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Ellen Burstyn (1932)

Edna Rae Gillooly

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Ellen Burstyn is a leading American actress of film, stage, and television. Burstyn's career began in theatre during the late 1950s, and over the next ten years she appeared in several films and television series before joining the Actors Studio in 1967. Her performance in the 1971 ensemble drama The Last Picture Show earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination and consideration for major film roles. Burstyn received a second Academy Award nomination for her lead performance in The Exorcist , and won the Academy Award for Best Actress the following year for her work in Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore . In 1975, she won a Tony Award for her work in the Broadway production of Same Time, Next Year, and received a Golden Globe Award and a fourth Academy Award nomination for her performance in the 1978 film version. Burstyn has worked consistently in film, television and theatre since, receiving multiple awards and nominations along the way, including an Emmy Award and two more Academy Award nominations for her performances in the films Resurrection and Requiem for a Dream .


 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. She has described her ancestry as "Irish, French, Pennsylvania Dutch, a little Canadian Indian". She was raised Catholic but is now known to practice Sufism. Her parents divorced when she was young. She would later refer to her mother as tough, violent and controlling. She left Detroit's Cass Technical High School without graduating and also left home on December 7, 1950, the day she turned 18 years old.

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 . 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.

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, The Virginian, 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 1977, she was a member of the jury at the 27th Berlin International Film Festival and in 1988, she was a member of the jury for the 38th Berlin International Film Festival.

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 an Episcopalian bishop in the controversial NBC comedy-drama series The Book of Daniel; although eight episodes were 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.

Burstyn starred in the Broadway production of Martin Tahse's Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, based upon the novel of the same title by Allan Gurganus. The show opened and closed on November 17, 2003. 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 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.

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

 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.

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 broke into her house and raped her, but no charges were filed, as spousal rape was not yet legally a crime. He committed suicide in 1978, upon which his parents sent Burstyn a telegram stating "Congratulations, you've won another Oscar; Neil killed himself".

Burstyn affiliates herself to all religious faiths as she explains: "I am a spirit opening to the truth that lives in all of these religions”.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Ellen Burstyn", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.