris in the 1981 TV-movie, The People vs. Jean Harris (1981) and, in 2006, she was nominated as a supporting character (as an ex-lover of Jean Harris's lover) in the cable-movie based on the Harris case in Mrs. Harris (2005). Burstyn is perhaps the first actress to be nominated for a performance that is less than 1-minute long (in fact, it is approximately 15 seconds). She vied for the Emmy with fellow "Mrs. Harris" co-star and Oscar-winner Cloris Leachman. Neither won.
Made a special Academy Awards appearance in 1998, at the The 70th Annual Academy Awards (1998), and participated in the Oscar Winners Tribute sequence along with other Academy Award winners.
Was listed as a potential nominee on the 2007 Razzie Award nominating ballot. She was suggested in the Worst Supporting Actress category for her performance in the film The Wicker Man (2006), however, she failed to receive a nomination.
Worked as an acrobat and as a model for paperback covers.
Godmother of her The Spitfire Grill (1996) co-star, Marcia Gay Harden,'s children.
Her third (and last) husband, Neil Nephew was a bright, talented upcoming actor and writer (The Monkees (1966)). According to Ellen, he eventually degenerated into mental illness and became schizophrenic and violent. He left her just before she became a star. When she refused his pleas to get back together, he stalked and terrorized her for many years. He committed suicide in 1978.
In 2005, she was awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award in Acting of the Savannah Film Festival.
Recipient of the 2006 Career Achievement in Acting Award from the Hamptons Film Festival.
The runaway story of her character Alice Hyatt in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) inspired the character of Dolors (Montse Caminal) in the Short film Silence (2007).
In September 2009, she became the 20th person to have won the Triple Crown of Acting: Academy Award (1975: Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)); Tony Award (1975: Same Time Next Year), and Emmy Award (2009: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999)).
Is one of twelve actresses to have won the Triple Crown of Acting (an Oscar, Emmy and Tony); the others in chronological order are Helen Hayes, Ingrid Bergman, Shirley Booth, Liza Minnelli, Rita Moreno, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Audrey Hepburn, Anne Bancroft, Vanessa Redgrave and Maggie Smith.
Became a mother for the 1st child, when she adopted her son, Jefferson Roberts, with her now ex-2nd husband, Paul Roberts.
Release of her book, "Lessons in Becoming Myself".
Is one of 14 Best Actress Oscar winners to have not accepted their Academy Award in person, Burstyn's being for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974). The others are Katharine Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, Joan Crawford, Judy Holliday, Vivien Leigh Anna Magnani, Ingrid Bergman, Sophia Loren, Anne Bancroft, Patricia Neal, Elizabeth Taylor, Maggie Smith and Glenda Jackson.
One of Hollywood's Late Bloomers. Did not achieve success until age 39 when she was cast in "The Last Picture Show".
Was the 75th actress to receive an Academy Award; she won the Best Actress Oscar for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) at The 47th Annual Academy Awards (1975) on April 8, 1975.
Acting mentor of Megan Mullally.

Personal Quotes (7)

Acting feels like a congenital condition to me - it's in my genes.
"I've wanted an Oscar since I was seven years old. It is the basis of all my secret fantasies." -- quoted by Robert Osborne in "Academy Awards 1974 Oscar Annual".
It's unfortunate but our society is such that, for women in Hollywood, you get to a certain age and just fall off a cliff. But in my case, I refuse to die. I will hang on, by a little finger if necessary.
"I thought it was fabulous. My next ambition is to get nominated for seven seconds, and, ultimately, I want to be nominated for a picture in which I don't even appear." Interview with Associated Press Radio, 2004, regarding her Emmy nomination for her performance in Mrs. Harris, in which she appeared for 14 seconds.
The main way you grow is in deepening compassion. Somehow when you go through painful experiences you're more sympathetic to other people's experiences. After you've been working for awhile and discover how much material you have to call on, you end up saying, 'Oh, thank god I had an unhappy childhood!' I suppose there are some actors somewhere who have had a happy childhood. I just haven't met them yet.
[on preparing to undertake a complex role] You have hold of a string that you're following, and you're following where this question leads to that question, and it keeps on going until you come to some specific understanding of this human being - as opposed to every other human being in the world.
I'm a deep-water swimmer. Everything on the surface is usually a mask. I always know what's behind the mask.

Salary (1)

Thursday's Game (1974) $10,000

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