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Kathleen Turner

Mary Kathleen Turner (born June 19, 1954) is a Tony Award- and Academy Award-nominated American actress. She came to fame during the 1980s, after roles in the Hollywood films Body Heat, Romancing the Stone and Prizzi's Honor.

Early life

Turner was born in Springfield, Missouri, the daughter of Patsy (née Magee) and Allen Richard Turner, who was a U.S. Foreign Service officer and schoolteacher; who grew up in China (where Turner's great-grandfather was a Methodist missionary). A diplomat, her father had been imprisoned by the Japanese for four years during the Second World War. As a child, Turner lived in Canada, Venezuela, the United Kingdom and was living in Cuba, at the time Castro came to power. Turner has two brothers and a sister. While attending high school in London, she was a gymnast and also took classes at the Central School of Speech and Drama.

In her early years, Turner was interested in performing. Her father did not encourage her: "My father was of missionary stock," she later explained, "so theater and acting were just one step up from being a streetwalker, you know? So when I was performing in school, he would drive my mom and sit in the car. She'd come out at intermissions and tell him, 'She's doing very well.'"

Turner graduated from the American School in London in 1972. Her father died of a coronary thrombosis the same year and the family moved back to the United States. She attended Missouri State University at Springfield for two years (where a fellow classmate was John Goodman), then earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 1977. During this time, she acted in several productions directed by Steve Yeager.

Career

Body Heat

In 1978, Turner made her television debut in the NBC daytime soap The Doctors as the second Nola Dancy Aldrich. She made her film debut in 1981 as the ruthless Matty Walker in the thriller Body Heat, this roll would shoot her to dizzy heights of internatinal fame and Turner would ultimately become one of the top box office draws and most sought after actresses in the 1980s and early 1990s, and went on to appear in Empire Magazine cited the film in 1995 when it named her one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History. The New York Times wrote in 2005 that, propelled by her "jaw-dropping movie debut [in] Body Heat... she built a career on adventurousness and frank sexuality borne of robust physicality."

The brazen quality of Turner's screen roles was reflected in her public life. With her deep voice, Turner was often compared to a young Lauren Bacall. When the two met, Turner reportedly introduced herself by saying, "Hi, I'm the young you. In the 1980s, she boasted that "on a night when I feel really good about myself, I can walk into a room, and if a man doesn't look at me, he's probably gay."

Eighties stardom

After Body Heat, Turner steered away from femme fatale roles to 'prevent typecasting' and because the femme fatale roles had a 'shelflife', consequently her first project after this was 1983 comedy 'The Man With Two Brains'. Turner starred in Romancing the Stone with Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito. Demanding film critic Pauline Kael wrote of her performance as writer Joan Wilder, "Turner knows how to use her dimples amusingly and how to dance like a woman who didn’t know she could; her star performance is exhilarating. Romancing the Stone was a surprise hit: she won a Golden Globe for her role in the film and it became one of the top-ten-grossing movies of 1984. Turner teamed up again with Douglas and DeVito the following year for its sequel, The Jewel of the Nile.

Several months before Jewel, Turner starred in Prizzi's Honor with Jack Nicholson, winning a second Golden Globe award, and later co-starred in Peggy Sue Got Married with Nicolas Cage. For Peggy Sue, she received a 1987 Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

In 1988's toon-noir Who Framed Roger Rabbit, she was the speaking voice of cartoon femme fatale Jessica Rabbit, intoning the famous line, "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way." Her uncredited, sultry performance was acclaimed as "the kind of sexpot ball-breaker she was made for. (Amy Irving provided Jessica Rabbit's singing voice in the scene in which the character first appears in the movie.)

Turner appeared in the 1980s song "The Kiss of Kathleen Turner" by Austrian techno-pop singer Falco. In 1989, Turner teamed up with Douglas and DeVito for a third time, in The War of the Roses. The New York Times praised the trio, saying that "Mr. Douglas and Ms. Turner have never been more comfortable a team ... each of them is at his or her comic best when being as awful as both are required to be here ... [Kathleen Turner is] evilly enchanting. In that film, Turner played a former gymnast, and, as in other roles, she did many of her own stunts. (She broke her nose filming 1991's V.I. Warshawski )

Slowed by disease

Turner remained an A-list film star leading lady until the early nineties when rheumatoid arthritis seriously restricted her activities. She was diagnosed in 1992, after suffering "unbearable" pain for about a year. By the time she was diagnosed, she "could hardly turn her head or walk, and was told she would end up in a wheelchair".

As the disease worsened, her career slid -- though Turner has also blamed her age, stating "when I was forty the roles started slowing down, I started getting offers to play mothers and grandmothers..." She appeared in the low-budget House of Cards, experienced moderate success with John Waters' Serial Mom, had supporting roles in A Simple Wish, The Real Blonde, and Sofia Coppola's acclaimed The Virgin Suicides.

Television

Despite drug therapy to help her condition, the disease progressed for about eight years. Then, thanks to newly-available treatments, her arthritis went into remission. She was seen increasingly on television, including two episodes of Friends, where she appeared as Chandler Bing's transsexual father. She also provided the voice of Malibu Stacy creator Stacy Lovell on the episode "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy" on The Simpsons. She played a defense attorney on Law & Order.

In 2006, Turner performed a cameo in FX's acclaimed Nip/Tuck, playing a phone sex operator in need of laryngeal surgery.

Voice actress

In the same year, she voiced the role of "Constance" in the animated film Monster House. She has also recently been doing radio commercial voice-overs for Lay's potato chips. Turner first came to prominence as a voice actress with the role of Jessica Rabbit in cartoon crossover Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. She also voiced Stacey, the creator of Malibu Stacey, as a guest star on The Simpsons.

Stage career

In recent years, Turner has found renewed success on stage. After 1990s roles in Broadway productions of Indiscretions and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (for which she earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress), Turner moved to London in 2000 to star in a stage version of The Graduate. The BBC reported that initially mediocre ticket sales for The Graduate "went through the roof when it was announced that Turner, then aged 45, would appear naked on stage". While her performance as the middle-aged Mrs. Robinson was popular with audiences (with sustained high box office for the duration of Turner's run), she received mixed reviews from critics. The play transferred to Broadway in 2002 to similar critical reaction.

In 2005, Kathleen Turner beat out a score of other contenders (including Jessica Lange, Frances McDormand, and Bette Midler) for the role of Martha in a 2005 Broadway revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

Albee later explained to the New York Times that when Turner read for the part with her eventual co-star Bill Irwin, he heard "an echo of the 'revelation' that he had felt years ago when the parts were read by [[Uta Hagen|[Uta] Hagen]] and Arthur Hill". He added that Turner had "a look of voluptuousness, a woman of appetites, yes ... but a look of having suffered as well".

Ben Brantley praised Turner at length, writing:

As the man-eating Martha, Ms. Turner, a movie star whose previous theater work has been variable, finally secures her berth as a first-rate, depth-probing stage actress ... [A]t 50, this actress can look ravishing and ravaged, by turns. In the second act, she is as predatorily sexy as she was in the movie Body Heat. But in the third and last act she looks old, bereft, stripped of all erotic flourish. I didn't think I would ever be able to see Virginia Woolf again without thinking of Ms. Hagen [Uta Hagen]. But watching Ms. Turner in that last act, fully clothed but more naked than she ever was in The Graduate, I didn't see the specter of Ms. Hagen. All I saw was Ms. Turner. No, let's be fair. All I saw was Martha.

As Martha, Turner received her second Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play. (She lost to Cherry Jones). The production was transferred to London's Apollo Theatre in 2006.

Legacy

The 1980s song "The Kiss of Kathleen Turner" by Austrian techno-pop singer Falco was in her honour.

She received a lifetime achievement award from the Savannah College of Art and Design at the Savannah Film Festival in October 2004.

Personal life

Turner married New York City real estate entrepreneur Jay Weiss in 1984; their daughter, Rachel Ann Weiss was born on October 14 1987. Turner was born into a Methodist family and has said that she has "taken on a certain amount of Jewish tradition and identity" since marrying her husband and raising their daughter in the Jewish religion. In 2006, Turner announced that she and Weiss were planning a trial separation. They were divorced in December 2007, but Turner has said, "He's still my best friend".

By the late 1980s, Turner had acquired a reputation for being difficult: what The New York Times called "a certifiable diva." She admitted that she was "not a very kind person" and actress Eileen Atkins has referred to her as "an amazing nightmare." According to her colleagues on Virginia Woolf, she has become easier to work with. Turner has also slammed Hollywood for a 'terrible double standard,' that makes it harder for actresses to get work as they get older.

As a result of her altered looks from her arthritis treatment, The New York Times wrote in 2005, "Rumors began circulating that she was drinking too much. She later said in interviews that she didn't bother correcting the rumors because people in show business hire drunks all the time, but not people who are sick". However, Turner has had well-publicized problems with alcohol, which she used as an escape from her rheumatoid arthritis.Turner has admitted that due to her illness she was in constant unbearable agony and that as a result the people she was closest to would suffer from it as she was constantly drinking to relieve the pain and it made her a very difficult person. A few weeks after leaving The Graduate in November 2002, Turner checked herself into Marworth in Waverly, Pennsylvania for alcohol abuse treatment. "I have no problem with alcohol when I'm working", she later explained. "It's when I'm home alone that I can't control my drinking ... I was going toward excess. I mean, really! I think I was losing my control over it. So it pulled me back."

Political involvement

Turner serves on the board of People for the American Way, is chairperson for Planned Parenthood of America, and supports Amnesty International, Childhelp USA, and Citymeals-on-Wheels. She was one of John Kerry's first celebrity endorsers. She has been a frequent donor to the Democratic Party. She has also worked to raise awareness of rheumatoid arthritis.

Memoirs/Interviews

Turner (in collaboration with Gloria Feldt) wrote her memoir Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on my Life, Love, and Leading Roles, published in 2008. Nicolas Cage filed suit against her for claiming he had been arrested for DUI twice and once stole a chihuahua he liked; Turner has since publicly apologised.

During an interview on The View, Turner apologized for any distress she may have caused Cage regarding an incident that took place twenty years earlier. When later questioned by TMZ, Turner claimed the statements weren't in the book, but was proven wrong when an enlarged image of the page she made the comments on was projected on the television screen. Regarding Burt Reynolds, Turner denied that they are enemies. She said that she was pregnant at the time, and that may have caused some stress between her and Reynolds; she also maintains that Reynolds' behaviour towards her was hostile ("a very rude man").

The book was on the "New York Times" bestseller list for 3 weeks.

Filmography

References

External links

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