Born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1934, Shirley MacLaine was the product of a strict middle-class background from which she and her brother, the future actor Warren Beatty, escaped into the fantasy world of show-biz. Her ballet training and her long-legged pixie charm led to rapid success on Broadway in musical comedy.
Inevitably, Hollywood called and by 1955 Shirley was cast in Hitchcock’s The Trouble With Harry. It wasn’t too long before the fine dramatic roles also came to her opposite the most popular leading men of the time, like Fred MacMurray, Jack Lemmon, Frank Sinatra, Clint Eastwood and Robert Mitchum.
But Shirley was not only known for her capacity to play opposite major male stars, she also soon made it clear that women had equal importance for her, both as fellow players and as real life friends. These women included Audrey Hepburn, Julia Roberts, and former Congresswoman Bella Abzug. It was apparent that this once perky “gypsy” of Broadway would leave her mark as one of the finest actresses of her day, an Academy-Award winner, who is ready and able to tackle any role that seems equal to her intelligence and talent. Her widely varied interests encompass the political, the literary and the mystical.
Shirley MacLaine talks with Leonard Lopate about her life lessons and what she wants to impart to the world.
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