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Gena Rowlands

On the red carpet at the 1992 Emmy Awards
Born Virginia Cathryn Rowlands
June 19, 1930 (1930-06-19) (age 79)
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1955–present
Spouse(s) John Cassavetes (1954-1989, his death)

Gena Rowlands (born June 19, 1930) is an American actress of film, stage and television. She collaborated with her actor-director husband John Cassavetes on ten films.

Contents

Early years

Born as Virginia Cathryn Rowlands in Madison, Wisconsin,[1] Rowlands was raised in Cambria. Her father, Edwin Myrwyn Rowlands, was a banker and a state legislator,[2] and her mother, Mary Allen (née Neal), was a painter and housewife originally from Arkansas.[3][4] The family moved to Washington, D.C., in 1939 when Edwin was appointed to a position in the United States Department of Agriculture; moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1942 when he was appointed as branch manager of the Office of Price Administration[5]; and later moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Gena attended the University of Wisconsin from 1947 to 1950,[6] where she was a popular student already renowned for her beauty.[7] She left for New York City to study drama at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Career

Stage and television

In the early 1950s, Rowlands performed with repertory theatre companies and at the Provincetown Playhouse. She made her Broadway debut in The Seven Year Itch and toured in a national production of the play. In 1956, she starred in Middle of the Night opposite Edward G. Robinson.

Rowlands guest starred on such anthology television series as Robert Montgomery Presents, Kraft Television Theatre, and Studio One (1955). In 1961–1962, she starred as the deaf-mute wife of Robert Lansing on 87th Precinct. In that same season, she appeared on Target: The Corruptors! Thereafter, she guest starred in The Lloyd Bridges Show and Breaking Point. In 1967, she was cast as socialite Adrienne Van Leyden in the prime time soap opera Peyton Place.

In 1967, she guest starred in the western series The Road West, starring Barry Sullivan, Andrew Prine, and Glenn Corbett. In 1975, she appeared with Peter Falk, Oskar Werner, and Martha Scott in the Columbo episode Playback, playing wheelchair-using Elizabeth Van Wick, whose husband (Werner) murders her wealthy mother (Scott).

Teaming with her husband, writer/director John Cassavetes, whom she married in 1954, Rowlands starred in the television production Staccato. She also appeared on Cassavetes's 1959–1960 NBC detective series Johnny Staccato as "Nina" in the episode "Fly Baby, Fly." In 1985, Rowlands played the mother in the critically acclaimed made-for-TV movie An Early Frost. In recent years, she has appeared in Paulie, Monk and in Mira Nair's HBO movie Hysterical Blindness for which she won her third Emmy. In 1963 she guest starred in an episode on the television series Bonanza.

Cassavetes films

Rowlands made her film debut in The High Cost of Loving in 1958. She and Cassavetes made ten films together: A Child is Waiting (1963), Faces (1968), Machine Gun McCain (1969), Minnie and Moskowitz (1971), A Woman Under the Influence (1974), Two-Minute Warning (1976), Opening Night (1977), Gloria (1980; nomination for Academy Award for Best Actress), Tempest (1982), and Love Streams (1984).

According to Boston University film scholar Ray Carney, Rowlands sought to suppress an early version of Cassavetes' first film, Shadows, that Carney says he rediscovered after decades of searching.[8] Rowlands also became involved in the screenings of Husbands and Love Streams, according to Carney. The UCLA Film and Television Archive mounted a restoration of Husbands, as it was pruned down (without Cassavetes' consent, and in violation of his contract) by Columbia Pictures several months after its release, in an attempt to restore as much of the removed content as possible. At Rowlands' request, UCLA created an alternative print with almost ten minutes of content edited out, as Rowlands felt that these scenes were in poor taste. The alternative print is the only one that has been made available for rental.[9]

Post-Cassavetes films

Rowlands was seen in The Notebook, which was directed by her son Nick Cassavetes, opposite James Garner. In 2004, she won her first Daytime Emmy for her role as Mrs. Evelyn Ritchie in The Incredible Mrs. Ritchie. Rowlands has been nominated for two Academy Awards, six Emmy nominations, one Daytime Emmy, eight Golden Globes, three Satellite Awards, and one SAG Award. Some of her notable wins include a Silver Berlin Bear; three Emmy Awards and one Daytime Emmy; two Golden Globes; two National Board of Review Awards; two Satellite Awards; and one Prize San Sebastián. In 2005, she appeared opposite Kate Hudson, Peter Sarsgaard, and John Hurt in the gothic thriller The Skeleton Key.

In 2007, she played a supporting role opposite Parker Posey and Melvil Poupaud in Broken English, an independent American feature written and directed by her daughter Zoe Cassavetes. In 2009, she appeared on an episode of Monk ("Mr. Monk and the Lady Next Door").

Personal life

Gena Rowlands was married to John Cassavetes from April 9, 1954, until his death on February 3, 1989. They had three children, all actor-directors: Nick, Alexandra, and Zoe.

Filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1958 The High Cost of Loving Jenny Fry
1959 Shadows Woman in Nightclub Audience (uncredited)
1962 Lonely Are the Brave Jerry Bondi
The Spiral Road Els
1963 A Child is Waiting Sophie Widdicombe Benham
1967 Tony Rome Rita Kosterman
1968 Faces Jeannie Rapp
1969 Machine Gun McCain Rosemary Scott aka Gli intoccabili
1971 Minnie and Moskowitz Minnie Moore
1974 A Woman Under the Influence Mabel Longhetti Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
National Board of Review Award for Best Actress
Prize San Sebastián for Best Actress
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
1975 Columbo: Playback Elizabeth Van Wick
1976 Two-Minute Warning Janet
1977 Opening Night Myrtle Gordon Silver Bear for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1978 The Brink's Job Mary Pino
A Question of Love Linda Ray Guettner
1979 Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter Abigail Mason
1980 Gloria Gloria Swenson Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1982 Tempest Antonia Dimitrius
1983 Thursday's Child Victoria Alden Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
1984 Love Streams Sarah Lawson Nastro d'Argento Best Actress - Foreign Film
1985 An Early Frost Katherine Pierson Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
1987 Light of Day Jeanette Rasnick
The Betty Ford Story Betty Ford Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
1988 Another Woman Marion Post
1990 Hollywood Mavericks Herself
1991 Once Around Marilyn Bella
Night on Earth Victoria Snelling
Ted & Venus Mrs. Turner
Face of a Stranger Pat Foster Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1992 Crazy in Love Honora Swift Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
1993 Silent Cries Peggy Sutherland
Anything for John Herself
1995 Something to Talk About Georgia King
The Neon Bible Mae Morgan
1996 Unhook the Stars Mildred 'Millie' Hawks Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
1997 She's So Lovely Miss Jane Green
1998 Paulie Ivy
Hope Floats Ramona Calvert Lone Star Film & Television Award for Best Supporting Actress
The Mighty Gram
Playing by Heart Hannah
1999 The Weekend Laura Ponti Nominated — Seattle International Film Festival Citation of Excellence for Ensemble Cast Performance
2000 Light Keeps Me Company Herself - interviewee
The Color of Love: Jacey's Story Georgia Porter Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
2001 Wild Iris Minnie Brinn Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
2003 Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There Herself
Hysterical Blindness Virginia Miller Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
2004 Taking Lives Mrs. Asher
The Notebook Allie Calhoun Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
2005 The Skeleton Key Violet Devereaux Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
2006 Paris, je t'aime Gena (segment "Quartier Latin")
2007 Broken English Vivien Wilder-Mann
Persepolis Marjane's grandmother
What If God Were the Sun? Melissa Eisenbloom Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie

References

  1. ^ Dane County Register of Deeds, Madison, Wisconsin.
  2. ^ Assembly, 1927-1935; Senate, 1935-1939. Members of the Wisconsin Legislature 1848 – 1999, Informational Bulletin 99-1, Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, 1999. He was a member of Wisconsin's Progressive Party.
  3. ^ U.S. Census, April 1, 1930, state of Wisconsin, county of Columbia, village of Cambria, enumeration district 3, page 4-B, family 130.
  4. ^ Gena Rowlands Biography (1930?-)
  5. ^ "OPA Directed by Merwyn Rowlands," The Sheboygan Press, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, April 2, 1942, p. 4.
  6. ^ Registrar's Office, University of Wisconsin–Madison.
  7. ^ "Six U.W. Co-eds 'Badger Beauties,'" The Sheboygan Press, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, November 14, 1949, p. 2.
  8. ^ “Who Owns an Improvised Work?”, The John Cassavetes Pages; accessed December 17, 2006
  9. ^ Carney, Ray “On Your Relationship with Criterion”, The John Cassavetes Pages; accessed December 17, 2006

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