Ellen Burstyn

Ellen Burstyn

Her role as Linda Blair's possessed character in 'The Exorcist'

Background:

"I've wanted an Oscar since I was seven years old. It is the basis of all my
secret fantasies." Ellen Burstyn.

Irish-American actress Ellen Burstyn won Best Actress Oscar for portraying the
title role of a newly widowed woman who hopes to fulfill a lifelong dream of
becoming a singer, in Martin Scorsese’s delightfully bittersweet drama Alice
Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974). Burstyn, who received her first Oscar
nomination while acting in The Last Picture Show (1971), continued to collect
more Oscar nominations for starring in The Exorcist (1973), Same Time, Next Year
(1978; Burstyn also won a Tony when she starred in its Broadway play version in
1975), Resurrection (1980), and Requiem for a Dream (2000). She is currently
starring in the newly-running comedy series "The Book of Daniel" and will play
major roles in the upcoming films: The Fountain, The Cool Season, 30 Days, and
The Wicker Man.

A respected member of both the film and theater community, Burstyn served as the
first female president of the Actor’s Equity Association from 1982 to 1985.
Burstyn, who was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 1997, was
named co-president of The Actor's Studio in 2000, along with Al Pacino and
Harvey Keitel. 5' 7" Burstyn was also voted as one of People Magazine’s “The 50
Most Beautiful People in the World (May 2001). She has been married three times
and her past relationship was linked to director William Friedkin (worked
together on The Exorcist; Burstyn claimed they had an affair in 1976).


Sufism Ellen

Childhood and Family:

Edna Rae Gilhooley, who would later be famous as Ellen Burstyn, was born on
December 7, 1932, in Detroit, Michigan. She is the daughter of John Austin
Gillooly (building contractor) and Correine Gillooly, and has one brother. After
graduating from Cass Technical High School, Detroit, Michigan, Ellen signed up
with Actors Studio, New York, New York, and later enrolled at Directing Workshop
for Women, American Film Institute, Los Angeles, California. She also received
honorary doctorate of fine arts in 1983 from New York City’s School of Visual
Arts, New York.

In 1950, Ellen Burstyn married poet William C Alexander, but they divorced five
years later. She then tied the knot with director Paul Roberts in 1957, but
their marriage only lasted for two years. In 1960, Ellen Burstyn exchanged
wedding vows with actor Neil Burstyn, but this marriage also ended in divorce in
1971. Ellen has one adopted son, Jefferson Burstyn (born in 1962) and has a
granddaughter, Emily.

Ellen is a vegetarian, doesn’t drink alcohol or coffee and practices Yoga. She
practices the mystical Islamic religion, Sufism, and is an ordained cherago
(minister) in the Sufi Order in the West.


Requiem for a Dream

Career:

"Acting feels like a congenial condition to me - it's in my genes." Ellen
Burstyn.

Teenage Ellen Burstyn studying dancing and performed in an acrobatic troupe. At
age 18 years old, she left home to work as a model for paperback book covers and
dancing in a Montreal nightclub under the name "Keri Flynn." In 1954, billed as
Erica Dean, Burstyn appeared as regular dancer Gleason Girl on CBS’ “Jackie
Gleason Show,” and made her Broadway debut in Fair Game in 1957, with a new
stage name "Ellen McRae." She also played a female lead role opposite Frank
Aletter on NBC comedy series pilot The Big Brain (1963) and made her
feature-acting debut in Vincente Minnelli's adaptation of George Axelrod's play,
the romantic comedy Goodbye Charlie (1964, alongside Debbie Reynolds).

Following her big screen debut, Burstyn moved to the Big Apple and more acting
jobs rolled in. She was cast in Leslie H. Martinson's comedy For Those Who Think
Young (1964), played Doctor Kate Bartok (1964-1965) on NBC daytime drama "The
Doctors" and costarred as Julie Parsons (1966-1967), a freight line operator, on
ABC’s railroad-themed, Western drama series "Iron Horse" (starring Dale
Robertson). She joined the Actors Studio in 1967 and then costarred with Brian
Donlevy and Richard Davalos in writer-director Jack Hill's racecar movie, The
Winner, in 1969.

Burstyn costarred with Rip Torn in director Joseph Strick's screen version of
Henry Miller's widely banned novel of 1934 about blatantly promiscuous
expatriates in '30s Paris, Tropic of Cancer (1970), before changing her stage
name into Ellen Burstyn and portraying Donald Sutherland’s wife in
writer-director Paul Mazursky's semi autobiographical film, Alex in Wonderland
(1970). The next year, Burstyn played broke the Hollywood scene with her
Oscar-nominated role (for Best Supporting Actress) of Lois Farrow, the mother of
Cybill Shepherd's character, in Peter Bogdanovich's acclaimed adaptation of
Larry McMurtry's bittersweet novel, the coming-of-age tale The Last Picture Show
(1971, with Timothy Bottoms and Jeff Bridges).

After giving a memorably stirring performance as Bruce Dern's beautiful
girlfriend Sally in Bob Rafelson's dark drama The King of Marvin Gardens (1972,
alongside Jack Nicholson), Burstyn starred as Chris MacNeil, the mother of Linda
Blair's possessed character, in William Friedkin's deeply horrifying
masterpiece, based on an enormously popular novel by William Peter Blatty, The
Exorcist (1973). The film, which enjoyed marvelous commercial and critical
accomplishment, presented Burstyn second Oscar nomination, this time for Best
Actress. The then-relatively unknown director Martin Scorsese subsequently asked
Burstyn to portray the title role of a newly widowed woman who hopes to fulfill
a lifelong dream of becoming a singer, in the delightfully bittersweet drama
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974, opposite Kris Kristofferson’ Burstyn also
produced). Burstyn’s flat-out, marvelous performance in the film won her an
Oscar and a BAFTA Award for Best Actress.

In 1975, Ellen Burstyn won a Tony Award after starring as Doris, along with
Charles Grodin, in Bernard Slade's two-character Broadway play, "Same Time, Next
Year." Burstyn later reprised her role in its 1978 film version, directed by
Robert Mulligan, in which Burstyn starred opposite Alan Alda, playing two people
who find long, enduring love with each other despite being married to other
people. Burstyn’s soaring performance earned her fourth Oscar nomination (for
Best Actress). For delivering a tour-de-force performance as paralyzed and
widowed Edna Mae McCauley, in Daniel Petrie's unforgettable story of love and
devotion, Resurrection (1980, alongside Sam Shepard), Burstyn earned another
Oscar nomination. She also made her stage-directing debut for the play
“Judgment.”

TV viewers watched Burstyn hosted the NBC’s "Saturday Night Live" show in
December of 1980. She earned an Emmy nomination for playing the titular role of
Jean Harris, who was accused of killing her lover, Dr. Herman Tarnower, author
of "The Scarsdale Diet," on NBC’s fact-based movie directed by George Schaefer,
The People vs. Jean Harris (1981). In 1985, Burstyn starred as the mother of
Zach Galligan's golden boy character on ABC’s movie Surviving (with Marsha
Mason) and played the Canadian mother of a vanished college student on CBS’
chilling fact-based movie Into Thin Air. She then played Charles Bronson's
urging wife on HBO’s fact-based story about the corruption that occurred during
the United Mine Workers' 1969 presidential elections, Act of Vengeance (1986),
based on Trevor Armbrister's book. From 1986 to 1987, Burstyn starred in her own
comedy series on ABC, "The Ellen Burstyn Show."

In the rest of 1980s, Burstyn scored second Emmy nomination for starring on CBS
TV-movie adaptation of Hugh Whitmore's hit play, Pack of Lies (1987) and
succeeded Pauline Collins as the titular heroine in the one-person show "Shirley
Valentine" (1989). She then entered the new decade with playing the title role
of woman on the run from authorities with her grandchild on CBS’ drama movie
Mrs. Lambert Remembers Love (1991) and acted in the short-lived Broadway
production "Shimada" (1992) before was featured TNT’s adaptation of Kate
Chopin's novel "The Awakening," Grand Isle (1991). Back on the silver screen,
Burstyn teamed with Olympia Dukakis and Diane Ladd playing three Pittsburgh
widows in Bill Duke's comedy, inspired by Ivan Menchell's play, The Cemetery
Club (1993), and played Winona Ryder's grandmother in Jocelyn Moorhouse's tales
of true love, betrayal, joy and heartbreak, adapted from Whitney Otto's novel,
How to Make an American Quilt (1995, also with Anne Bancroft).

On Broadway, Burstyn starred as Sister Grace in "Sacrilege." She subsequently
played the indomitable owner of restaurant Spitfire Grill (1996, alongside
Alison Elliott), in writer-director Lee David Zlotoff's film with the same name,
and was featured as Mildred, mother of an AIDS-infected son, in writer-director
Willard Carroll's ensemble comedy-drama Playing by Heart (1998, with Gillian
Anderson, Sean Connery, Anthony Edwards and Angelina Jolie). On television,
Burstyn played the mysterious subject of a town legend in Stephen Gyllenhaal-helmed
drama film based on Ann Patchett's novel, The Patron Saint of Liars (1998,
alongside Dana Delany), and costarred as the matriarch of a troubled family in
Glenn Jordan-directed drama adapted from Barbara Esstman's novel, Night Ride
Home (1999, with Rebecca De Mornay, both on CBS). Film director Arthur Allan
Seidelman later offered Burstyn to star as an elderly, strong-willed, religious
Southern widow who befriends Jonathan Taylor Thomas’ orphaned juvenile
delinquent character, in his adaptation on Clyde Edgerton's novel, Walking
Across Egypt (1999).

Burstyn graced the new millennium with a regular role of Dolly DeLucca, the
meddling mother of Heather Paige Kent’s central character, on the drama comedy
series "That's Life" (2000-2002) and was featured in James Gray's independent
drama The Yards (starring Mark Wahlberg). She also received another Best Actress
Oscar nomination for portraying Sara Goldfarb, a lonely and plump TV-obsessed
widow who started on a dangerous diet regimen to beautify herself for appearing
in a national TV game show, in Darren Aronofsky's adaptation of Hubert Selby
Jr.'s novel, Requiem for a Dream (2000). After playing Sandra Bullock's loving,
but highly dramatic and eccentric mother, elder Viviane Joan 'Vivi' Abbott
Walker, in Callie Khouri's take on Rebecca Wells' novels, Divine Secrets of the
Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002), Burstyn star on CBS true-story based movie The Madam's
Family: The Truth About the Canal Street Brothel (2004, with Annabella Sciorra)
and on ABC's adaptation on Mitch Albom's best-selling novel of the same name,
The Five People You Meet in Heaven (2004, starring Jon Voight).

2005 saw Burstyn was cast in writer-director David Jacobson's romantic Western
movie Down in the Valley (opposite Edward Norton and Bruce Dern) and in
Showtime's Our Fathers, an adaptation of David France's epic book about the sex
scandals in the Roman Catholic Church. She was also seen in writer-director
Phyllis Nagy's Mrs. Harris (with John Patrick Amedori and Annette Bening) and
Jamal Joseph's Cross the Line. Currently, Burstyn is starring alongside Aidan
Quinn in the newly released comedy series "The Book of Daniel." She will star
opposite Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz in writer-director Darren Aronofsky's
epic odyssey The Fountain and writer-director Seth Grossman's drama The Cool
Season. Filmmaker Jamal Joseph is now directing Burstyn in his upcoming
basketball drama 30 Days and director Neil LaBute is currently directing her in
his forthcoming film, The Wicker Man (Burstyn will costar with Nicolas Cage).

“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.” Ellen Burstyn.


Awards:

Online Film Critics Society: Best Actress, Requiem For A Dream, 2001
Independent Spirit: Best Female Lead, Requiem For A Dream, 2001
Kansas City Film Critics Circle: Best Actress, Requiem For A Dream, 2001
Chicago Film Critics Association: Best Actress, Requiem For A Dream,
2001
Southeastern Film Critics Association: Best Actress, Requiem For A
Dream, 2001
Stockholm Film Festival: Best Actress, Requiem For A Dream, 2000
Golden Satellite: Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Requiem for a Dream,
2000
National Board of Review: Career Achievement, 2000
Boston Film Festival: Film Excellence Award, 2000
Golden Globe: Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Same Time, Next Year,
1978
Tony: Best Actress in a Play, "Same Time, Next Year," 1975
BAFTA: Best Actress, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, 1975
Academy Awards: Best Actress, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, 1974
New York Film Critics: Best Supporting actress, The Last Picture Show,
1971
National Film Society of Film Critics: Best Supporting actress, The Last
Picture Show, 1971
It's a sin to have your films not to make money.More Ellen Burstyn quotes [12/26/2006 12:12:00]
When you recognize what your talents are, a happy life is developing them to the greatest extent you can.More Ellen Burstyn quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
I did my famous cabbage soup diet, so I was able to do it.More Ellen Burstyn quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
But I was always uncomfortable in that. Physically uncomfortable. Either from the fat suit, or the neck, or my severe dieting. Or wearing the camera.More Ellen Burstyn quotes [12/26/2006 12:12:00]
Well, I try not to allow regret to live in me because I think it festers, and that's one way to become bitter and cynical - to clutch at you regrets and to carry them around like a wilted bouquet.More Ellen Burstyn quotes [12/26/2006 12:12:00]

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