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Ellen Burstyn

Burstyn at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival première of Poliwood, May 1, 2009.
Born Edna Rae Gillooly
December 7, 1932 (1932-12-07) (age 77)
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Other name(s) credited as Ellen McRae until 1970 in nearly all her film and television appearances
Occupation Actress
Years active since 1958
Spouse(s) -William Alexander (1950–1957, divorced)
-Paul Roberts (1958–1962, divorced)
-Neil Burstyn (1964–1972, divorced)
ellenburstyn.net, Official website

Ellen Burstyn (born December 7, 1932) is an American film, stage and television actress.

Contents

Early life

Burstyn was born Edna Rae Gillooly in Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of Correine Marie (née Hamel) and John Austin Gillooly, who was a building contractor.[1] She describes herself as "Irish, French, Pennsylvania Dutch, a little Canadian Indian".[2][3] She was raised Catholic but is now known to practice Sufism.[4][5] Her parents divorced when she was young. She would later refer to her mother as tough, violent and controlling. She left home at age eighteen.

Career

Burstyn debuted on Broadway in 1957 and joined Lee Strasberg's The Actors Studio in New York City, New York, in 1967. In 1975, she won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for her performance in the comedy Same Time, Next Year (a role she would reprise in the film version in 1978). Until 1970, she was credited as Ellen McRae in nearly all her film and television appearances.

Burstyn received Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress in 1971 for her role in the drama film The Last Picture Show and for Best Actress in 1973 for the horror film The Exorcist. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1974 for her performance in the drama Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, directed by Martin Scorsese. She also received Best Actress nominations in 1978 for Same Time, Next Year, in 1980 for the fantasy-drama Resurrection, and for the drama Requiem for a Dream in 2000.

Burstyn at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, September 2007.

In the early to mid 1960s, Burstyn played Dr. Kate Bartok on the NBC television soap opera The Doctors. She worked on several primetime television shows of the 1960s, including guest appearances on Perry Mason, Maverick, Wagon Train, 77 Sunset Strip, The Big Valley and Gunsmoke. She hosted NBC's Saturday Night Live, a late-night sketch comedy and variety show, in 1980.

In 1986, she had her own ABC television situation comedy, The Ellen Burstyn Show costarring Megan Mullally as her daughter and Elaine Stritch as her mother; it was canceled after one season. From 2000 to 2002, Burstyn appeared in the CBS television drama That's Life. In 2006, she starred as a Epicopalian bishop in the controversial NBC comedy-drama series The Book of Daniel; although eight episodes from taped, it was canceled after four episodes.

In 2006, Burstyn appeared in the drama-romance film The Fountain, directed by Darren Aronofsky, with whom she worked in Requiem for a Dream. Since 2007, she has had an occasional recurring role on the HBO television drama series Big Love, playing the mother of polygamist wife Barbara Henrickson.

She provided a supporting role as the mother of two sons in the drama-romance film The Elephant King . The film originally premièred at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival but did not open in U.S. theaters until October 2008. At the time, it was credited as receiving the highest per-screen opening gross as any film in the country.

Burstyn returned to the stage from March 18–May 4, 2008, in an Off-Broadway production of Stephen Adly Guirgis's The Little Flower of East Orange, directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman in a co-production by LAByrinth Theater Company and The Public Theater; Burstyn played the title role of Marie Therese.

In addition to her stage work, Burstyn portrayed former First Lady Barbara Bush in director Oliver Stone's biographical film W in 2008.

In 2009, she won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal of the bipolar estranged mother of Detective Elliot Stabler on NBC's police procedural Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. With this win, Burstyn became the eighteenth actor to win the " triple crown of acting" — an Academy, Emmy and Tony Award.

In 1990 she won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre.

Emmy Awards and controversy

Burstyn was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, for her role as Jean Harris in the biographical television film The People vs. Jean Harris (1981) and again for another television drama film, Pack of Lies (1987), an adaptation of the 1983 play.

In 2006, she was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for a role credited as "Former Tarnower Steady" in HBO's biographical television film Mrs. Harris. (She had played Jean Harris in The People vs. Jean Harris). She was nominated for a performance that consisted of fourteen seconds of screen time, two lines of dialogue and a total of thirty-eight words. This is the shortest nominated performance in the history of the Emmy Awards.

Soon after the nominations were announced, an outcry ensued from the press and the public regarding the worthiness of the nomination. One explanation for the nomination was that people were honoring Burstyn for her nominated but non-winning performance from the first Harris television film. A more popular accusation was that the nominating committee was either confused in their recollection, or merely "threw in" her name from sheer recognition, assuming a worthy performance without actually seeing it.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the administrator of the Primetime Emmy Awards, initially insisted that "based on the popular vote, this is a legitimate nomination". Meanwhile, HBO deflected the blame for submitting the nomination to the movie-production company. Burstyn's own reaction ranged from initial silence to comments such as, "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," and "This doesn't have anything to do with me. I don't even want to know about this. You people work it out yourself."[6]

Ultimately, Kelly Macdonald, who starred in The Girl in the Cafe, won the award. In March 2007, the Academy officially announced that eligibility for a Primetime Emmy Award in any long-form supporting-actor category required nominees to appear on-screen in at least ten percent of the project (nine minutes in a typical ninety-minute television film).

Many critics still cite this incident to criticize the Emmy Award nomination process, claiming that name recognition has played an increasingly visible role over the years.[7]

Other activities

During the 1970s Burstyn was active in the movement to free convicted boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter from jail.

In 1981, Burstyn recorded "The Ballad of the Nazi Soldier's Wife" (Kurt Weill's musical setting of Bertolt Brecht's text "Und was bekam des Soldaten Weib?") for Ben Bagley's album Kurt Weill Revisited, Vol. 2.

Burstyn served as president of the Actors' Equity Association from 1982 to 1985.

In 1997, Burstyn was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame. In 2000, she was named co-president of The Actors Studio, alongside Al Pacino and Harvey Keitel.

Personal life

In 1950, she married Bill Alexander, but they were divorced in 1957. The following year, she married Paul Roberts, with whom she adopted a boy named Jefferson in 1962; the couple was divorced the same year.[8]

In 1964, she married fellow actor Neil Burstyn, but the union was turbulent. Neil Burstyn was schizophrenic; he would have episodes of violence, and eventually left her. He attempted to come back to her, but she rejected him, ultimately divorcing him in 1972. In her autobiography, Lessons in Becoming Myself, Burstyn revealed that he stalked her over a period of six years after she divorced him. He eventually forced sex with her somehow, but was not arrested, as forced sex in marriage was not yet considered a crime.[9] He committed suicide in 1978, upon which his parents sent Burstyn a telegram stating "Congratulations, you've won another Oscar; Neil killed himself".[10]

During the 1970s Burstyn began to question her Catholic faith. After studying many religions, she committed herself to a mystical practice of Sufism.[11] She affiliates herself to all religious faiths as she explains: "I am a spirit opening to the truth that lives in all of these religions”.[12]

Bibliography

  • Burstyn, Ellen (2006). Lessons in Becoming Myself. Riverhead Books (New York City, New York). ISBN 9781594489297.

Filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1963 The Greatest Show on Earth TV
1964 Goodbye Charlie Franzie Salzman
For Those Who Think Young Dr. Pauline Thayer
1969 The Winner Ellen McLeod
1970 Alex in Wonderland Beth Morrison
Tropic of Cancer Mona Miller
1971 The Last Picture Show Lois Farrow National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1972 The King of Marvin Gardens Sally
1973 The Exorcist Chris MacNeil Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1974 Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore Alice Hyatt Academy Award for Best Actress
BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Harry and Tonto Shirley Mallard
Thursday's Game Lynne Evers TV
1977 Providence Sonia Lngham
1978 A Dream of Passion Brenda
Same Time, Next Year Doris Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — American Movie Award for Best Actress
1980 Resurrection Edna Mae McCauley Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actress
1981 Silence of the North Olive Frederickson Nominated — Genie Award for Best Performance by a Foreign Actress
The People vs. Jean Harris Jean Harris Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
1984 The Ambassador Alex Hacker
Terror in the Aisles archival footage
1985 Into Thin Air Joan Walker TV
Twice in a Lifetime Kate MacKenzie
1986 The Ellen Burstyn Show Ellen Brewer TV
Act of Vengeance Margaret Yablonski TV
Something in Common Lynn Hollander TV
1987 Look away Mary Todd Lincoln TV
Pack of Lies Barbara Jackson Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1988 Hannah's War Katalin
1990 When You Remember Me Nurse Cooder TV
1991 Grand Isle Mademoiselle Reisz
Dying Young Mrs. O'Neil
Mrs. Lambert Remembers Love Lillian "Lil" Lambert TV
1992 Taking Back My Life: The Nancy Ziegenmeyer Story Wilma TV
1993 Shattered Trust: The Shari Karney Story Joan Delvecchio TV
The Cemetery Club Esther Moskowitz
1994 Trick of the Eye Frances Griffin TV
Getting Gotti Jo Giaclone TV
When a Man Loves a Woman Emily
Getting Out Arlie's Mother TV
The Color of Evening Kate O'Reilly
1995 How to Make an American Quilt Hy Dodd Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
The Baby-Sitters Club Emily Haberman
Follow the River Gretel TV
My Brother's Keeper Helen TV
Roommates Judith
1996 Timepiece Maud Gannon TV
Our Son, the Matchmaker TV
The Spitfire Grill Hannah Ferguson
1997 Flash Laura Strong TV
Deceiver Mook
A Deadly Vision Yvette Watson TV
1998 Playing by Heart Mildred
The Patron Saint of Liars June Clatterbuck TV
You Can Thank Me Later Shirley Cooperberg
1999 Walking Across Egypt Mattie Rigsbee
Night Ride Home Maggie TV
2000 Mermaid Trish Gill TV
Requiem for a Dream Sara Goldfarb Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Female
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Satellite Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Chlotrudis Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
The Yards Val Handler
2001 Within These Walls Joan Thomas TV
Dodson's Journey Mother
2002 Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood Viviane Joan 'Vivi' Abbott Walker
Red Dragon Grandma Dolarhyde (voice only)
2003 Brush with Fate Rika TV
2004 The Five People You Meet in Heaven Ruby TV
The Madam's Family: The Truth About the Canal Street Brothel Tommie TV
2005 Mrs. Harris Ex-lover #3 Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Down in the Valley Ma
Our Fathers Mary Ryan TV
2006 The Fountain Dr. Lilian Guzetti
The Wicker Man Sister Summersisle
The Elephant King Diana Hunt
30 Days Maura
2007 The Stone Angel Hagar Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Mitch Albom's For One More Day Pauline Benetto Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
2008 Lovely, Still Mary
The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond Miss Adie
W. Barbara Bush
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Bernie Stabler Episode "Swing"
Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress – Drama Series
2009 The Velveteen Rabbit Swan voice
Greta Katherine awaiting release
Main Street Georgiana Carr Tara
2010 The Mighty Macs Mother St. John completed

References

  1. ^Staff writer (undated). "Ellen Burstyn Biography (1932-)". filmreference.com. Accessed December 20, 2009.
  2. ^ Clark, John (October 19, 2009). Movies; Independent Minded; Academy Award Winner Ellen Burstyn, "A 'Tough Cookie,' Is Back with Two Gritty Films and a TV Show" (Abstract; (subscription required) for full article). Los Angeles Times (via ProQuest Archiver). Accessed December 20, 2009.
  3. ^ Staff writer (February 17, 1975). "Show Business: Gillooly Doesn't Live Here Anymore". Time. Accessed December 20, 2009.
  4. ^ Staff writer (November 20, 2006). "Ellen Burstyn: U.S. Acting 'Needs Some Help'". Reuters (via Newsmax Media). Accessed December 20, 2009.
  5. ^ Reiss, Valerie (Undated; circa 2006). "Ellen Burstyn's True Face — The Oscar-Winning Actress Talks about Embracing Her Essence, a Love of Sufi Poetry, and Her Scorchingly Honest New Memoir". Beliefnet. Accessed December 20, 2009.
  6. ^ Staff writer (November 3, 2006). "Ellen Burstyn Sounds Off on Her Emmy Nod". The Associated Press (via USA Today). http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2006-11-03-burstyn_x.htm. Retrieved December 20, 2009.  
  7. ^ de Moraes, Lisa (March 17, 2007). "Emmy Rules Change after Burstyn Nomination Flap". The Washington Post. Accessed December 20, 2009.
  8. ^ Staff writer (undated). "Timeline — A Chronology of Key Events from Lessons in Becoming Myself". ellenburstyn.net (Burstyn's official website). Accessed December 20, 2009.
  9. ^Unclear (May 27, 2008). "Screen Legends: Ellen Burstyn". Unclear source. Accessed December 20, 2009.
  10. ^ Staff writer (December 1, 2006). Ellen Burstyn — Burstyn Feared Death as Abusive Husband Stalked Her". contactmusic.com. Accessed December 20, 2009.
  11. ^ Staff writer (undated). "Ellen Burstyn". Notable Names Database. Accessed December 20, 2009.
  12. ^ "Ellen Burstyn's True Face Belief.net. Retrieved on 2009-12-27.

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