Ellen Burstyn biography
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.
Ellen Burstyn Filmography