Maclaine, Shirley

Maclaine, Shirley, 1934- , American actress and author, b. Richmond, Va., as Shirley MacLean Beaty. Maclaine’s father held various jobs in education and real estate, and her mother taught drama. She studied dance from an early age. After high school, she traveled to New York, making her first Broadway appearances working in chorus lines. Hal B. Wallis, a producer for Paramount Pictures, saw her when she was understudying the lead rolle in The Pajama Game (1954) and signed her to the studio. She made her film debut in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry (1955), winning a Golden Globe Award for her role. Major roles in the ‘60s included the dramatic lead in Billy Wilder’s The Apartment (1960), opposite Jack Lemmon and then, with the same team, Irama La Douce (1963), finishing the decade in Bob Fosse’s film of his Broadway show Sweet Charity (1969), winning another Golden Globe. In the ‘70s, she starred in the three-handkerchief weepie, The Turning Point (1977), about two retired dancers, and the dry comedy Being There (1979). She continued her run of dramatic melodramas with Terms of Endearment (1983), winning her first Academy Award for her role as the dominating mother of Debra Winger, Steel Magnolias (1989), and Carrie Fisher’s autobiographical Postcards from the Edge (1990). She also gained notoriety as the author of several best-selling memoirs, in which she asserted a belief in alternative spirituality and reincarnation. Among her awards and tributes include the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award (1998), the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award (2012), and a Kennedy Center Honor (2013). She is the sister of actor/director Warren Beatty. .

See her memoir, My Lucky Stars: A Hollywood Memoir (1996); spiritual memoirs, Don’t Fall Off the Mountain (1970), You Can Get There from Here (1975), Out on a Limb (1983), Dancing in the Light (1986).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Film and Television: Biographies