Shelley Alexis Duvall was born in Houston, Texas. Her mother and father were Bobbie and Robert Duvall. According to an interview of Shelley by MonoFilms VideoGuide, as a young child, Shelley's mother Bobbie humorously gave Shelley the nickname "Manic Mouse" because she would often run around her house and tip over furniture. Shelley however was more than a mouse, but rather quite the little artist. Her favorite thing to do when she was very young was draw. She also has three brothers: Scott, Shane, and Stewart.
Shelley graduated from Waltrip High School in Texas and at first became a cosmetics salesperson. It was in 1970 when Shelley was discovered by talent scouts at a local party. Director Robert Altman wanted to cast Shelley in a film that he was making during the time. Shelley had experience in acting in high school plays at the time and took Altman's offer and she appeared in her first film Brewster McCloud. Altman was so fascinated by her performance that she appeared in his next films including: McCabe and Mrs. Miller in 1971, Thieves Like Us in 1974, and Nashville in 1975. Aside from these three successful films, Duvall's acting blossomed in her leading role as Mille Lammoroux in 3 Women in 1977. Duvall's acting was so superb that she won Best Actress at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival. Shelley also starred as Bernice in John Micklin Silver's Bernice Bobs Her Hair in 1976, and had a cameo in Woody Allen's Annie Hall in 1977. In the same year, Shelley also hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live.
When the 1980s hit, Duvall's career was just beginning. She is famously known for playing the role of "Wendy Torrance" in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining with Jack Nicholson. During the making of this film, Kubrick and Duvall would often become very frustrated with each other. The most obvious example is when Kubrick shot the famous "baseball bat scene" with Duvall and Nicholson 127 times, which is the world record for most number of takes in any film set. Despite their differences, Duvall admitted that she learned more from Kubrick than any of her previous films and that she "wouldn't trade the experience for anything." Kubrick also knew that he pushed Shelley and treated her the way he did for a significant reason, as the role of "Wendy Torrance" was even said by Jack Nicholson, "the hardest role anyone has ever had to play."
In January of 1979, Robert Altman would offer Duvall yet another role in one of his films. Only the role was a certain role that Altman believed she was born to play. That certain role was "Olive Oyl" in the real life version of Popeye. Shelley was skeptical at first on accepting the role, due to bad memories as a child of negatively being called "Olive Oyl" in grade school. She fortunately decided to take the role and performed admirably. Shelley also sings several songs in this film. The most famous ones would be "He's Large" and "He Needs Me" which also appeared in the film Punch Drunk Love.
As the 1980s rolled on, Shelley's career never slowed down. She appeared as a supporting actress in Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits in 1981; she played "Susan Frankenstein" in Tim Burton's Frankenweenie (1984) , and co-starred in the hit comedy film Roxanne in 1987 starring Steve Martin. From 1982 to 1986, Shelley continued her filming career but from a different aspect. Since Shelley was 17, she had a collection of a variety of illustrated classic fairy tale books. During the making of Popeye, she showed her collection to Robin Williams. One particular fairy tale she showed Robin was "The Frog Prince". Picturing Robin as the real life Frog Prince, Shelley created Platypus Productions, her own production company. Shelley went to Showtime with the idea for airing a television program that was based on fairy tales. She produced Fairy Tale Theater which Showtime aired that was a hit television series that was based on several classic fairy tales. Fairy Tale Theatre was on television from 1982-1987. Each episode was a one-hour series and there were a total of twenty six episodes, all hosted by Shelley Duvall. Shelley also starred in four out of the twenty six episodes. In 1985, Ms. Duvall created Tall Tales and Legends that was aired for three years until it ended in 1988. Similar to Fairy Tale Theatre, Tall Tales and Legends was also a one-hour series hosted, produced, and guest starred by Duvall. Although it only consisted of nine episodes, Shelley was nominated for an Emmy from the series. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Shelley discovered Think Entertainment; another production company which helped Shelley create more programs and movies that were made for television that aired on common cable channels. Shelley produced three more programs from these production companies that aired on Showtime: Nightmare Classics, Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories, and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. Her Bedtime Stories program earned her a 2nd Emmy Nomination. Shelley sold Think Entertainment in 1993 and retired as a producer.
Shelley Duvall's later career found her a number of different roles. She appeared in the family comedy Home Fries in 1998 playing "Mrs. Jackson", Drew Barrymore's character's mother. Other comedic films Shelley appeared in were Suburban Commando in 1991, and Changing Habits in 1997. She also had cameos in several TV series' such as: Frasier, L.A. Law, The Ray Bradbury Theater, Wishbone, and several others. Shelley returned to the horror genre when she played "Martha Stewart" in The 4th Floor in 1999 and played the role of "Mrs. Stein" in Big Monster On Campus in 2000; which consisted of both the comedy and horror genre.
Since 2002, Shelley Duvall has not acted in any films, but lives a quiet and peaceful life in Blanco, Texas. She has lived in Blanco since 1994, after her home in Los Angeles got damaged by an earthquake. For the last couple years, there have been several rumors about Duvall being a "recluse" and not being in touch with reality. However, a recent interview in 2010 was conducted by MondoFilm VideoGuide that had heavy proof that Shelley is as normal and aware of reality as ever. She has also noted in this interview that she takes care of several animals at her home in Texas and writes a lot of poetry, and that returning to acting is always a possibility.
|Bernard Sampson||(7 July 1970 - 1977) (divorced)|
Playing quirky and eccentric characters
Wide eyes, toothy smile, and lanky figure
Was discovered in 1970 by Brian McKay and Tommy Thompson, who spotted her at a party while scouting locations for Robert Altman's Brewster McCloud (1970) in Houston, Texas. At the time, she was majoring in nutrition and diet therapy at South Texas Junior College and working as a cosmetics salesperson at a Foley's department store. Although she had no prior acting experience, she was casted by Altman in the film and won a three-picture contract with MGM for her performance.
Sister of Stewart Duvall.
Daughter of attorney Robert R. Duvall (not the actor) and Bobbie Crawford.
Milos Forman considered her for the role of the prostitute in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). While screening Thieves Like Us (1974) to see if she was right for the role, he became interested in Louise Fletcher, who had a supporting role, and decided to cast her as "Nurse Ratched".
Was romantically involved with Paul Simon from 1976 to 1979. He was the one to tell her she had won Best Actress at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival for her performance in Robert Altman's 3 Women (1977). He broke up with her at the airport as she was about to board a plane to London to begin filming The Shining (1980).
Served as secretary of the Board of Governors Executive Committee for the National Academy of Cable Programming.
Served as chairman for the 1987 Golden ACE committee for the National Cable Television Academy's ACE Awards.
Was inducted into the Video Hall of Fame in December 1985 as an innovator in video programming.
Once lived with 11 dogs, 12 parrots, and 58 finches, budgies, and cockateels.
Pauline Kael once referred to her as "The Female Buster Keaton".
Got hooked on cigarettes after having to smoke for her role in Robert Altman's Thieves Like Us (1974).
Turned down a role in Robert Altman's A Wedding (1978).
Once owned the film rights to Tom Robbins' "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues." Despite being signed by Warner Bros. in 1980 to write and star in her own adaptation of the book, the project fell through and she gave up the rights after four years.
Studied at the renowned Actors Studio in New York, during the early 1970s, however dropped out after only a few classes as she found the process too analytical and technical. She left and returned to her own instinctive, organic approach to acting.
Was intended to star opposite Paul Simon in One Trick Pony (1980), which Simon wrote as a vehicle for the two of them while they were in a relationship during the late '70s. However, after their split and Duvall's departure for England to film The Shining (1980), Simon made the film with Blair Brown.
Is a huge fan of Sean Connery, and was lured by Terry Gilliam into making Time Bandits (1981) under the assumption that she would be working with him. Gilliam called Duvall while she was completing work on Popeye (1980) to ask her to appear in the film. When she displayed reluctance, Gilliam, knowing her adoration of Connery, told her "Sean Connery's going to be in it," to which Duvall immediately replied, "I'll do it." As it turned out, they didn't share any scenes together. She later laughed this off, crediting Gilliam's "devilish" sense of humor.
Learned Italian to play "Countess Gemini" in The Portrait of a Lady (1996).
Following the 1994 Northridge earthquake that damaged her Los Angeles home, she left California and since then has lived primarily in Blanco, Texas, where she remains fairly reclusive.
At director Stanley Kubrick's insistence, she and Jack Nicholson performed 127 takes of the baseball bat scene in The Shining (1980), which broke a world-record for the most retakes of a single movie scene with spoken dialogue. Shelley said she learned more from working with Kubrick on that film than she did on all her previous films.
Was Robert Altman's second choice for the role of "Sheila Shea" in A Perfect Couple (1979), the role having been originally written for Sandy Dennis. However, when Dennis left the project, Altman offered it to Duvall, but as she had already begun production on The Shining (1980), she couldn't commit. The role ultimately went to Marta Heflin.
Named after "Frankenstein" author Mary Shelley.
Was in France, attending the 1977 Cannes Film Festival, when she heard she'd gotten the role of Wendy Torrence in The Shining (1980).
[on director Terry Gilliam] Terry is one of those people that everybody wants to please, because he has such a great sense of humor, and he cares so much about his work, that he just makes everyone else care. Terry really is a true artist. In every way, he lives and breathes his work, and enjoys the hell out of it.
[on working with Stanley Kubrick on The Shining (1980)] For a person so charming and so likable - indeed lovable - he can do some pretty cruel things when you're filming. Because it seemed to me, at times, that the end justified the means. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. Why? Because of Stanley, and it was a fascinating learning experience. But I wouldn't want to go through it again.
When I turned 18, I felt I was grown up. Then when I was 21, I reflected, "Boy, I was just a kid then; now I'm grown up." The same thing happened when I was 27. It wasn't until I was in my early 30s that I realized it was a futile goal to have. You're never grown up. We're all still dealing with the same hopes, same fears, same dreams that we had as children.
The trick to acting is not to be afraid. If you're not afraid of making mistakes, you usually don't make them.
Don't let any setback defeat you. The world doesn't end just because one thing goes wrong.
[on her memorable role in Popeye (1980)] God, as a child, I was so embarrassed when the kids would call me "Olive Oyl" because it meant you were skinny as a rail, you had sparrow legs, and an Adam's apple. I mean, who wants to admit she was born to play Olive Oyl?
[on working with Woody Allen on Annie Hall (1977)] He wanted "Faster! Faster!" That was my main note from him. He likes the dialogue to be fast and for a Texan, especially one who'd only been to New York a couple of times at that point, it was very difficult.
[on filming The Shining (1980)] That was a life experience like the Vietnam War probably was for veterans. It was grueling -- six days a week, 12- to 16-hour days, half an hour off for lunch, for a year and one month. The role demanded that I cry for, whew, at least nine of those months. Jack [Nicholson] had to be angry all the time, and I had to be in hysterics all the time. It was very upsetting.
Life is all about movement, and when you stop moving, you're dead! That's my big philosophy -- it's all about motion. Life can change in the blinking of an eye, so you just have to appreciate every minute and keep going.
If I had listened to everyone who told me no, I'd never have gotten anything accomplished. When I really believe in something and someone says, "You can't do it," it just spurs me on.
I might get killed, but I wouldn't die. I'd be born again as another me - or a lampshade, but I'll be on earth - always... [I] believe in everything and everybody existing forever and on and on in the same or other forms.
[on director Robert Altman] Nobody else calls him "Pirate" 'cept me. That's 'cuz I think he's the bravest, toughest, most imaginative man I've ever met.
Acting isn't difficult. You just do it. Everybody in life acts anyhow, President Nixon, The Pope, even John Lennon.
[on working with Stanley Kubrick] Well, of course, Robert Altman was almost the only director I'd ever worked with. It was time for me to test my own legs. There was a kind of possessiveness about Bob. He put me in so many of his films, but apart from him, I wasn't getting offered a lot of roles - hardly any, for that matter. It was like he was the only one with any confidence in me. So here was my chance to work with Kubrick.
When I play a character, at that moment nothing else exists. Certainly no theory. I try not to intellectualize.
[on Robert Altman] Bob is like family, I trust him almost implicitly. He would never do anything to hurt me. Bob won my trust right at the beginning. He encouraged me to be myself, to never take acting lessons or to take myself too seriously.
I struggled to get a decent acting job for years, before finally giving it a rest for a while. It would be great to start all over again, if the right role came along.
Tim Burton is just a gem. He is very quiet and shy, believe it or not, but very funny too.
I'm not a fan of CGI, I think it's a bit lazy. Look at what many filmmakers accomplished before it came along!
[on The Shining (1980) and Stanley Kubrick]: Stanley's head to head approach brought the very best out of Jack, Scatman, me, Danny, everybody. The mixture of anger, frustration, and ideas made the film really fly. I might have hated him at the time, but I now see him as a really important filmmaker who gave me the role of my life and made me the sort of actress I never dared think I'd become.
(1997) Guest of honor at the International Children's Film Festival in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
(2009) Residing in and around Blanco, Texas since 1994.
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