Hollywood actress Sissy Spacek (born Mary Elizabeth Spacek) is an international
star who has received a great deal of acknowledgment for her acting,
particularly for her portrayal of Ruth Fowler in Todd Field’s award-winning In
the Bedroom (2001). Through her outstanding performance, Spacek harvested many
awards, including a Golden Globe Award, an AFI Award and a Special Jury Prize
from the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. Additionally, she received an Oscar, a
Screen Actors Guild and a BAFTA nomination.
Her triumphant journey in acting began with the titular role in Carrie (1976),
which gave her a National Society of Film Critics Award and an Oscar nomination.
She then took home a New York Film Critics Circle Award for her turn as Pinky
Rose in the Robert Altman-directed/written 3 Women (1977), before achieving
massive success with her turn as singer Loretta Lynn in the biopic Coal Miner’s
Daughter (1980, won five awards including an Academy Award). Spacek also
presented exceptional performances in the roles of Rebeca Magrath Botrelle in
Crimes of the Heart (1986, collected a Golden Globe Award and a New York Film
Critics Circle Award, as well as an Oscar nomination) and Lorena Parker in the
miniseries “Streets of Laredo” (1995, gave her a Bronze Wrangler from the 1996
Western Heritage awards). A six-time Oscar nominee, the actress was also praised
after taking part in the drama thriller Missing (1982) and Mark Rydell’s drama
The River (1984). Spacek was also handed a Film Excellence award from the 2001
Boston Film Festival.
Outside the spotlight, Spacek is one of the twelve “Promising New Actors of
1976,” according to the 28th volume of John Willis’ Screen World. The woman,
with measurements 34B-24-35 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine), also displayed
her interest in singing by performing with a choir for the song “Voices That
Care,” as well as releasing a country LP titled Hangin’ Up My Heart (1983).
Spacek currently lives on a 210-acre horse ranch called “Beau Val” in
Charlottesville, Virginia, with her husband Jack Fisk and her two daughters.
Childhood and Family:
The youngest of three, Sissy Spacek was born Mary Elizabeth Spacek on December
25, 1949, in Quitman, Texas, to Virginia (died in 1981) and Edwin Spacek (died
on January 7, 2001). She is also the cousin of actor Rip Torn (born Elmore Rual
Torn Jr., on February 6, 1931). Her brothers called her “Sissy,” a nickname that
eventually became her luck charm in the movie business.
Displaying an early knack for performing, Sissy appeared on stage when she was
six years old, singing and tap-dancing in a local talent show. Soon after
graduating from Quitman High School, Sissy headed to New York to become a
professional singer, during which she was billed as “Rainbo.” Things did not
work out as planned and she decided to study acting at the prestigious Lee
Strasberg Institute, and worked in Andy Warhol’s factory as a photographic model
and an extra.
Sissy first met his husband, art director Jack Fisk (born on December 19, 1945),
on the set of her movie Badlands (1973). In 1974, the couple married and are the
parents of two daughters, Schuyler Elizabeth Fisk (actress, born in 1982) and
Virginia Madison Fisk (born in 1988).
Coal Miner’s Daughter
In New York, after performing in coffeehouses and doing background vocals for
commercials, Sissy Spacek recorded the single “Johnny, You Went Too Far This
Time” (1968), using the name “Rainbo.” The track was a failure and she was soon
dropped from her record company. Spacek, who at the time lived with her cousin
Rip Torn and his wife, agreed to her cousin’s suggestion of giving acting a try.
Her initial gig on screen was an unaccredited role in Andy Warhol’s Trash
(1970). Eventually she hooked with an agent and was seen as Poppy in the action
drama Prime Cut (1972). After appearing in an episode of “Love, American Style”
(1973) and playing Sara in the TV drama The Girls of Huntington House (1973),
the rookie quickly gained notice with her starring turn as naïve Holly Sargis in
Badlands (1973), a role that earned her a BAFTA nomination for Best Newcomer.
Spacek joined the crew of Phantom of the Paradise (1974) and tried working as a
set decorator. As a screen actress, she acquired title roles in several movies,
like the romantic comedy Ginger in the Morning (1974, also performed the songs),
the TV drama Katherine (1975, as a wealthy debutante) and the adaptation of
Stephen King’s novel Carrie (1976). For her strong performance in Carrie, she
netted a National Society of Film Critics for Best Actress and received an Oscar
nomination for Best Actress.
Spacek next won a New York Film Critics Circle for Best Supporting Actress for
her captivating role of shy, reclusive Pinky Rose in the Robert
Altman-directed/written 3 Women (1977). She then worked as a set decorator in
Death Game (1977) and was seen in the made-for-TV musical drama Verna: USO Girl
Next receiving the titular turn of country and western singer Loretta Lynn in
the biopic Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980), Spacek reaped critical acclaim and such
prominent awards as an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a National Board of Review, a
National Society of Film Critics and a Los Angeles Film Critics Association for
Best Actress. For the same role, she also received a BAFTA nomination.
Interestingly, the performer also sang the songs for the movie and accepted a
Grammy nomination for the miscellaneous work.
Following the successful film, the actress presented award-nominating parts as
Nita Longley, a single mom of two, in Raggedy Man (1981) and Beth Horman in the
award-winning drama thriller Missing (1982, gained an Oscar and BAFTA
nomination). After lending her voice for Anne Uumellmahaye, the brain of Steve
Martin’s character, in The Man with Two Brains (1983, unaccredited), Spacek
received her fourth Oscar nomination for her starring role of Mae Garvey in Mark
Rydell’s drama The River (1984, also earned a Golden Globe nomination).
Subsequent to her scene-stealing character in the screen adaptation of Peter
Maas’ book Marie (1985), Spacek again gained attention as Rebeca Magrath
Botrelle in the drama comedy Crimes of the Heart (1986). Thanks to her
performance in the latter film, the performer received a Golden Globe and a New
York Film Critics Circle for Best Actress, as well as brought home her fifth
Subsequent to her four-year break from acting, Spacek reappeared on the big
screen by costarring as Miriam Thompson, alongside Whoopi Goldberg, in the civil
rights drama The Long Walk Home (1990). She was also seen in Oliver Stone’s JFK
(1991) and the drama A Private Matter (1992, TV), before receiving rave reviews
for her supporting part as Spring Renfro in the western movie The Good Old Boys
(1995, received an Emmy nomination).
Starring as Lorena Parker in the western miniseries “Streets of Laredo” (1995),
Spacek was handed a Bronze Wrangler from the 1996 Western Heritage awards. In
addition, she played Barbara Barrows in If These Walls Could Talk (1996, TV,
directed by Cher and Nancy Savoca), had the supporting role of Margie Fogg in
the adaptation of Russell Banks’ novel Affliction (1997), starred as Rose
‘Rosie’ Straight in David Lynch’s biopic The Straight Story (1999, received a
Golden Globe nomination) and acted opposite Beau Bridges in Songs in Ordinary
Time (2000, TV).
The veteran actress rose to the peak of her acting career when director Todd
Field chose her to play Ruth Fowler in his award-winning film In the Bedroom
(2001). For her superb portrayal, Spacek received numerous awards, including a
Golden Globe and an AFI for Best Actress, and a Special Jury Prize from the 2001
Sundance Film Festival. She was also nominated for an Oscar, a Screen Actors
Guild and a BAFTA for Best Actress. The recipient of a Film Excellence award
from the 2001 Boston Film Festival was next seen as Sibyl Danforth in the TV
film Midwives (2001, received a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild
nomination), Zelda Fitzgerald in the TV drama Last Call (2002, received an Emmy
nomination), Alice Glover in A Home at the End of the World (2004) and Mrs.
Flora Good in the Scott Mactavish-helmed/written Summer Running: The Race to
Cure Breast Cancer (2005).
Recently, Spacek costarred opposite Donald Sutherland in Courtney Solomon’s
horror An American Haunting (2006). She will also appear as Sara in the
star-studded movie Gray Matters (2007), along with Heather Graham, Thomas
Cavanagh, Bridget Moynahan and Alan Cumming.
AFI: AFI Actor of the Year - Female - Movies, In The Bedroom, 2002
Broadcast Film Critics Association: Best Actress, In The Bedroom, 2002
Dallas-Forth Worth Film Critics Association: Best Actress, In The
Florida Film Critics Circle: Best Actress, In The Bedroom, 2002
Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture -
Drama, In The Bedroom, 2002
Golden Satellite: Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture,
Drama, In The Bedroom, 2002
Independent Spirit: Best Female Lead, In The Bedroom, 2002
Vancouver Film Critics Circle: Best Actress, In The Bedroom, 2002
Los Angeles Film Critics Association: Best Actress, In The Bedroom, 2001
New York Film Critics Circle: Best Actress, In The Bedroom, 2001
Southeastern Film Critics Association: Best Actress, In The Bedroom,
Sundance Film Festival: Special Jury Prize - Dramatic, In The Bedroom,
Boston Film Festival: Film Excellence Award, 2001
Western Heritage: Bronze Wrangler - Television Feature Film, Streets Of
Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture -
Comedy/Musical, Crimes Of The Heart, 1987
New York Film Critics Circle: Best Actress, Crimes Of The Heart, 1986
Oscar: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Coal Miner’s Daughter, 1981
Golden Globe: Best Motion Picture Actress - Musical/Comedy, Coal Miner’s
National Society of Film Critics: Best Actress, Coal Miner’s Daughter,
Los Angeles Film Critics Association: Best Actress, Coal Miner’s
National Board of Review: Best Actress, Coal Miner’s Daughter, 1980
New York Film Critics Circle: Best Actress, Coal Miner’s Daughter, 1980
New York Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actress, Three Women, 1977
National Society of Film Critics: Best Actress, Carrie, 1977