Shirley Knight Biography

Shirley Knight photo

Born: July 05, 1936
Died: April 22, 2020

Born and raised in Kansas, Shirley Knight showed multiple talents at an early age. By the time she was eight, she sang with an orchestra on radio and placed second (behind her younger sister) in a state-wide talent show. At 14, she wrote a short story which was published in a national magazine. Knight went on to attend Phillips University and Witchita University and trained for the stage with Erwin Piscator and Lee Strasberg.

With dreams of becoming an actress, she went to Hollywood at the age of 20. A year later, she already had her first credit on the television series Matinee Theater. By the early 1960s, she garnered nation wide exposure with Oscar nominations for her supporting role in the films The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1960) and Sweet Bird of Youth (1962).

By mid-decade, Knight was well on her way to becoming a major film star, but she wasn't content with just having money and fame. Knight decided that the only way to become a real actress was to gain experience on the New York stage, and so, she left the film industry to study and work back East. Her Broadway career was successful and in 1966, Knight flew to England to try her luck in British theater.

Also active in television, Knight appeared in numerous mini-series and made-for-television films. She received three Emmy Awards and was nominated eight times, winning for her guest performances in the series thirtysomething and NYPD Blue. For her work in Indictment: The McMartin Trial, she received a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award.

A dedicated mother, Knight spent much of her time caring for her two daughters, Kaitlin from her first marriage (who would become an actress), and Sophie Hopkins (a writer) from her second marriage to British playwright/screenwriter husband John Hopkins, who died in 1998 at age 67 when he slipped, hit his head and fell into their swimming pool.

Knight passed away at the age of 83 in San Marcos, Texas from natural causes.

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