Carolyn Bridger Anderson

On Tuesday, my aunt Carolyn died.  She always had so much to do and say, always completing projects.  Her professional and artistic friends reach around the world.  She was one of the most intelligent people I have ever met.  The world is a better place because she was in it and is feeling the loss now that she has left.

Pianist Carolyn Bridger, who was the principal keyboardist with the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra and a former faculty member at the Florida State College of Music, died in an auto accident near Traverse City, Mich., on Tuesday morning. She was 71.

“Carolyn was beloved by her colleagues and many, many students,” TSO executive director Amanda Stringer said in an email. “A fantastic pianist, she played in the TSO over 30 years and performed throughout the country in many different capacities. We extend our deepest sympathies to her family and all others who loved and knew her.”

Bridger, who created the collaborative piano (or accompanying) program at FSU, was a founding member of the TSO in the early ’80s with conductor Nicholas Harsanyi.

“As a player, she was solid as a rock,” Stringer said. “We will miss her presence on stage.”

The Traverse City Record-Eagle is reporting Bridger was in Michigan, where she owns a home in Interlochen, to attend a funeral. She and other family members were returning from the airport in Traverse City when a Brimley, Mich., man crossed the central median and struck their car around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Bridger was pronounced dead on the scene. The driver and two other passengers in Bridger’s car were taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The Record-Eagle is reporting the man who caused the wreck was arrested on charges of “driving while license suspended causing death” and two other license-related charges. A Traverse City Sheriff’s Office deputy said that all drivers and passengers were wearing their seat belts at the time of impact. Deputies are still investigating the exact cause of the fatal crash on the icy roadway.

The sudden death was a major loss for Tallahassee‘s classical-music community. It left friends and colleagues reeling.

“She was tireless, she never ran out of energy,” said violinist Karen Clarke, a former concert master for the TSO and a professor emerita from the FSU College of Music. “She contributed so much to Tallahassee.”

In the early ’90s, Bridger played a supporting role in founding The Artist Series along with her husband, Waldie Anderson, who died in 2011. The Artist Series made its debut in 1995 with performances by the Eroica Trio and Rockapella.

In 1994, Anderson and Bridger rallied a group of non-professional musicians to form the Big Bend Community Orchestra.

“She was such an inspiration to so many students and she and Waldie were indefatigable music ambassadors,” former TSO executive director Lois Griffin said in an email.

The upbeat, quick-to-smile Bridger was as busy as ever this fall on stages around Tallahassee. In October, she performed as the accompanist with cello player Evgeni Raychev at a recital hall at FSU and, in September, she was featured in the Tallahassee Ballet’s annual “An Evening of Music and Dance” in Opperman Music Hall.

She was booked to accompany on piano for the Tallahassee Music Guild’s annual “Sing-Along Messiah” concert on Dec. 2 at Faith Presbyterian Church. Her Florida State College of Music colleague, pianist Timothy Hoekman, has been tapped as her replacement.

“Carolyn’s musical fingerprint is on almost everything in Tallahassee,” Florida State Opera conductor Douglas Fisher said in an email. “She played countless performances of recitals, chamber music, symphony engagements, public service events and more.”

When it came to range, the versatile Bridger could play everything from Baroque chamber music to cutting-edge material at the Festival of New Music. Her focus was as an accompanist, which meant she could fit in with nearly any kind of music or performer.

“How many famous accompanists are there out there?” former Florida State College of Music associate dean and oboist George Riordan said. “By nature, she was always in the background and making things happen. She ran the accompanying program (at FSU) and taught students how to play with singers, soloists, any type of musician. Her absolute devotion to her students was endless, not only when they students but also after they went out into the world.”

Bridger joined the FSU faculty in 1976 and retired in 2010. During her tenure, she became the resident director of the FSU Study-Abroad Summer Program in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Bridger played concerts all around the world, ranging from Malaysia to the Dalmatian Islands to Carnegie Hall in Manhattan.

A graduate of Oberlin College & Conservatory, Indiana University and the University of Iowa, Bridger also studied at the Mozarteum Akademie in Salzburg, Austria. She won the the prestigious Schubert Prize for Accompanying in Austria. The pianist also had close ties with Interlochen Arts Camp, which is located just a few miles south of Traverse City.

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Happy Birthday Sister Mary Corita Kent

Today is the 96th birthday Sister Mary Corita Kent.  Google Doodle is celebrating her birthday today.  You should too.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

Name:  Frances Elisabeth Kent
Occupation:  Nun, Artist, Educator
Birth Date: November 20,1918
Death Date:  September 18, 1986
Education:  Columbia University
Place of BirthFort Dodge, Iowa
Also Known As:  Sister Mary Corita Kent

BEST KNOWN FOR:  Sister Mary Corita Kent was an American nun, an artist and an educator who worked in Los Angeles and Boston.

Corita Kent, also known as Sister Corita, gained international fame for her vibrant serigraphs during the 1960s and 1970s. A Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, she ran the Art Department at Immaculate Heart College until 1968 when she left the Order and moved to Boston. Corita’s art reflects her spirituality, her commitment to social justice, her hope for peace, and her delight in the world that takes place all around us.

Corita was born Frances Kent in 1918 in Fort Dodge, Iowa. She grew up in Los Angeles and joined the Order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1936, taking the name Sister Mary Corita.

She graduated from Immaculate Heart College in 1941 and then taught grade school in British Columbia. In 1946 she returned to Immaculate Heart College to teach art. In 1951, she received a master’s degree in art history from the University of Southern California; it is also the year she exhibited her first silkscreen print. Corita’s earliest works were largely iconographic; known as “neo-gothic” they borrowed phrases and depicted images from the Bible.

By the 1960s, she was using popular culture (such as song lyrics and advertising slogans) as raw material for her meaning-filled bursts of text and color. Corita’s cries for peace in the era of Vietnam were not always welcome. In 1965 her “Peace on Earth” Christmas exhibit in IBM’s New York show room was seen as too subversive and Corita had to amend it. However, her work continued to be an outlet for her activism—in Corita’s words:
“I am not brave enough to not pay my income tax and risk going to jail. But I can say rather freely what I want to say with my art.”

By then Corita was the chairman of the famous Immaculate Heart College Art Department. Buckminster Fuller described his visit to the department as “among the most fundamentally inspiring experiences of my life.” Other influential friends of hers included Charles Eames , Ben Shahn, Harvey Cox and the Berrigan brothers.

August was Corita’s time for her own art making. During the three weeks between semesters, she and her students would work round the clock printing new serigraph designs by the hundreds. Corita’s chronic insomnia no doubt made some of this possible, but it was often accompanied by a bleak depression. In 1968 Corita decided to devote herself entirely to making art. She left the Order and Los Angeles, and moved to Boston’s Back Bay. She made numerous commissioned works (Westinghouse Group W ads, book covers and murals) and continued to create her own serigraphs (over 400) in the next 18 years. Still using exuberant splashes of color, the tone of her work became more generally spiritual and introspective. Watercolor “plein air” paintings and great floral silk screens dominated her later works.Corita remained active in social causes and designed posters and billboards for Share, the International Walk for Hunger, Physicians for Social Responsibility and Amnesty International.

The Boston Gas tank on the Southeast Expressway still bears her famous 150-foot rainbow swash, which is a similar to her design for the 1985 Love Stamp. On Sept. 18, 1986 Corita finally lost her battle with cancer and died at a friend’s home.

Happy Birthday Marie Dressler

This week is the 146th birthday of Marie Dressler, an amazing character actress.  She is one of those actors that play the mother or the wealthy aunt or the uptight grandmother that is really there to create conflict and contrast between the leading roles, but I end up watching her.  Later in her film career, they would give her these lines, little throw away quips that were so hilarious and I hope she really loved being able to sneak in zingers while the rest of the characters were too caught up in love and so forth to notice.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss since she has left.

NAME: Marie Dressler
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress, Comedian
BIRTHDATE: November 09, 1868
DEATH DATE: July 28, 1934
PLACE OF BIRTH: Cobourg, Canada
PLACE OF DEATH: Santa Barbara, California
Originally: Leila Marie Koerber

Best Known For:  Marie Dressler is best known for her acting in the theater and film, winning an Oscar.

Dressler had appeared in two shorts as herself, but her first role in a feature film came in 1914, at the age of 44.  After Mack Sennett became the owner of his namesake motion picture studio, he convinced Dressler to star in his 1914 silent film Tillie’s Punctured Romance. The film was to be the first full-length, six-reel motion picture comedy.  According to Sennett, a prospective budget of $200,000 meant that he needed “a star whose name and face meant something to every possible theatre-goer in the United States and the British Empire.”  The movie was based on Dressler’s hit Tillie’s Nightmare, a choice credited either to Dressler or to a Keystone studio employee.  Dressler herself claims to have cast Charles Chaplin in the movie as her leading man, and was “proud to have had a part in giving him his first big chance.”  Instead of his recently invented Tramp character, Chaplin played a villainous rogue. Silent film comedienne Mabel Normand also starred in the movie. Tillie’s Punctured Romance was a hit with audiences and Dressler appeared in two Tillie sequels and other comedies until 1918, when she returned to vaudeville.

In 1919, during the Actors’ Equity strike in New York City, the Chorus Equity Association was formed and voted Dressler its first president. Dressler was blacklisted by the theater production companies due to her strong stance. Dressler found it difficult to find work during the 1920s. She left New York for Hollywood in search of work in films.

In 1927, Frances Marion, an MGM screenwriter, came to Dressler’s rescue. Dressler had shown great kindness to Marion during the filming of Tillie Wakes Up in 1917, and in return, Marion used her influence with MGM’s production chief Irving Thalberg to return Dressler to the screen.  Her first MGM feature was The Callahans and the Murphys (1927), a rowdy silent comedy co-starring Dressler (as Ma Callahan) with another former Mack Sennett comedienne, Polly Moran, written by Marion.

The film was initially a success, but the portrayal of Irish characters caused a protest in the Irish World newspaper, protests by the American Irish Vigilance Committee, and pickets outside the film’s New York theatre. The film was first cut by MGM in an attempt to appease the Irish community, then eventually pulled from release after Cardinal Dougherty of the diocese of Philadelphia called MGM president Nicholas Schenck.  It was not shown again, and the negative and prints may have been destroyed. While the film brought her to Hollywood, it did not establish Dressler’s career. Her next appearance was a minor part in the First National film Breakfast at Sunrise. She appeared again with Moran in Bringing Up Father, another film written by Marion, and also appeared in an early color film, The Joy Girl. Dressler returned to MGM in 1928′s The Patsy in a winning portrayal, playing the fluttery mother to star Marion Davies and Jane Winton.

Hollywood was converting from silent films, but “talkies” presented no problems for Dressler, whose rumbling voice could handle both sympathetic scenes and snappy comebacks (she’s the wisecracking stage actress in Chasing Rainbows and the dubious matron in Rudy Vallee’s Vagabond Lover). Early in 1930, Dressler joined Edward Everett Horton’s theater troupe in L.A. to play a princess in Ferenc Molnár’s The Swan. But after one week, she quit the troupe. She proceeded to leave Horton flat, much to his indignation.

Frances Marion persuaded Thalberg to give Dressler the role of Marthy, the old harridan who welcomes Greta Garbo home after the search for her father, in the 1930 film Anna Christie. Garbo and the critics were impressed by Dressler’s acting ability, and so was MGM, which quickly signed her to a $500-per-week contract.

A robust, full-bodied woman of very plain features, Dressler went on to act in comic films which were very popular with the movie-going public and an equally lucrative investment for MGM. Although past sixty years of age, she quickly became Hollywood’s number one box-office attraction, and stayed on top until her death at age 65. In addition to her comedic genius and her natural elegance, Dressler demonstrated her considerable talents by taking on serious roles. For her starring portrayal in Min and Bill, with Wallace Beery, she won the 1930–31 Academy Award for Best Actress (the eligibility years were staggered at that time). Dressler was nominated again for Best Actress for her 1932 starring role in Emma. With that film, Dressler demonstrated her profound generosity to other performers. Dressler personally insisted that her studio bosses cast a friend of hers, a largely unknown young actor named Richard Cromwell, in the lead opposite her. This break helped launch his career.

Dressler followed these successes with more hits in 1933, including the comedy Dinner at Eight, in which she played an aging but vivacious former stage actress. Dressler had a memorable bit with Jean Harlow in the film:

Harlow: Do you know that the guy said that machinery is going to take the place of every profession?
Dressler: Oh my dear, that’s something you need never worry about.

Following the release of that film, Dressler appeared on the cover of Time magazine, in its August 7, 1933, issue. MGM held a huge birthday party for Dressler in 1933, broadcast live via radio. Her newly regenerated career came to an abrupt end when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1934. MGM head Louis B. Mayer learned of Dressler’s illness from her doctor and asked that she not be told. To keep her home, he ordered her not to travel on her vacation because he wanted to put her in a new film. Dressler was furious but complied.

Dressler appeared in more than forty films, and achieved her greatest successes in talking pictures made during the last years of her life. Always seeing herself as physically unattractive, she wrote an autobiography titled The Life Story of an Ugly Duckling.

On Saturday July 28, 1934, Dressler died of cancer at the age of 65 in Santa Barbara, California. After a private funeral held at The Wee Kirk o’ the Heather chapel, Dressler was interred in a crypt in the Great Mausoleum in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale in Glendale, California.

Dressler left an estate worth $310,000, the bulk left to her sister Bonita.  Dressler left her 1931 automobile and $35,000 in her will to her maid of twenty years, Mamie Cox, and $15,000 to Cox’s husband Jerry, who had served as Dressler’s butler for four years.  The two used the funds to open the Cocoanut Grove night club in Savannah, Georgia in 1936, named after the night club in Los Angeles.

Dressler’s birth home in Cobourg, Ontario is known as the “Marie Dressler House” and is open to the public. The home was converted to a restaurant in 1937 and operated as a restaurant until 1989, when it was damaged by fire. It was restored but did not open again as a restaurant. It was the office of the Cobourg Chamber of Commerce until its conversion to its current use as a museum about Dressler and as a visitor information office for Cobourg. Each year, the Marie Dressler Foundation Vintage Film Festival is held, with screenings in Cobourg and in Port Hope, Ontario.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Marie Dressler has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1731 Vine Street, added in 1960.

Canada Post, as part of its “Canada in Hollywood” series, issued a postage stamp on June 30, 2008 to honour Marie Dressler.

Happy Birthday Kay Thompson

This week is the 105th birthday of Kay Thompson.  I mean, have you seen that “Swing Them Bells” scene in Funny Face?  It is everything.  Or that other other “Think Pink” scene?  She is channeling her best Diana Vreeland. The world is a better place because Kay Thompson was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

Born: Catherine Louise Fink November 9, 1909 St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died: July 2, 1998 (aged 88) New York City, New York, U.S.

Catherine Louise Fink was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1909, the second of the four children of Leo George Fink, an Austrian-born pawnbroker and jeweler, and his wife, the former Hattie A. Tetrick. Her siblings were Blanche, Marian, and Leo.

Thompson began her career in the 1930s as a singer and choral director for radio. Her first big break was as a regular singer on The Bing Crosby-Woodbury Show (CBS, 1933–34). This led to a regular spot on The Fred Waring-Ford Dealers Show (NBC, 1934–35) and then, with conductor Lennie Hayton, she co-founded The Lucky Strike Hit Parade (CBS, 1935) where she met (and later married) trombonist Jack Jenney.

In 1943, Thompson signed an exclusive contract with MGM to become the studio’s top vocal arranger, vocal coach, and choral director. She served as main vocal arranger for many of producer Arthur Freed’s MGM musicals and as vocal coach to such stars as Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra, and June Allyson.

Thompson, who lived at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, became most notable as the author of the Eloise series of children’s books, which were partly inspired by the antics of her goddaughter Liza Minnelli, daughter of Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli, but when asked if this was true responded, “I am Eloise”. The four books in the series, illustrated by Hilary Knight, are Eloise (Simon & Schuster, 1955), Eloise in Paris (Simon & Schuster, 1957), Eloise at Christmastime (Random House, 1958) and Eloise in Moscow (Simon & Schuster, 1959). They follow the adventures of the precocious six-year-old girl who lives at The Plaza. All were bestsellers upon release and have been adapted into television projects. She also composed and performed a Top 40 hit song, “Eloise” (Cadence Records, 1956). A fifth book, Eloise Takes a Bawth was posthumously published by Simon & Schuster in 2002, culled from Thompson’s original manuscripts once slated for 1964 publication by Harper & Row. However, at the time, Thompson was burned out on Eloise; she blocked publication and took all but the first book out of print, drastically reducing the income of her collaborator.

She returned to live in New York in 1969. Immediately following the death of Judy Garland, Kay appeared with her goddaughter Liza Minnelli in Otto Preminger’s Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (Paramount, 1970). In 1974, Thompson directed a groundbreaking fashion show at the Palace of Versailles featuring performances by Liza Minnelli and the collections of Halston, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, and Anne Klein.

Happy Birthday Hedy Lamarr

This week is the 100h birthday of achingly beautiful actress, brilliant scientist, author and compulsive shoplifter Hedy Lamarr.  She was married six times and slept with Hitler (so says a biographer).  She is an amazing example of everyone’s ability to have many interests and explore all of them.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Hedy Lamarr
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: November 09, 1913
DEATH DATE: January 19, 2000
PLACE OF BIRTH: Vienna, Austria
PLACE OF DEATH: Orlando, Florida
ORIGINALLY: Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler

BEST KNOWN FOR: Extraordinarily beautiful, Hedy Lamarr was a Austrian-American actress during MGM’s “Golden Age.”

Actress. Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, on November 9, 1913, in Vienna, Austria. Discovered by an Austrian film director as a teenager, she gained international notice in 1933, with her role in the sexy Czech film Ecstasy. After her marriage with Fritz Mandl, a wealthy Austrian munitions manufacturer, ended, she signed a contract with the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio and began her career in Hollywood as Hedy Lamarr. Upon the release of her first American film, Algiers, co-starring Charles Boyer, Lamarr became an immediate box-office sensation.

Often referred to as one of the most gorgeous and exotic of Hollywood’s leading ladies, Lamarr made a number of well-received films during the 1930s and 1940s. Notable among them were Lady of the Tropics (1939), co-starring Robert Taylor; Boom Town (1940), with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy; Tortilla Flat (1942), co-starring Tracy; and Samson and Delilah (1949), opposite Victor Mature. She was reportedly producer Hal Wallis’ first choice for the heroine in his classic 1943 film, Casablanca, a part that eventually went to Ingrid Bergman.

In 1942, during the heyday of her career, Lamarr earned recognition in a field quite different from entertainment. She and her friend, the composer George Antheil, received a patent for an idea of a radio signaling device, or “Secret Communications System,” that later became an important step in the development of technology to maintain the security of both military communications and cellular phones.

Lamarr’s film career began to decline in the 1950s; her last film was 1958′s The Female Animal, with Jane Powell. In 1966, she published a steamy best-selling autobiography, Ecstasy and Me, but later sued the publisher for what she saw as errors and distortions perpetrated by the book’s ghostwriter. She was arrested twice for shoplifting, once in 1966 and once in 1991, but neither arrest resulted in a conviction.

Lamarr was married six times and had two children, Anthony and Denise, with her third husband, the actor John Loder. She also adopted a son, James. In the later years of her life, Lamarr lived quietly in Orlando, Florida. She died on January 19, 2000, at the age of 86.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Hedy Lamarr has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6247 Hollywood Blvd.

In 2003, the Boeing corporation ran a series of recruitment ads featuring Hedy Lamarr as a woman of science. No reference to her film career was made in the ads.

Personal Quotes

“My problem is, I’m a hell of a nice dame, The most horrible whores are famous. I did what I did for love. The others did it for money.”

“Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR

The Female Animal (22-Jan-1958)
The Story of Mankind (8-Nov-1957) · Joan of Arc
My Favorite Spy (17-Dec-1951) · Lily Dalbray
Copper Canyon (22-Sep-1950)
A Lady Without Passport (3-Aug-1950) · Marianne Lorress
Samson and Delilah (31-Oct-1949) · Delilah
Let’s Live a Little (9-Dec-1948)
Dishonored Lady (16-May-1947) · Madeleine Damien
The Strange Woman (25-Oct-1946)
Her Highness and the Bellboy (11-Jul-1945) · Princess Veronica
Experiment Perilous (18-Dec-1944) · Allida Bederaux
The Conspirators (17-Oct-1944) · Irene Von Mohr
The Heavenly Body (29-Dec-1943) · Vicky Whitley
Crossroads (23-Jul-1942) · Lucienne Talbot
Tortilla Flat (21-May-1942) · Dolores Sweets Ramirez
White Cargo (1942) · Tondelayo
H.M. Pulham, Esq. (3-Dec-1941) · Marvin Myles
Ziegfeld Girl (25-Apr-1941) · Sandra Kolter
Come Live With Me (29-Jan-1941) · Johnny Jones
Comrade X (13-Dec-1940) · Theodore
Boom Town (30-Aug-1940) · Karen Vanmeer
I Take This Woman (2-Feb-1940) · Georgi Gragore
Lady of the Tropics (11-Aug-1939) · Manon DeVargnes
Algiers (28-Jun-1938) · Gaby
Ecstasy (20-Jan-1933)

Notorious – Required Viewing

Notorious

The Wiki:

Notorious is a 1946 American thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains as three people whose lives become intimately entangled during an espionage operation. It was shot in late 1945 and early 1946, and was released by RKO in August 1946.

Notorious marks a watershed for Hitchcock artistically, and represents a heightened thematic maturity. His biographer, Donald Spoto, writes that “Notorious is in fact Alfred Hitchcock’s first attempt—at the age of forty-six—to bring his talents to the creation of a serious love story, and its story of two men in love with Ingrid Bergman could only have been made at this stage of his life.”

The film is known for two scenes in particular. In one of his most famous shots, Hitchcock starts wide and high on a second floor balcony overlooking the great hall of a grand mansion. Slowly he tracks down and in on Ingrid Bergman, finally ending with a tight close-up of a key tucked in her hand. Hitchcock also devised “a celebrated scene” that circumvented the Production Code‘s ban on kisses longer than three seconds—by having his actors disengage every three seconds, murmur and nuzzle each other, then start right back up again. The two-and-a-half minute osculation is “perhaps his most intimate and erotic kiss”.

Happy Birthday Sally Field

Today is the 68th birthday of Sally Field.  The world is a better place because she is in it.

NAME: Sally Field
OCCUPATION: Actress
BIRTH DATE: November 6, 1946
PLACE OF BIRTH: Pasadena, California
FULL NAME: Sally Margaret Field

BEST KNOWN FOR: Sally Field is an American actress best known TV and film roles such as Gidget, The Flying Nun, Smokey and the Bandit, Sybil and Places in the Heart.

Actress, director and writer Sally Margaret Field was born on November 6, 1946, in Pasadena, California. Sally Field, the youngest of two children born to actress Margaret Field, grew up in show business. After Sally’s parents divorced, her mother married actor and stuntman Jock Mahoney. Field’s stepfather was a strict disciplinarian who expected faithful obedience from Field, her older brother, and half-sister Princess. Mahoney also fought frequently with Sally’s mother, and the couple’s increasingly rocky relationship weighted heavily on the children. Sally found solace from her difficult home life by focusing on her extracurricular activities at school. “I’d landed in the drama department, and it just kind of saved me,” she later explained to Good Housekeeping magazine.

After finishing up at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, California, Field attended an acting workshop at Columbia Studios, which helped launch her film and television career. She landed the leading role in the television series Gidget, which was based on the popular 1959 Sandra Dee film by the same name. Field was only 18 years old when the series debuted in the fall of 1965. Petite and perky, she played a teenager on a quest to find fun with her best friend Larue (played by Lynette Winter). The show was canceled after one season, but Field became popular with television audiences—so popular, in fact, that the network created another series for her. The Flying Nun starred Field as Sister Bertrille, a nun so light that she could take flight. Field didn’t want to take the part, but her stepfather insisted, telling her, “If you turn down this part, you may never work again.”

The Flying Nun premiered in September 1967, and soon became a huge hit. Viewers seemed to enjoy following the misadventures of quirky, aerodynamic Sister Bertrille. Behind the scenes, however, Field was miserable. She struggled with the feeling that she would never be considered a serious actress, and the show only magnified that fear. In 1968, she married her high school sweetheart, Steven Craig, and soon became pregnant. Her pregnancy was hidden on the series using creative shots and the folds of her billowy nun’s habit. Field wouldn’t have to hide for long, though; the show was canceled in 1970, after three seasons on the air.

After giving birth to a second child in 1972, Field returned to acting in 1973 with the short-lived sitcom The Girl with Something Extra. Field played a young newlywed with ESP on the show, which lasted only one season. Reconnecting to her craft, Field studied acting at the Actors Studio with famed teacher Lee Strasberg. Strasberg became a powerful mentor, encouraging Field to move away from her goody-two-shoes television image. This new part of her transformation also included divorcing her husband in 1975.

After several auditions, Field landed a role in 1976′s bodybuilding film Stay Hungry with Jeff Bridges and Arnold Schwarzenegger. She co-starred as a party girl, a far cry from the innocent characters she played on the small screen. That same year, Field entered a new phase of her career with the television movie Sybil. She showed great emotional range as a woman with multiple-personality disorder, winning her first Emmy Award for her work on the TV film. Returning to the big screen, Field appeared in 1977′s Smokey and the Bandit, playing a runaway bride who catches a ride from a trucker (played by Bert Reynolds). Field and Reynolds became romantically involved on the set of film, and starred together in several light-hearted comedies, including 1978′s Hooper and 1980′s Smokey and the Bandit II.

It was a dramatic role that brought Field her first Academy Award. In 1979, she starred as a gutsy, determined mill worker who tries to unionize her workplace in Norma Rae. Field received raves for her performance and netted the Best Actress Oscar, beating out the likes of Jane Fonda, Marsha Mason, Jill Clayburgh, and Bette Midler. She continued to take on dramatic fare, starring opposite Paul Newman in 1981′s Absence of Malice. In the film, Field played a ruthless journalist.

Re-teaming with Jeff Bridges, Field starred in the 1982 romantic comedy Kiss Me Goodbye as a widow trying to rebuild her life. Her character is haunted by her late husband’s ghost (played by James Caan), who does not approve of her new love interest. For her work on the film, Field was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

Field then starred the 1984 historical drama Places in the Heart, as a widow struggling to keep her family’s farm during the Great Depression. The film featured a strong supporting cast, including John Malkovich, Lindsay Crouse, Danny Glover and Ed Harris, and received strong reviews. Nominated for seven Academy Awards, the film won two—one for writing, and one for Field as Best Actress. Field was just as thrilled to be winning her second Academy Award as she was for her first, perhaps even more so. During her acceptance speech, she gushed, “You like me. You really like me.” This enthusiastic comment may have been the most memorable quote of the evening, and Field soon found herself the subject of numerous jokes and quips because of it.

Field’s career continued to thrive with leading roles in 1985′s Murphy’s Romance with James Garner and 1988′s Punchline. As part of an all-star cast, she appeared in the 1989 Southern drama Steel Magnolias, which included Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, and a young starlet named Julia Roberts. Field later produced the 1991 drama Dying Young, which starred Roberts.

In the 1990s, Field took on more character and supporting roles. She played Robin Williams’ estranged wife in the family comedy Mrs. Doubtfire and Tom Hanks’ mother in the 1994 whimsical hit Forest Gump. She also produced and starred in the 1995 television miniseries A Woman of Independent Means, the story of one woman’s life journey during the early 20th century. Continuing to work behind the scenes, she directed and wrote the 1996 holiday television movie The Christmas Tree, which starred Julie Harris.

Field next directed the 2000 film Beautiful, which starred Minnie Driver as a ruthless beauty queen. Returning to series television, Field won accolades for her recurring role on the hit drama ER, playing the bipolar mother of one of the doctors. Field’s nuanced performance earned her another Emmy Award—this time for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2001.

In 2002, Field fulfilled a personal dream by starring on Broadway in Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?. She then had a supporting role on the 2003 big-screen comedy Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde starring Reese Witherspoon. Before long, Field was contemplating a return to series television. She found great success with the family drama Brothers & Sisters, playing the matriarch of the Walker family. The show resonated with Field’s own values, saying it “is all about a dysfunctional family whose members deeply love each other and are bonded together. My whole life is about family,” Field told the Saturday Evening Post. She won her third Emmy Award for her portrayal of Nora Walker in 2007.

After Brothers & Sisters went off the air in 2011, Field returned to the big screen. She had a supporting role in the summer blockbuster The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) starring Andrew Garfield. In the film, Field played Peter Parker’s beloved Aunt May. That fall, Field tackled the role of one of American history’s least popular first ladies. She co-starred with Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, with Day-Lewis as the beloved president Abraham Lincoln and Field as his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Robert Todd Lincoln in the film.

Outside of her television work, Field has served on the board of the Sundance Institute. She has also worked with young actors during the institute’s summer programs. Diagnosed with osteoporosis, Field has become a spokesperson on the issue for a pharmaceutical company that markets Boniva, a medication to treat the disease.

Field is also devoted to her three adult children and her grandchildren. She has two sons, Peter and Eli, from her first marriage. Her youngest son, Samuel, is from her second marriage to producer Alan Greisman, which lasted from 1984 to 1993.