Martha Coolidge biography
Material Girls Director
Date of Birth: August 17, 1946
Related to Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States, Martha Coolidge was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. In her youth, she acted with a group called The Blackfriars, then began studying filmmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design. She subsequently moved to New York to continue her studies at the New York University Institute of Film and Television graduate school. Coolidge began by making short films and documentaries.
Her debut feature film, Valley Girl (1983), was a hit starring Nicolas Cage in his first major film role. She then directed Val Kilmer in his second feature, Real Genius (1995), for which Coolidge won the Grand Prix award at the Paris Film Festival. In 1992 she won a Crystal award from the Women in Film Awards as well as an Independent Spirit Award for her direction of Rambling Rose (1991), starring Laura Dern and Robert Duvall.
Coolidge garnered a Directors Guild nomination and an Emmy nomination for her direction of the award-winning HBO TV movie Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999), starring Halle Berry in the title role.
In 2002, she made history when she was elected by her peers to become the first woman president of the Directors Guild of America in its 66-year history. She is also the recipient of the DGA's top award, the Robert B. Aldrich Award.
After working exclusively in television for several years, Coolidge returned to the big screen following a seven-year absence with The Prince & Me (2004), starring Julia Stiles and filmed on location in Toronto and Prague.
An avid horsewoman, Coolidge breeds Paso Fino horses. She lives in Los Angeles with her son, Preston, from her marriage to Michael Backes.