Ellen Burstyn biography

Ellen Burstyn

Birth Name: Edna Rae Gillooly

Date of Birth: December 7, 1932

Award-winning actress Ellen Burstyn was born in Detroit, Michigan and dropped out of high school to seek fame and fortune. Her career began in Texas where she started modeling. Then she moved to New York where she was a showgirl for the Jackie Gleason Television show. At 25, Burstyn made her Broadway debut in Fair Game.

By 1963 she had gained considerable experience in the entertainment world, but she had yet to tackle film. A regular role on the series The Doctors gave her valuable notice and eventually led to her landing the role of Franny in the feature film Goodbye Charlie.

Rather than plow forward with small roles in mediocre films, Burstyn decided to hone her craft under the tutelage of Lee Strasberg at the famed Actors Studio. It paid off when she landed a breakthrough role in The Last Picture Show. Burstyn earned both a Golden Globe and Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.

She tackled a variety of roles, and worked with some of the biggest stars, including Jack Nicholson in The King of Marvin Gardens, but it was her role in The Exorcist that made her part of film history. Hailed as the scariest movie ever made, it was also richly awarded. Burstyn was once again nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award. It wasn't until 1974 though that she finally took home a statuette, her role as a waitress in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore gave Burstyn the Best Actress Oscar. She also won a BAFTA and was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in Alice. It was a big year for the actress, she also took home a Tony for her role in the Broadway play Same Time, Next Year. It was only the second time in history that an actress had won both coveted awards (Oscar and Tony) in one year.

Even though she was a critically acclaimed and award-winning actress, she struggled to find good roles throughout the 80s. A lack of work prompted her to take on a number of TV movies (she won Emmy awards for two of her TV movie performances) and then tackled her own short-lived series, entitled The Ellen Burstyn Show, in 1986.

The 90s proved to be a busier decade for the actress, she landed small roles in well-received films, including The Spitfire Grill (1996), which won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival the year it was released. All of this success in her job however did not filter to her private life. Burstyn has had three relatively short-lived marriages, the last of which produced her only child, a son.

Currently the actress is writing a screenplay in which the central character is an actress. "It's kind of about the synergy that I have always noticed occurring in my life, where some central issue I'm working on is reflected in the role I'm playing," she explains. Burstyn has enjoyed a busy few years, acting alongside Mark Whalberg in The Yards (2000), Sandra Bullock in Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002), Edward Norton in Down in the Valley (2004) and Nicolas Cage in The Wicker Man (2006). Most recently, she starred in Draft Day (2014) and Interstellar (2014).

Burstyn continues to win awards for her work, most recently for her starring role in the Canadian film The Stone Angel (2008), winning a Best Actress Genie Award.


Draft Day(2014)
Love, Marilyn(2013)
Another Happy Day(2011)
The Mighty Macs(2011)
Lovely, Still(2010)
Main Street (2009)
Our Lady of Victory (2009)
Greta (2008)
The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond(2008)
Lovely, Still(2009)
The Stone Angel(2008)
The Fountain(2006)
The Wicker Man(2006)
30 Days (2006)
The Elephant King (2006)
Down in the Valley (2005)
Red Dragon (2002) (voice) (uncredited)
Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood(2002)
Walking Across Egypt (2000)
Requiem For A Dream(2000)
The Yards(2000)
You Can Thank Me Later(1998)
Playing By Heart(1998)
Deceiver (1997)
The Spitfire Grill (1996)
How to Make An American Quilt (1995)
The Baby-Sitters Club (1995)
The Color of Evening (1994)
When a Man Loves a Woman (1994)
The Cemetery Club(1993)
Dying Young (1991)
Grand Isle (1991)
Hanna's War (1988)
Twice in a Lifetime (1985)
The Ambassador(1984)
Silence of the North (1981)
Resurrection (1980)
A Dream of Passion (1978)
Same Time, Next Year (1978)
Providence (1977)
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)
Harry and Tonto(1974)
The Exorcist(1973)
The King of Marvin Gardens(1972)
The Last Picture Show(1971)
Alex in Wonderland (1970)
Tropic of Cancer(1970)
Pit Stop (1969)
For Those Who Think Young(1964)
Goodbye Charlie (1964)

Ellen Burstyn Photo