I always think of her fondly, no matter how idiotic I might find the psychic hoo-haa-rama-lama-ding-dongery with which she has tainted herself. This is because of two films, both co-starring with Jack Lemmon: "The Apartment" and "Irma la Douce". I think that both of these fims were directed by Billy Wilder. Her portrayal of Debbie Reynolds in the film of Carrie Fisher's "Postcards From The Edge" has just appeared in memory as well.

I've made so many movies playing a hooker that they don't pay me in the regular way anymore. They leave it on the dresser. – Shirley Maclaine

Singer, dancer, actress, author comedian and time traveler extraordinaire, there’s very little that Shirley Maclaine hasn’t tried over her forty plus years in showbiz. I know some folks out there probably hate her politics but there’s no denying that when it comes to performing, Ms. Maclaine is one of a kind.

An Early Start

I guess in her case, it all starts with the genes. Born in Richmond, Virginia on April 24, 1934, her mother was a former actress/drama coach and her father was a professor of psychology and philosophy. (They would later go on to sire another actor who has made quite a name for himself.). Her mom decided to drop her career and focus on her daughter. At the tender age of two, Shirley was already taking dancing lessons. By the time she hit four, she had already appeared in public. When she turned sixteen, she left Richmond and headed for the bright lights of New York City and Broadway.

Break a leg

Or as in Maclaine’s case, maybe just an ankle will do…

After getting some early work as model and as a chorus girl in a play called Me and Juliet she began understudying for the lead in The Pajama Game when the star of the show, one Carol Haney, broke her ankle. Maclaine filled the role and it wasn’t too long afterwards that she caught the eye of Hollywood producer Hal Wallis.

In 1955 Maclaine made her screen debut in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry. From there she tried her hand at slapstick when teamed up with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in Artists and Models. After that, she played an Indian princess in Around the World in 80 Days.

Breaking from comedy, Maclaine garnered her first Oscar nomination when she starred opposite Frank Sinatra in Some Came Running. After that, she showcased her dancing and singing talents when she starred in the film version of Can-Can.

In 1960, she earned her second Oscar nomination for her role in Billy Wilder’s The Apartment and followed that up with yet another nomination when she starred opposite Jack Lemmon in Irma La Douce.

Throughout the 60’s Shirley Maclaine seemed to be everywhere. There was simply no way to typecast her into a specific role. She went from musicals to drama to comedies to westerns at what seemed like the drop of a hat. It was also during that time that began to dabble in the world of politics. In 1968, she was a member of Robert Kennedy’s campaign staff before his quest for the presidency was cut short at the hands of Sirhan Sirhan. Four years later, she would go one to champion the cause of George McGovern in his failed bid for the presidency against Richard M. Nixon.

So, you want to be a writer?

As the 70’s moved on, Maclaine decided to try her hand at writing. Her first book, Don’t Fall Off the Mountain, is autobiography of sorts. It details her career in acting but also provides readers with personal observation that she had made over the course of the years as she traveled the corners of the globe. Over the years, she would publish many others but the one that’s she’s best known for is Out on a Limb. At the risk of sounding like some kind of nut, the book details her “out of body experiences” and professes her belief in reincarnation. Naturally, she was branded somewhat of a kook both in the press and on late night television. To her credit, over the years, Maclaine has held to her beliefs in the face of some strong criticism.

Back to the movies

The 70’s also saw her starring opposite Peter Sellers in a personal favorite of mine,Being There. If you haven’t seen it, you should. ‘Nuff said. Maclaine finally got her first Academy Award when she won for her performance in Terms of Endearment.

As the 80’s turned to the 90’s and the 90’s to the millennium years, Maclaine’s once familiar face began to vanish from the movie screen. I don’t know if this was by choice or if the roles that were being written just didn’t suit a mature actress. Either way, it’s a shame.

Filmography

Carolina – 2004
The Dress Code – 2000
Joan of Arc – 1999
The Evening Star – 1996
Guarding Tess – 1994
Reincarnation – Coming Back – 1994
Wrestling Ernest Hemingway – 1993
Used People – 1992
Postcards from the Edge1990
Waiting for the Light – 1990
Around the World in 80 Days – 1989
Steel Magnolias – 1989
Madame Sousatzka – 1988
Out on a Limb – 1986
Cannonball Run 2 – 1984
Terms of Endearment – 1983
A Change of Seasons – 1980
Being There – 1979
The Turning Point – 1977
The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir - 1975
The Possession of Joel Delaney – 1972
Desperate Characters – 1971
Two Mules for Sister Sarah – 1969
The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom – 1968
Sweet Charity – 1968
Woman Times Seven – 1967
Gambit – 1966
The Yellow Rolls-Royce – 1965
Irma la Douce – 1963
The Children’s Hour – 1962
My Geisha – 1962
Two for the Seesaw – 1962
The Apartment – 1960
Can-Can – 1960
Ask Any Girl – 1959
Career – 1959
The Matchmaker –1958
Some Came Running – 1958
Around the World in 80 Days – 1956
Artists and Models – 1955
The Trouble With Harry – 1955

Source http://entertainment.msn.com/celebs/celeb.aspx?c=65285&mp=b

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