|Years active 1970–2002|
Name Shelley Duvall
Height 1.73 m
|Full Name Shelley Alexis Duvall|
Born July 7, 1949 (age 66) (1949-07-07) Houston, Texas, U.S.
Education South Texas Junior College
Occupation Actress, producer, writer, singer, voice artist, comedienne
Partner(s) Paul Simon (1976–1978) Stanley Wilson (1979–1981)
Spouse Bernard Sampson (m. 1970–1974)
Parents Robert Richardson Duvall, Bobbie Ruth Crawford
Albums Sweet Dreams, Merry Christmas
Movies and TV shows The Shining, Popeye, Faerie Tale Theatre, Annie Hall, 3 Women
Similar People Danny Lloyd, Jack Nicholson, Scatman Crothers, Robert Altman, Stanley Kubrick
Shelley Alexis Duvall (born July 7, 1949) is an American former actress, producer, writer, singer, and comedian. Over the duration of her career, Duvall garnered critical acclaim for her portrayals of various eccentric characters.
Duvall began her career appearing in various Robert Altman films in the 1970s, including Brewster McCloud (1970), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), 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.
She 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).
Shelley Alexis Duvall was born on July 7, 1949, in Houston, Texas, the daughter of Bobbie Ruth Crawford and Robert Richardson "Bobby" Duvall (1919–1995), a lawyer (not to be confused with actor Robert Duvall). Duvall has three brothers; Scott, Shane, and Stewart.
After high school 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 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." 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.
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."
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, as well as a BAFTA nomination. She appeared in a minor role in Woody Allen's Annie Hall (1977).
Duvall's next role was Wendy Torrance in The Shining (1980) directed by Stanley Kubrick. Jack 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 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. In order to give The Shining the psychological horror it needed, director Stanley Kubrick antagonized his actors. The film’s script was changed so often that Nicholson stopped reading each draft. Kubrick intentionally isolated Duvall and argued with her often. Duvall was forced to perform the iconic and exhausting baseball bat scene 127 times. Afterwards, Duvall presented Kubrick with clumps of hair that had fallen out due to the extreme stress of filming.
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 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.
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 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 nine episodes garnered Duvall an Emmy nomination.
While Duvall was producing Fairy 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 starred Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, her sister Cindy Hall and Sissy Spacek. The project was delayed and when it released in 1993 it starred an entirely different cast. 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 Twilight 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.
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 singing lullaby songs and Hello, I'm Shelley Duvall... Merry Christmas, on which Duvall sings Christmas songs.
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 gained her six CableACE Awards and one Peabody Award. 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.
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).
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. Her most recent acting appearance was a small role in the 2002 independent film Manna from Heaven.
Duvall was married to artist Bernard Sampson between 1970 and 1974; the couple divorced as Duvall's acting career accelerated.
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. Their relationship ended when Duvall introduced Simon to her friend, actress Carrie Fisher; Fisher took up with Simon.
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.
Duvall is an animal lover, caring for and incorporating many of her favorite pets into original children's stories and songs. In the 1980s and 1990s, she lived in Benedict Canyon in California with her pets.
Duvall has lived out of public view since her retirement in 2002. In November 2016, USA Today reported that she appeared to be suffering from mental illness. Later that month, she appeared on an episode of the television show Dr. Phil. Vivian Kubrick, an anti-psychiatry Scientologist whose father directed Duvall in The Shining (Kubrick is estranged from her family), described the interview as "exploitive entertainment" and "appallingly cruel". After the episode aired, the non profit Actors Fund of America contacted her about providing assistance.
Duvall has no children.