Shelley Duvall

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Shelley Duvall
BornShelley Alexis Duvall
(1949-07-07) July 7, 1949 (age 64)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
OccupationActress, television producer
Years active1970–2002
Spouse(s)Bernard Sampson (1970–1977)
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Shelley Duvall
BornShelley Alexis Duvall
(1949-07-07) July 7, 1949 (age 64)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
OccupationActress, television producer
Years active1970–2002
Spouse(s)Bernard Sampson (1970–1977)

Shelley Alexis Duvall (born July 7, 1949)[1] is an American film and television actress. Duvall began her career as a muse for Robert Altman, starring in a multitude of his 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 as well as a BAFTA nomination for Best Actress. Duvall had a supporting role in Annie Hall (1977) before starring in lead roles in Altman's Popeye (1980), and Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980).

Later, Duvall had roles in Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits (1981), Tim Burton's Frankenweenie (1984), and Jane Campion's The Portrait of a Lady (1996). She is also an Emmy-nominated producer, responsible for Faerie Tale Theatre and other kid-friendly programming.


Early career[edit]

Duvall's debut was portraying the free-spirited love interest to Bud Cort's reclusive Brewster in Brewster McCloud. Altman was so impressed with Duvall that he cast her in his next films, including McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Thieves Like Us (1974) and Nashville (1975). In 1977, Duvall was awarded a Best Actress Award by the Cannes Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for her portrayal of the delusional Millie Lammoreaux in Altman's 3 Women. That same year, she appeared in Annie Hall as Woody Allen's one-night stand, and she hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live.

Duvall's next role was Wendy Torrance opposite Jack Nicholson in Stanley Kubrick's 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. Due to Kubrick's highly methodical nature, principal photography took a year to complete. Perhaps the most notorious example of this was Kubrick's insistence that she and Nicholson perform 127 takes of the baseball bat scene, which broke a world record for the most retakes of a single movie scene with spoken dialogue.[2] Kubrick and Duvall had frequent arguments although Duvall later said she learned more from working with Kubrick on The Shining than she did on all her previous films.[3]

In January 1979, Altman offered her the role he believed she was born to play: Olive Oyl in the big-screen adaptation of Popeye. Duvall was initially reluctant to accept the role due to negative memories of being called "Olive Oyl" as a child but went on to accept it in stride. Her version of "He Needs Me" from Popeye was featured in Punch-Drunk Love.

Following the success of The Shining and Popeye, Duvall had supporting roles in Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits (1981), Tim Burton's Frankenweenie (1984) and the Steve Martin comedy Roxanne (1987).

As a producer[edit]

During the making of Popeye, Duvall showed Robin Williams some of the antique illustrated fairy tale books that she had been collecting since she was 17. One of these was an old copy of The Frog Prince. Envisioning Williams as the perfect "Frog Prince", she formed her own production company, Platypus Productions, and approached Showtime with an idea for a cable television series based on classic fairy tales. Showtime embraced the project and began airing episodes of Faerie Tale Theatre in 1982. The one-hour anthology series featured live-action adaptations of well-known fairy tales and starred many of Duvall's celebrity friends. Duvall played characters in four episodes and hosted all 26 until the end of the series' run in 1987. In 1985, she created Tall Tales & Legends, another one-hour anthology series for Showtime, this one featuring adaptations of American folk tales. As with Faerie Tale Theatre, the series starred well-known Hollywood actors, with Duvall serving as host, executive producer, and occasional guest star. The series ran for only nine episodes but brought an Emmy nomination for Duvall.

After Tall Tales and Legends ended in 1988, Duvall founded a new production company called Think Entertainment to develop programs and made-for-TV movies for cable channels. Under the banner of Think Entertainment she created Nightmare Classics, a third Showtime anthology series. It featured adaptations of well-known horror stories by such authors as 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, running for only four episodes. In 1992, Think Entertainment joined forces with 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. It earned 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.

Later career[edit]

Duvall continued to make film and television appearances throughout the 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. She returned to the horror genre with Tale of the Mummy (1998), The 4th Floor (1999) and the horror-comedy Boltneck (2000).

In 2000, she played Haylie Duff's aunt in the independent family film Dreams in the Attic, which was shopped to the Disney Channel but never released.[4] Her most recent acting appearance was a small role in the 2002 independent film Manna from Heaven. Recent years have found Duvall mostly retired and living in Texas after an earthquake damaged her California home. According to a 2010 interview her regular activities include writing poetry and taking care of pets.



1970Brewster McCloudSuzanne Davis
1971McCabe & Mrs. MillerIda Coyle
1974Thieves Like UsKeechie
1975NashvilleL. A. Joan
1976Bernice Bobs Her HairBerniceTelevision film
Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History LessonMrs. Grover Cleveland
1977Annie HallPam
3 WomenMillie LammoreauxCannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress (tied with Monique Mercure)
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress (2nd place)
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress (2nd place)
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
1980PopeyeOlive Oyl
The ShiningWinnifred "Wendy" TorranceNominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress
1981Time BanditsPansy
1984FrankenweenieSusan FrankensteinShort film
BookerLauraShort film
1986PopplesTelevision film
Executive Producer, Writer
FrogMrs. AndersonTelevision film
Executive Producer
1990Mother Goose Rock 'n' RhymeLittle Bo PeepTelevision film
1991Suburban CommandoJenny Wilcox
Frogs!AnnieTelevision film
Stories from Growing UpTelevision film
Executive Producer
Backfield in MotionTelevision film
Executive Producer
1995The UnderneathNurse
1996The Portrait of a LadyCountess Gemini
1997AloneEstelleTelevision film
RocketManMrs. Randalluncredited
Twilight of the Ice NymphsAmelia Glahn
Changing HabitsSister Agatha
My Teacher Ate My HomeworkMrs. Fink
1998Home FriesMrs. Jackson
Casper Meets WendyGabby
Tale of the MummyEdith Butros
1999The 4th FloorMartha Stewart
2000Dreams in the AtticNellie(unreleased)
Big Monster on CampusMrs. Stein
2002Manna from HeavenDetective Dubrinski


1973CannonLiz ChristieEpisode: "The Seventh Grave"
Love, American StyleBonnie LeeEpisode: "Love and the Mr. and Mrs."
1976BarettaAggieEpisode: "Aggie"
1982-1987Faerie Tale TheatreHost
Various roles
Creator, Executive Producer
1985-1987Tall Tales & LegendsHost
Various roles
Creator, Executive Producer
1986The Twilight ZoneMargaretEpisode: "A Saucer of Loneliness"
1989Nightmare ClassicsCreator, Executive Producer
1992The Ray Bradbury TheatreLeota BeanEpisode: "The Tombstone"
1992-1993Shelley Duvall's Bedtime StoriesHost
Various roles
Creator, Executive Producer, Writer
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour)
1994Mrs. Piggle-WiggleCreator, Executive Producer
L.A. LawMargo StantonEpisode: "Tunnel of Love"
Episode: "Dark Victory"
1997The Adventures of Shirley HolmesAlice FettEpisode: "The Case of the Wannabe Witch"
Adventures from the Book of VirtuesFairyVoice
Episode: "Perseverance"
Aaahh!!! Real MonstersOckaVoice
Episode: "Oblina Without a Cause"
1998Maggie WintersMurielEpisode: "Dinner at Rachel's"
1999WishboneRenee LassiterEpisode: "Groomed for Greatness"
The HughleysMrs. CrumpEpisode: "Storm o' the Century"


  1. ^ Film Reference
  2. ^ "Top 10 Most Maniacal Holiday Movies". Retrieved 2012-02-17. 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "Haylie Duff's Movie Info Site". Retrieved 2012-02-17. 

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