Shelley Duvall

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Shelley Duvall
Shelley Duvall Bernice Bobs Her Hair 1977.JPG
Duvall on the set of Bernice Bobs Her Hair in 1976
BornShelley Alexis Duvall
(1949-07-07) July 7, 1949 (age 65)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
EducationSouth Texas Junior College
OccupationActress, producer, writer, singer, voice artist, comedienne
Years active1970–2002
Notable work(s)Brewster McCloud, Faerie Tale Theatre, Nashville, Popeye, The Shining, Thieves Like Us, Time Bandits, 3 Women
Height5' 8" (1.73 m)
Spouse(s)Bernard Sampson (m. 1970; div. 1974)
Partner(s)Paul Simon
ParentsBobbie Crawford
Robert Duvall
Cannes Film Festival
Best Actress
1977 3 Women
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Shelley Duvall
Shelley Duvall Bernice Bobs Her Hair 1977.JPG
Duvall on the set of Bernice Bobs Her Hair in 1976
BornShelley Alexis Duvall
(1949-07-07) July 7, 1949 (age 65)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
EducationSouth Texas Junior College
OccupationActress, producer, writer, singer, voice artist, comedienne
Years active1970–2002
Notable work(s)Brewster McCloud, Faerie Tale Theatre, Nashville, Popeye, The Shining, Thieves Like Us, Time Bandits, 3 Women
Height5' 8" (1.73 m)
Spouse(s)Bernard Sampson (m. 1970; div. 1974)
Partner(s)Paul Simon
ParentsBobbie Crawford
Robert Duvall
Cannes Film Festival
Best Actress
1977 3 Women

Shelley Alexis Duvall (born July 7, 1949)[1] is an American actress, producer, writer, singer, and voice artist. She began her career in various Robert Altman films in the 1970s, including Brewster McCloud (1970), Thieves Like Us (1974), Nashville (1975), and 3 Women (1977), which won her the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress and a BAFTA nomination for Best Actress. Duvall had a supporting role in Annie Hall (1977) before starring in lead roles in Popeye (1980) and The Shining (1980).

Later, Duvall appeared in Time Bandits (1981), Frankenweenie (1984), and The Portrait of a Lady (1996). She is also an Emmy-nominated producer responsible for Faerie Tale Theatre and other child-friendly programming. Duvall's most recent performance was in Manna from Heaven (2002).

Early life[edit]

Duvall was born Shelley Alexis Duvall in Houston, Texas on July 7, 1949 to Robert Richardson "Bobby" Duvall (1919-1995), a lawyer, and Bobbie Ruth Crawford.[2] Duvall has three siblings, her brothers Scott, Shane and Stewart.[3]


After leaving school, Duvall sold cosmetics at Foley's and attended South Texas Junior College, where she majored in Nutrition and Diet Therapy. She met Robert Altman when he was shooting his forthcoming film Brewster McCloud (1970) on location. He offered Duvall a part in the film. She said, "I got tired of arguing, and thought maybe I am an actress. They told me to come. I simply got on a plane and did it. I was swept away.[1] Duvall had never left Texas before Altman offered her a film role. She flew to Hollywood and landed the role of a free-spirited love interest to Bud Cort's reclusive Brewster in Brewster McCloud.[1][4]


Altman chose Duvall for roles as an unsatisfied mail-order bride in McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), the daughter of a convict and mistress to Keith Carradine's character in Thieves Like Us (1974), a spaced-out groupie in Nashville (1975), and a sympathetic Wild West woman in Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976).

The same year, Duvall left Altman to star as Bernice, a wealthy girl from Wisconsin in PBS’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story Bernice Bobs Her Hair. She also hosted an evening of Saturday Night Live and appeared in 5 sketches: "Programming Change," "Video Vixens," "Night of the Moonies," "Van Arguments," and "Goodnights."[5]

In 1977, Duvall starred as Mildred "Millie" Lammoreaux in Altman's 3 Women. Duvall's performance garnered the award for Best Actress at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival and the LAFCA Award for Best Actress. She appeared in a minor role in Woody Allen's Annie Hall (1977).[6]


Duvall's next role was Wendy Torrance in The Shining (1980). Nicholson states in the documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures that Kubrick was great to work with but that he was "a different director" with Duvall. Because of Kubrick's methodical nature, principal photography took a year to complete. Kubrick insisted that Duvall and Nicholson perform the baseball bat scene 127 times, which broke a world record for the most retakes of a single movie scene with spoken dialogue.[7] Kubrick and Duvall argued frequently, although Duvall later said she learned more from working with Kubrick on The Shining than she did on all her earlier films.[8]

While Duvall was in London shooting The Shining, Altman asked her to play Olive Oyl in his big-screen adaptation of Popeye opposite Robin Williams, a role Roger Ebert believes she was born to play:

"Shelley Duvall is a like a precious piece of china with a tinkling personality. She looks and sounds like almost nobody else, and if it is true that she was born to play the character Olive Oyl (and does so in Altman's new musical "Popeye"), it is also true that she has possibly played more really different kinds of characters than almost any other young actress of the 1970s."[9]

Her role of Pansy in Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits (1981) followed. In 1982, Duvall narrated, hosted and was executive producer of the children's television program Faerie Tale Theatre. She starred in seven episodes of the series; "Rumpelstiltskin" (1983), "Rapunzel" (1983), "The Nightingale" (1983), "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1984), "Puss in Boots" (1985), and "Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp" (1986). Since the program's first episode "The Frog Prince", which starred Robin Williams and Teri Garr, Duvall has produced 27 hour-long episodes of the program. In 1985, she created Tall Tales & Legends, another one-hour anthology series for Showtime, which featured adaptations of American folk tales. As with Faerie Tale Theatre, the series starred well-known Hollywood actors with Duvall as host, executive producer, and occasional guest star. The series ran for just nine episodes yet garnered Duvall an Emmy nomination.[6]

While Duvall was producing Faerie Tale Theatre, it was reported that she was to star as the lead in the film adaptation of Tom Robbins’s Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, which actually starred Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, her sister Cindy, and Sissy Spacek.[10] The project was delayed, and when it released in 1993 it starred an entirely different cast.[11] She also landed roles in films and television series: the mother of a boy whose dog is struck by car in Tim Burton's short film Frankenweenie (1984), a lonely and timid woman who receives a message from a flying saucer in The Twlight Zone episode "The Once and Future King/A Saucer of Loneliness", and the friend of Steve Martin's character in the comedy Roxanne (1987).

In 1988, Duvall founded a new production company called Think Entertainment to develop programs and television movies for cable channels. She created Nightmare Classics (1989), a third Showtime anthology series that featured adaptations of well-known horror stories by authors including Edgar Allan Poe. Unlike the previous two series, Nightmare Classics was aimed at a teenage and adult audience. It was the least successful series that Duvall produced for Showtime and ran for only four episodes.[12]


In 1991, Duvall portrayed Jenny Wilcox, wife of Charlie Wilcox (Christopher Lloyd) in the Hulk Hogan action-adventure film Suburban Commando. In October that year, Duvall released two compact discs, Hello, I'm Shelley Duvall... Sweet Dreams that features Duvall signing lullaby songs and Hello, I'm Shelley Duvall... Merry Christmas, on which Duvall sings Christmas songs.[13][14]

The following year, Think Entertainment joined the newly formed Universal Family Entertainment to create Duvall's fourth Showtime original series, Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories, which featured animated adaptations of children's storybooks with celebrity narrators and garnered her a second Emmy nomination. Duvall produced a fifth series for Showtime, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, before selling Think Entertainment in 1993 and retiring as a producer. Duvall's production work has gained her six CableACE Awards and one Peabody Award.[6] A year later, Duvall landed a guest spot on the television series L.A. Law as Margo Stanton, a show dog owner and breeder who presses charges against the owner of a Welsh Corgi that mated with her prize-winning Afghan Hound.[15]

She appeared as the vain, over-friendly, but harmless Countess Gemini—sister to the calculating Gilbert Osmond (John Malkovich)—in Jane Campion's 1996 adaptation of the Henry James novel The Portrait of a Lady. A year later, she played a beatific nun in the comedy film Changing Habits and a besotted, murderous, ostrich-farm owner in Guy Maddin's fourth feature Twilight of the Ice Nymphs. The same year she played Chris Cooper's character's gullible wife who yearns for a better life in Horton Foote's made-for-television film, Alone. Duvall continued to make film and television appearances throughout the late-1990s. In 1998, she played Drew Barrymore's mother in the comedy Home Fries and Hilary Duff's aunt in the direct-to-video children's film Casper Meets Wendy. Near the end of the decade she returned to the horror genre with Tale of the Mummy (1998) and The 4th Floor (1999).[16]


In the 2000s, Duvall accepted minor roles, including the mother of Matthew Lawrence's character in the horror-comedy Boltneck and Haylie Duff's aunt in the independent family film Dreams in the Attic, which was sold to the Disney Channel but was never released.[citation needed] Her most recent acting appearance was a small role in the 2002 independent film Manna from Heaven.

Personal life[edit]

Duvall was married to artist Bernard Sampson between 1970 and 1974; the couple divorced as Duvall's acting career accelerated.[17]

While she was shooting in New York for her part in Woody Allen's Annie Hall (1977), she met singer/songwriter Paul Simon. They lived together for two years and their relationship ended when Duvall introduced Simon to her friend, actress Carrie Fisher; Fisher took up with Simon.[18]

Shortly before the release of Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits, it was reported that Duvall and actor Stanley Wilson (who portrayed the town barber in Popeye) were set to marry. However, no further reports were released regarding this.[19]


1970Brewster McCloudSuzanne Davis
1971McCabe & Mrs. MillerIda Coyle
1974Thieves Like UsKeechie
1975NashvilleL. A. Joan
1976Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History LessonMrs. Grover Cleveland
1976Bernice Bobs Her HairBerniceTelevision film
1977Annie HallPam
19773 WomenMillie Lammoreaux
1980PopeyeOlive Oyl
1980The ShiningWendy Torrance
1981Time BanditsPansy
1984FrankenweenieSusan FrankensteinShort film
1984BookerLauraShort film
1986PopplesTelevision film
Executive Producer
1987FrogAnnie AndersonTelevision film
Executive Producer
1990Mother Goose Rock 'n' RhymeLittle Bo PeepTelevision film
1991Suburban CommandoJenny Wilcox
1991Frogs!Annie AndersonTelevision film
1991Stories from Growing upTelevision film
Executive Producer
1991Backfield in MotionTelevision film
Executive Producer
1995The UnderneathNurse
1996The Portrait of a LadyCountess Gemini
1997RocketManMrs. RandallUncredited
1997Twilight of the Ice NymphsAmelia Glahn
1997AloneEstelleTelevision film
1997Changing HabitsSister Agatha
1997My Teacher Ate My HomeworkMrs. Fink
1998Home FriesMrs. Jackson
1998Casper Meets WendyGabbyDirect-to-video
1998Tale of the MummyEdith Butros
1999The 4th FloorMartha Stewart
1999BoltneckMrs. Stein
2000Dreams in the AtticNellie
2002Manna from HeavenDetective Dubrinski


1973CannonLiz ChristieEpisode: "The Seventh Grave"
1973Love, American StyleBonnie LeeEpisode: "Love and the Mr. and Mrs.
1976BarettaAggieEpisode: "Aggie"
1982–1987Faerie Tale TheatreHost/Various rolesCreator, Executive Producer
1985–1987Tall Tales & LegendsHost/Various rolesCreator, Executive Producer
1986The Twilight ZoneMargaretEpisode: "A Saucer of Loneliness"
1989Nightmare ClassicsCreator, Executive Producer
1990Rockin' Through the DecadesHerselfTelevision special
1992The Ray Bradbury TheatreLeota BeanEpisode: "The Tombstone"
1992–1993Shelley Duvall's Bedtime StoriesHost/Various rolesCreator, Executive Producer, Writer
1994Mrs. Piggle-WiggleCreator, Executive Producer
1994L.A. LawMargo StantonEpisode: "Tunnel of Love"
1995FrasierCaroline (voice)Episode: "Dark Victory"
1997The Adventures of Shirley HolmesAlicia FettEpisode: "The Case of the Wannabe Witch"
1997Adventures from the Book of VirtuesFairy (voice)Episode: "Perseverance"
1997Aaahh!!! Real MonstersOcka (voice)Episode: "Oblina Without a Cause"
1998Maggie WintersMurielEpisode: "Dinner at Rachel's"
1999WishboneRenee LassiterEpisode: "Groomed for Greatness"
1999The HughleysMrs. CrumpEpisode: "Storm o' the Century"


Awards and nominations[edit]

19773 WomenLAFCA AwardBest ActressWon
Cannes Film FestivalBest ActressWon
NSFC AwardBest ActressNominated
NYFCC AwardBest ActressNominated
1978BAFTA AwardBest ActressNominated
1981The ShiningRazzie AwardWorst ActressNominated
1984Faerie Tale TheatrePeabody AwardWon
1988Tall Tales & LegendsEmmy AwardOutstanding Children's ProgramNominated
1992Shelley Duvall's Bedtime StoriesEmmy AwardOutstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour)Nominated
1998The Adventures of Shirley HolmesGemini AwardBest Performance by an Actress in a Guest Role Dramatic SeriesNominated


  1. ^ a b c Taylor, Clarke (November 6, 1977). "How Did Shelley Duvall Become a Star?". Boca Raton News. Retrieved April 12, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Robert Richardson Duvall". Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  3. ^ Klemesrud, Judy (March 23, 1977). "Shelley Duvall, An Unlikely Star". New York Times. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Dingus, Anne (July 1999). "What Part Did Shelley Duvall Beat Out Gilda Radner For?". Texas Monthly. Retrieved 25 May 2014. 
  5. ^ "Season 2: Episode 21". Saturday Night Live Transcripts. Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c "Shelley Duvall – Awards". Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  7. ^ "Top 10 Most Maniacal Holiday Movies". Retrieved 2012-02-17. 
  8. ^ Video on YouTube[dead link]
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 4, 1981). "Shelley Duvall Was Ripe for Role of Olive". N.Y. Times Wire Service. Retrieved 13 April 2014. 
  10. ^ Wilson, Earl (November 25, 1981). "It's Thumbs Up for Shelley Duvall". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Retrieved 13 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues". Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  12. ^ Nanwalt, Sasha (August 6, 1989). "Television; Shelley Duvall Tries Scaring Up A New Audience". New York Times. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  13. ^ "Hello, I'm Shelley Duvall...Sweet Dreams by Shelley Duvall". Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  14. ^ "Shelley Duvall Discography". Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  15. ^ "LA Law Season 8 Episode 19 :: "Tunnel of Love"". Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  16. ^ "Shelley Duval". Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  17. ^ Kort, Michele (December 15, 1991). "Shelley Duvall Grows Up: There's a Lot of the Kid Left in the Tenacious Producer Who Put Cable on the Map and Breathed New Life into Children's TV". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  18. ^ Armstrong, Lois (March 16, 1981). "Olive's Wasn't the Only 'Popeye' Love Story—Shelley Duvall Snagged a Prince Charming Too". People. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  19. ^ "Shelley Duvall Announces Plans to Marry This Year". St. Petersburg Times. April 13, 1981. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 

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