ELLEN BURSTYN Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Ellen Burstyn                                                                     
Birth name: Edna Rae Gillooly                                                           
Born: 7 December 1932 Detroit, Michigan, U.S.                                           
Ellen Burstyn (born December 7, 1932) is an Academy Award-winning American               
Burstyn was born Edna Rae Gillooly in Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of                 
Correine Marie (née Hamel) and John Austin Gillooly, a building contractor.             
She was raised Catholic. Because her parents divorced when she was young,               
Burstyn says she only remembers seeing her father one time when she was away at         
boarding school.  At 19 years old, Burstyn says she sought out                           
her father, hoping to establish a relationship with him. "I arrived on his               
doorstep and … he didn't consider me a daughter, he considered me a hot babe. So       
that ended that relationship," she said.  "What happens is that                         
you go on trying to look for a father all of your life until the day comes when         
you realize I have to father myself." She referred to her mother as tough,               
violent and controlling. In 1960, after two failed marriages, Ellen fell in love         
with actor Neil Burstyn.  Ellen said he was charming, funny,                             
bright, talented and eccentric. Then he degenerated into mental illness and             
became schizophrenic and violent.  Neil left Ellen just before                           
she became one the most celebrated actresses of the 1970s and '80s, with five           
Oscar nominations and one win in 10 years. "Then he wanted to come back," she           
says.  "By then I had discovered how pleasant life was without a                         
crazy husband and I didn't want him to come back. In her biography "Lessons in           
Becoming Myself", Burstyn revealed that she was stalked over a period of 10             
years by her third husband whom she divorced. This included a violent incident           
of rape that went unpunished, as the police said that because the perpetrator           
was her husband "no crime was committed." Ultimately he committed suicide, upon         
which his parents sent Burstyn a telegram stating "Congratulations, you've won           
another Oscar; Neil killed himself".                                                     
Burstyn debuted on Broadway in 1957 and, in 1975, won a Tony Award for Best             
Actress in a Play for her performance in Same Time, Next Year (a role she would         
reprise in the film version, three years later). In 1990 she won the Sarah               
Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre. Until 1970, she was credited as "Ellen   
McRae" in nearly all her film and TV appearances.                                       
Burstyn won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1974 for her performance in           
the movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. She received her first Oscar                 
nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 1971 for the film The Last Picture             
Show, and was subsequently nominated for Best Actress in 1973 for the horror             
movie The Exorcist, in 1978 for Same Time, Next Year, in 1980 for Resurrection,         
and for Requiem for a Dream in 2000.                                                     
She worked on several television shows of the 1960s, including guest appearances         
on Perry Mason, Maverick, Wagon Train, 77 Sunset Strip, The Big Valley and               
Gunsmoke. She hosted Saturday Night Live in 1980. In 1986, she had her own ABC           
sitcom, The Ellen Burstyn Show costarring Megan Mullally as her daughter and             
Elaine Stritch as her mother. It was cancelled after one season. From 2000 to           
2002, Burstyn appeared in the CBS television drama That's Life. In 2006, she             
starred as a bishop in the controversial NBC comedy-drama The Book of Daniel.           
Burstyn's most recent film appearance was in The Fountain, directed by Darren           
Aronofsky, with whom she worked in Requiem for a Dream. She also appeared on a           
2007 episode of the HBO series Big Love, playing the mother of Polygamist wife           
Barbara Henrickson.