Okay, I know he’s been in the news lately for criticizing Governor Arnold Shwarzenegger of California and from the looks of it, he might even throw his hat into the political ring and make a run for the governorship himself but I’m going to try my best to stick to his career in acting and let the chips fall where they may.
Henry Warren Beatty was born in on March 30, 1937 in the town of Richmond, Virginia. I guess one could say that acting was in his blood from the beginning and it wasn’t long before he and his equally famous sister, Shirley Maclaine, began taking lessons from their mother who was, of all things, a drama coach.
After graduating from high school, Beatty left his home town and headed up north to attend Northwestern University but got bitten by the acting bug soon after his sister started making a name for herself on Broadway. He dropped out in order to pursue his acting career and was soon taken under the wing of Stella Adler, a famous acting coach.
His debut wasn’t all that auspicious. Rather than landing on Broadway or the silver screen, Beatty’s first role was in the television sitcom called ”The Many Love of Dobie Gillis”. He would later deem the role a farce and he packed his bags and head for the neon lights of Broadway.
It wasn’t long before the talent scouts saw they had a star in the making and Beatty was soon nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in a play called ”A Loss of Roses.”
Soon afterwards, Beatty abandoned the small stage for the glamour of Hollywood and in 1961 landed his first major role in ”Splendor in the Grass”. Although not embraced by the critics, the role was enough to get him noticed by legendary director Arthur Penn who cast him in a crime drama called ”Mickey One”. While not a box office smash, it was a critical success and would help catapult Beatty into his next role and start off his reputation as a “ladies man”.
The film was called Promise Her Anything and it starred Beatty alongside one of the real lookers of the day by the name of Leslie Caron. Beatty must have promised her an awful lot because a full blown love affair broke out between the two that was later cited in Caron’s divorce proceedings.
Beatty’s next film saw him paired up once again with Arthur Penn and they went on to make the classic Bonnie and Clyde. Playing Clyde Barrow opposite Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker, the film attracted a huge audience for its strong performances and graphic scenes of violence. It you haven’t seen it, it would be worth your time. It also put Beatty right in the middle of the radar screen and he had finally hit the big time.
During the next decade or so, Beatty found himself both in front of and behind the camera. Some of his more important films of the time included the critically acclaimed McCabe and Mrs. Miller, a sort of anti-western western, a comment on the times that brought us the screen debut of Goldie Hawn called Shampoo, a takeoff of Hollywood itself called Heaven Can Wait and his most famous film to date called Reds which landed him his first Oscar for Best Director.
To say that the go-go eighties brought a slump to his career would be an understatement. After taking some time off, Beatty returned with the film that has often been called the most expensive flop in film history. It starred Beatty and Dustin Hoffman and was called Ishtar and I think the both of them are still trying to wash the stink of that film off them twenty years later.
Beatty went to the comic strips for his next inspiration and came up with Dick Tracy which was a hit at the box office but didn’t turn the heads of many of the critics. Keeping a crime theme going, he followed that up with a sort of biography of gangster Bugsy Siegel. As I related earlier, Beatty always had a reputation of cavorting and carousing with his female co-stars and the set of Bugsy started out as no exception. He wound up taking up with co-star Anne Bening and wound up finding true love. They remain together to this day and have managed to have four kids of their own along the way.
After a few not so noteworthy films, Beatty made a splash once again when he came out with Bulworth. It’s political satire at its best and when our hero puts out a contract on his own life to expose the underbelly of what has become politics the statement can hardly be missed. Besides having a political message, the film offers up some great eye candy in the form of Halle Berry, Beatty’s love interest in the movie.
Since then, I don’t believe Beatty has done much of anything of note. Maybe he’s trying to stay out of the limelight
in order to make his projected bid for the governorship of California more credible or maybe, as he nears the age of seventy, he’s just slowing down some. After all, he’s been a busy man.
(Now comes the part where you’re supposed be like the Johnny Carson audience and ask “How busy was he?”
Well, how’s this for a list of rumored and not so rumored lovers and paramours?
That my friends, is what is known in the business, as quite a cast. Maybe legendary director Robert Altman can get them all together in one his ensemble type films in tribute to Beatty and his work over the years.