Duvall, Shelley (Alexis) 1949-

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DUVALL, Shelley (Alexis) 1949-


Born July 7, 1949, in Fort Worth, TX; daughter of Robert (a lawyer) and Bobby (a real estate broker; maiden name, Crawford) Duvall; married Bernard Sampson, 1973 (divorced, 1977. Education:Studied nutrition and diet therapy at South Texas Junior College.


Home—Houston, TX. Agent—Gersh Agency, 232 North Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210.


Actress and producer. Founder of Think! Entertainment, 1988, Amarillo Productions, and Platypus Productions. Executive producer of television programming, including series Faerie Tale Theatre, Showtime, 1982-87; Shelley Duvall's Tall Tales and Legends, Showtime, 1985-87; Nick Jr. Rocks, Nickelodeon, 1991; Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories, Show-time, 1991-96; and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Showtime, 1993-95; also executive producer of television films, including Dinner at Eight, Turner Network Television (TNT), 1989; Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme, Disney Channel, 1990; and Backfield in Motion, American Broadcasting Companies (ABC), 1991; and executive producer of series episodes, pilots, and specials. Actress in films, including Brewster McCloud, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), 1970; McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Warner Bros., 1971; Thieves like Us, United Artists, 1974; Nashville, Paramount, 1975; Buffalo Bill and the Indians; or, Sitting Bull's History Lesson, United Artists, 1976; Three Women, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1977; Annie Hall, United Artists, 1977; Popeye, Paramount, 1979; The Shining, Warner Bros., 1980; Time Bandits, Embassy, 1981; Frankenweenie, 1984; Roxanne, Columbia, 1987; Suburban Commando, New Line, 1991; The Underneath (also known as Present Tense), Gramercy Pictures, 1995; The Portrait of a Lady, Gramercy Pictures, 1996; Changing Habits, A-PIX Entertainment, 1996; Twilight of the Ice Nymphs, Alliance International, 1997; Shadow Zone: My Teacher Ate My Homework, 1997; Rocket Man, Buena Vista, 1997; Guy Maddin: Waiting for Twilight (documentary), 1997; Russell Mulcahy's "Tale of the Mummy" (also known as Talos the Mummy), Buena Vista, 1998; Home Fries, Warner Bros., 1998; The Fourth Floor, 1999; Boltneck, 2000; Dreams in the Attic, 2000; Manna from Heaven, 2001; Under the Mimosa, 2001; Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (documentary), 2001; and Dark Water, 2004. Also actress in numerous television series, episodes, specials, and documentaries. Narrator for sound recordings, including Hello, I'm Shelley Duvall: Merry Christmas, BMG Music (Santa Monica, CA), 1992; Hello, I'm Shelley Duvall: Sweet Dreams, Kid Rhino (Santa Monica, CA), 1991; The Animal Express, MCA Records (Universal City, CA), 1992; Shelley Duvall's It's a Bird's Life, Sanctuary Woods (San Mateo, CA), 1993; and Digby's Adventures (CD), Sanctuary Woods (San Mateo, CA), 1994.


Screen Actors Guild, National Association of Cable Programming (member of board of governors).


Best Actress Award, Cannes Film Festival, and Best Actress Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, both 1977, for Three Women; Parents' Choice award, 1986, for Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre; Emmy Award nomination for best children's program, 1988, for Shelley Duvall's Tall Tales and Legends; Golden Halo Award, Southern California Motion Picture Council, 1982, for Faerie Tale Theatre; Bronze Halo Award, Southern California Motion Picture Council, 1982, for excellence in acting and contributions to the entertainment industry; special citation for achievements and commitment to quality television production for children, Chicago International Festival of Children's Films, 1985; Faerie Tale Theatre was accepted into the permanent collection of the Museum of Broadcasting, 1989; CableAce Award for children's programming, for Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories; Peabody Award, for Faerie Tale Theatre.


Digby's Adventures (CD-ROM; for children), Sanctuary Woods (San Mateo, CA), 1994.

Also author of live action sequences, and composer of "Humpty's Theme," for Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories, 1991-96.


Many of Duvall's children's programs have been adapted for videotape and CD-ROM, including segments of her Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories, MCA/Universal.


Actress and producer Shelley Duvall, who is named after the author of Frankenstein, began her successful performing career after film directorRobert Altman discovered her selling cosmetics in Houston, Texas, and cast her in his movie Brewster McCloud. The wide-eyed, pencil-slim Duvall became an Altman regular, acting next in McCabe and Mrs. Miller, opposite Julie Christie and Warren Beatty. Her first starring role was in Altman's Thieves like Us, with Keith Carradine, a film that was a hit with Altman fans. The film, about a Depression-era couple who rob banks, was widely admired by critics as an unsentimentalized and well-acted story. Duvall appeared in two more Altman films, Nashville and Buffalo Bill and the Indians, before beginning to work with other directors. Nashville won a great many awards and put Duvall in the spotlight, along with Carradine and Lily Tomlin. Since then, she has appeared in numerous films and has become a prominent name in children's television as executive producer of such acclaimed series as Faerie Tale Theatre and Shelley Duvall's Tall Tales and Legends.

One of Duvall's early television performances was in Bernice Bobs Her Hair, a dramatization of F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story about a flapper trying to fit in with her jazz age friends. She also played a small part in the then-unknown Woody Allen's Oscar-winning Annie Hall and then acted in Altman's Three Women. Her interpretation of Millie Lammoreaux, a chatty, self-absorbed worker in a senior center, earned Duvall a Best Actress award at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival and from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

Duvall had been briefly married during the 1970s, and although she never had children, she loves and collects children's books. She easily stepped into the realm of children's literature and played the title characters of a number of classics that were recreated for television on Faerie Tale Theatre, produced for Showtime by Duvall. The witty retellings were cast with top-notch actors, such as James Earl Jones, Robin Williams, Pee Wee Herman, Christopher Reeve, Jamie Lee Curtis, Eric Idle, Teri Garr, Valerie Bertinelli, and Leonard Nimoy, to name only a few, who took roles as princes, princesses, and ogres, and attracted acclaimed directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Tim Burton, and Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who directed individual episodes. One of the first installments, "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," starred the young Tatum O'Neal, daughter of actor Ryan O'Neal. In reviewing the series, Walter Podrazik and Harry Castleman wrote in Harry and Wally's Favorite TV Shows that "the writing is splendid … the stories are told with a lovely mix of respect for tradition and the tone of modern sensibilities." They further said that Duvall "deserves the major credit for the quality of the series."

Popeye, a live-action movie version of the comic strip that also starred Robin Williams as the title character, was considered a failure, but Duvall's portrayal of Olive Oyl was praised. She also appeared on popular series and as a program host for such shows as Saturday Night Live. In 1980 she appeared in a production that would become her signature film, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. Duvall plays the victimized wife of axe-wielding Jack Nicholson when they are isolated during a snow storm while acting as caretakers for a mountain resort. The filming was made difficult by the fact that Kubrick demanded more than one hundred takes for some scenes. Although the film itself received mixed reviews, Duvall's performance was deemed outstanding.

Duvall also had a role in Time Bandits, directed by Terry Gilliam, and Frankenweenie, directed by Burton, before returning to television to produce Shelley Duvall Presents American Tall Tales and Legends. The show was a hit, and it also attracted major stars, including Molly Ringwald, Martin Short, and Rob Reiner. After appearing in another movie, Roxanne, she returned to producing programs for children with her Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, as well as an adult series, Nightmare Classics, while continuing to make guest appearances in popular series, television specials, and award programs.

To facilitate her children's and family-oriented projects, Duvall founded her own production companies, Platypus Productions, Amarillo Productions, and Think! Entertainment. She has also written and narrated an interactive CD, Digby's Adventures, which includes three animated, interactive stories featuring a tiny dog and his collection of animal friends. The CD also contains games, sing-along tunes, and animated surprises and sounds to appeal to a preschool audience.

In another project, Duvall worked with director Jane Campion in The Portrait of a Lady, an adaptation of Henry James's 1881 novel that stars Nicole Kidman. She followed this with films such as Rocket Man, Home Fries, Dreams in the Attic, and others, and she has continued to act and produce for television. Furthermore, Duvall has lent her talents to a number of documentaries, including Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures a tribute to the producer that was released in 2001, two years after his death.



Podrazik, Walter, and Harry Castleman, Harry and Wally's Favorite TV Shows, Prentice Hall (New York, NY), 1989.


Booklist, December 1, 1994, Irene Wood, review of Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories: Moe the Dog in Tropical Paradise/Amos, the Story of an Old Dog and His Couch, p. 690.

People, December 16, 1996, Jeff Schnaufer, "The Name's the Same," p. 26.

Texas Monthly, July, 1999, Anne Dingus, "Shelley Duvall," p. 152.*