Dec. 7th, 1932
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Ellen Burstyn's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles2015 - The Age of Adaline
2014 - Interstellar
2014 - The Calling
2009 - The Velveteen Rabbit
2008 - W.
2007 - The Stone Angel
2006 - The Wicker Man
2006 - The Elephant King
2006 - The Fountain
2003 - A Decade Under the Influence
2002 - Red Dragon
2002 - Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
2000 - Requiem for a Dream
2000 - The Yards
1999 - Walking Across Egypt
1999 - The Hurricane
1998 - Playing by Heart
1997 - Deceiver
1996 - The Spitfire Grill
1994 - When a Man Loves a Woman
1991 - Dying Young
1988 - Hanna's War
1978 - Same Time, Next Year
1974 - Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
1974 - Harry and Tonto
1973 - The Exorcist
1971 - The Last Picture Show
1970 - Alex in Wonderland
Guest TV Roles
Nancy Davis Dutton
Herself - Guest
Born in Detroit, Ellen Burstyn worked a number of jobs before she became an actress. At 14, she was a short-order cook at a lunch counter. After graduating from Detroit's Cass Technical High School, she went to Texas to model and then to New York as a showgirl on The Jackie Gleason Show (1952). From there, it was to Montreal as a nightclub dancer and then Broadway with her debut in Fair Game (1957). By 1963, she appeared on the TV series The Doctors (1963), but she gained notice for her role in Goodbye Charlie (1964). Burstyn then took time off to study acting with 'Lee Strasberg' at the Actors Studio.
Her big break came when she was cast as the female lead in The Last Picture Show (1971). For this role, she received nominations for the Golden Globe and Academy Award. Next, she co-starred with 'Jack Nicholson' in The King of Marvin Gardens (1972), giving a chilling performance. Then came The Exorcist (1973). Ellen was again nominated for the Golden Globe and Academy Award.
In 1974, she starred in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), playing a waitress, which is a job that she well knows. For this performance, she won the Oscar as Best Actress as well as the British award for the same category. For the Golden Globe, she was nominated but lost to 'Marsha Mason'. The same year, Burstyn made history by winning a Tony Award for the Broadway play "Same Time, Next Year". She won praise and award nominations for the movie version of _Same Time, Next Year (1978) and Resurrection (1980). Resurrection was a another great film in which she played a woman with the power to heal. Even with all these successful movies and all the awards, Ellen found that she could barely get a job in the 80s. A succession of TV movies resulting in two Emmy nominations kept Ellen going as did the series The Ellen Burstyn Show (1986). The TV movies continued through the 90s.
Also in the 90s, Burstyn was cast in the supporting role in such movies as The Cemetery Club (1993), How to Make an American Quilt (1995), The Baby-Sitters Club (1995) and The Spitfire Grill (1996). In addition to her acting, Burstyn was the first woman president of Actor's Equity, the actors' union, from 1982 to 1985.
- Made a special Academy Awards appearance in 1998, at the _The 70th Annual Academy Awards (1998) (TV)_ (qv), and participated in the Oscar Winners Tribute sequence along with other Academy Award winners.
- Is Irish American.
- She wrote to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences to protest 'Liv Ullmann' (qv)'s elimination from Oscar contention in 1974 for her performance in _Scener ur ett šktenskap (1973)_ (qv) (aka "Scenes from a Marriage"). AMPAS used a rule under which TV presentations must have appeared in movie theaters in the same year, to prevent Ullmann from being nominated. The result is that Burstyn won the Oscar for her performance in _Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)_ (qv).
- Received a permanent spinal injury while filming _The Exorcist (1973)_ (qv). In the sequence where she is thrown away from her possessed daughter, a harness jerked her hard away from the bed. She fell on her coccyx and screamed in pain, which was filmed for the movie.
- Burstyn was not able to attend the 1975 Academy Awards Ceremony, thus couldn't accept her Best Actress Oscar for _Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)_ (qv). 'Martin Scorsese' (qv), the film's director, accepted her Oscar on her behalf.
- The character of 'Jean Harris' (qv) seems to be a favorite for Ellen Burstyn. Burstyn was Emmy-nominated for the lead role as 'Jean Harris' (qv) in the 1981 TV-movie, _The People vs. Jean Harris (1981) (TV)_ (qv) and, in 2006, she was nominated as a supporting character (as an ex-lover of Jean Harris's lover) in the cable-movie based on the Harris case in _Mrs. Harris (2005) (TV)_ (qv). Burstyn is perhaps the first actress to be nominated for a performance that is less than 1-minute long (in fact, it is approximately 15 seconds). She vied for the Emmy with fellow "Mrs. Harris" co-star and Oscar-winner 'Cloris Leachman' (qv). Neither won.
- Member of jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1981
- Godmother of her _The Spitfire Grill (1996)_ (qv) co-star, 'Marcia Gay Harden' (qv),'s children.