Burstyn won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1974 for her performance in the movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, directed by Martin Scorsese. She received her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 1971 for the film The Last Picture Show, and was subsequently nominated for Best Actress in 1973 for the horror movie The Exorcist, in 1978 for Same Time, Next Year, in 1980 for Resurrection, and for Requiem for a Dream in 2000.
In the early to mid 1960's, Burstyn played Dr. Kate Bartok on the NBC soap opera, The Doctors. She worked on several primetime television shows of the 1960s, including guest appearances on Perry Mason, Maverick, Wagon Train, 77 Sunset Strip, The Big Valley and Gunsmoke. She hosted Saturday Night Live in 1980. In 1986, she had her own ABC sitcom, The Ellen Burstyn Show costarring Megan Mullally as her daughter and Elaine Stritch as her mother. It was canceled after one season. From 2000 to 2002, Burstyn appeared in the CBS television drama That's Life. In 2006, she starred as a bishop in the controversial NBC comedy-drama The Book of Daniel.
Burstyn's most recent film appearance was in The Fountain, directed by Darren Aronofsky, with whom she worked in Requiem for a Dream. She also appeared on a 2007 episode of the HBO series Big Love, playing the mother of Polygamist wife Barbara Henrickson.
In 2008, Burstyn returned to the stage in Stephen Adly Guirgis's The Little Flower of East Orange, directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman in a co-production by LAByrinth Theater Company and The Public Theater in New York City. The off-Broadway production ran from March 18 - May 4. Burstyn played the title role of Marie Therese. In addition to her stage work, Burstyn will portray former First Lady Barbara Bush in director Oliver Stone's upcoming film W. She will also guest star in the tenth season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, as the estranged mother of Detective Elliot Stabler.
In 2006, she was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Special for HBO's Mrs Harris as Dr. Tarnower's "Ex-Lover #3." (She had played the title character in The People vs Mrs Jean Harris). She was nominated for a performance that consisted of 14 seconds of screen time, two lines of dialogue and a total of 38 words. This is the shortest nominated performance in the history of the Emmy Awards.
Soon after the nominations were announced, an outcry ensued from the press and the public regarding the worthiness of the nomination. One explanation for the nomination was that people were honoring Burstyn for her nominated but non-winning performance from the first Harris telefilm. A more popular accusation was that the nominating committee was either confused in their recollection, or merely "threw in" her name from sheer recognition, assuming a worthy performance without actually seeing it.
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences initially insisted that "based on the popular vote, this is a legitimate nomination." Meanwhile, HBO deflected the blame for submitting the nomination to the movie production company. Burstyn's own reaction ranged from initial silence to:
I thought it was fabulous. My next ambition is to get nominated for seven seconds, and ultimately I want to be nominated for a picture in which I don't even appear.
to this final quote:
This doesn't have anything to do with me. I don't even want to know about this. You people work it out yourself.Ultimately, Kelly Macdonald, who starred in The Girl in the Cafe, won the award. In March 2007, the Academy officially announced that eligibility for a Primetime Emmy Award in any long-form supporting-actor category required nominees to appear on-screen in at least 10 percent of the project (9 minutes in a typical 90-minute telefilm).
Many critics still cite this incident to criticize the Emmy nomination process, claiming that name recognition has played an increasingly visible role over the years.
In 1981, Burstyn recorded "The Ballad of the Nazi Soldier's Wife" (Kurt Weill's musical setting of Bertolt Brecht's text "Und was bekam des Soldaten Weib?") for Ben Bagley's album Kurt Weill Revisited, Vol. 2. Burstyn served as president of the Actors' Equity Association from 1982 to 1985.
She is currently unmarried.
Burstyn practices Sufism. She is affiliated with the Maezumi Institute (Zen Peacemakers) and says her spiritual journey was inspired by the book The Last Barrier: A Journey Through the World of Sufi Teaching.
|1964||Goodbye Charlie||Franzie Salzman|
|For Those Who Think Young||Dr. Pauline Thayer|
|1969||The Winner||Ellen McLeod|
|1970||Alex in Wonderland||Beth Morrison|
|Tropic of Cancer||Mona Miller|
|1971||The Last Picture Show||Lois Farrow||Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress; Nominated - Golden Globe Award|
|1972||The King of Marvin Gardens||Sally|
|1973||The Exorcist||Chris MacNeil||Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress|
Nominated - Golden Globe Award
|1974||Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore||Alice Hyatt||Academy Award for Best Actress|
BAFTA Award Nominated - Golden Globe Award
|Harry and Tonto||Shirley Mallard|
|Thursday's Game||Lynne Evers||TV|
|1978||A Dream of Passion||Brenda|
|Same Time, Next Year||Doris||Golden Globe Award Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress|
|1980||Resurrection||Edna Mae McCauley||Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress|
Nominated - Golden Globe Award
|1981||Silence of the North||Olive Frederickson|
|The People vs. Jean Harris||Jean Harris||TV; Nominated - Golden Globe Award|
|1984||The Ambassador||Alex Hacker|
|1985||Into Thin Air||Joan Walker||TV|
|Twice in a Lifetime||Kate MacKenzie|
|1986||The Ellen Burstyn Show||Ellen Brewer||TV|
|Act of Vengeance||Margaret Yablonski||TV|
|Something in Common||Lynn Hollander||TV|
|1987||Look away||Mary Todd Lincoln||TV|
|Pack of Lies||Barbara Jackson||TV|
|1990||When You Remember Me||Nurse Cooder||TV|
|1991||Grand Isle||Mademoiselle Reisz|
|Dying Young||Mrs. O'Neil|
|Mrs. Lambert Remembers Love||Lillian "Lil" Lambert||TV|
|1992||Taking Back My Life: The Nancy Ziegenmeyer Story||Wilma||TV|
|1993||Shattered Trust: The Shari Karney Story||Joan Delvecchio||TV|
|The Cemetery Club||Esther Moskowitz|
|1994||Trick of the Eye||Frances Griffin||TV|
|Getting Gotti||Jo Giaclone||TV|
|When a Man Loves a Woman||Emily|
|Getting Out||Arlie's Mother||TV|
|The Color of Evening||Kate O'Reilly|
|1995||How to Make an American Quilt||Hy Dodd|
|The Baby-Sitters Club||Emily Haberman|
|Follow the River||Gretel||TV|
|My Brother's Keeper||Helen||TV|
|Our Son, the Matchmaker||TV|
|The Spitfire Grill||Hannah Ferguson|
|A Deadly Vision||Yvette Watson||TV|
|1998||Playing by Heart||Mildred|
|The Patron Saint of Liars||June Clatterbuck||TV|
|You Can Thank Me Later||Shirley Cooperberg|
|1999||Walking Across Egypt||Mattie Rigsbee|
|Night Ride Home||Maggie||TV|
|Requiem for a Dream||Sara Goldfarb||Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress|
Nominated - Golden Globe Award
|The Yards||Val Handler|
|2001||Within These Walls||Joan Thomas||TV|
|2002||Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood||Viviane Joan 'Vivi' Abbott Walker|
|2003||Brush with Fate||Rika||TV|
|2004||The Five People You Meet in Heaven||Ruby||TV|
|The Madam's Family: The Truth About the Canal Street Brothel||Tommie||TV|
|2005||Mrs. Harris||Ex-lover #3|
|Down in the Valley||Ma|
|Our Fathers||Mary Ryan||TV|
|2006||The Fountain||Dr. Lilian Guzetti|
|The Wicker Man||Sister Summersisle|
|The Elephant King||Diana Hunt|
|2007||The Stone Angel||Hagar|
|Mitch Albom's For One More Day||Pauline Benetto||TV|
|2008||The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond||Miss Adie||awaiting release|
|Our Lady of Victory||Mother St. John||awaiting release|