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Shirley MacLaine was reportedly named after Shirley Temple, who was only 6 years old when MacLaine was born (her birthday is one day after Temple's), but was already a big star. Aside from the fact that both are (or were, in Temple's case) dancers and actresses, however, that's pretty much where the resemblance ends.
Where Shirley Temple was cute and non-controversial, and grew up to be a Republican, Shirley MacLaine has spoken out on the environment, UFOs, reincarnation, animal rights, dreams, and other issues both spiritual and political, all while maintaining her famous sense of humor.
Born Shirley Beaty (sister to the equally-famous Warren Beatty) on April 24, 1934, in Richmond, Virginia. Her mother Kathlyn was a drama teacher, her father Ira was also an educator and, she says, "expanded my horizons with his knowledge of psychology and philosophy."
Shirley got her big break in 1954, when she was a dancer in a Broadway chorus line and was tapped for the lead in The Pajama Game, replacing Carol Haney. The following year she appeared in her first film, Hitchcock's The Trouble With Harry, and that same year nabbed a supporting role in Artists and Models, a Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis film.
A co-starring role with Frank Sinatra in Some Came Running (1958) got her the first of five Oscar nominations. Can-Can (1960), though not well-received by critics, featured her dancing. Then came The Apartment (1960), directed by Billy Wilder and co-starring Jack Lemmon, for which she should have won an Oscar after her second nomination. She paired with Lemmon again in Irma La Douce (1963) and got yet another Oscar nomination. And just to prove she wasn't the ditzy character portrayed in her other standout roles, she co-starred with Audrey Hepburn in 1962 as a lesbian in the drama The Children's Hour.
Later notable films in the decade included The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964), Woman Times Seven (1967, Sweet Charity (1969), and Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970). She took time off from acting to complete a documentary about China called The Other Half of the Sky (1974), and to pursue spiritual interests. She returned to the screen in The Turning Point (1977), resulting in a fourth Oscar nomination, then co-starred with Peter Sllers in Being There (1979), finally winning her Oscar for Terms of Endearment (1983).
In the 80s and beyond, Shirley turned to television, live theater, and nightclubs. More recent films have included Madame Sousatzka (1988), Steel Magnolias (1989), Postcards From the Edge (1990), Defending Your Life (1991), Used People (1992), Wrestling Ernest Hemingway (1993), Guarding Tess (1994), These Old Broads (2001-TV), and Carolina (2002). Shirley has also authored a series of books, including Don't Fall Off the Mountain (1970) and Out on a Limb (1983).
MacLaine's daughter, Sachi Parker, is an actress who appeared in a number of films in the late 80s and early 90s.
Part I: Introduction
Part III: Movie Reviews & Where to Find Her Movies
Part IV: Books, Photos, and Posters
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