US film actress, who became a leading star in the 1980s.
Born in Summit, New Jersey and educated at Vassar and Yale, she began as a stage actress, appearing in the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1976 and subsequently on Broadway in Tennessee Williams's 27 Wagons Full of Cotton. In 1978 she won an Emmy for her role in the television series Holocaust. Her debut on the big screen came in Julia (1977), but her reputation as a promising contemporary film performer was made in The Deerhunter (1978). A year later she appeared with Woody Allen in Manhattan, although she is generally considered less successful in comedy than in demanding tragic roles, often based on actual events. In Kramer vs. Kramer (1980) she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a story about a particularly painful divorce, while in The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), she won a BAFTA award for her performance as the enigmatic woman of the title, opposite Jeremy Irons. Subsequent roles, in which she was praised for her uncompromising and sincere performances, have included those of a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps in Sophie's Choice (1982), for which she won an Academy Award, an anti-nuclear power campaigner in Silkwood (1983), for which she received an Oscar nomination, the writer Isak Dinesen in Out of Africa (1986), for which she received another Oscar nomination, and a mother accused of murdering her own baby in A Cry in the Dark (1989). Her films of the 1990s, which have been notably less successful, include The Bridges of Madison County (1995).
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).