Turner, Kathleen 1954- (Mary Kathleen Turner)

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Turner, Kathleen 1954- (Mary Kathleen Turner)


Born June 19, 1954, in Springfield, MO; daughter of Richard (a U.S. foreign service officer) Turner; married David Guc, 1977 (divorced, 1982); married Jay Weiss (a real estate developer), 1984 (divorced, 2007); children: Rachel Ann. Education: Attended Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield; University of Maryland, M.F.A., 1977; trained for the stage at Central School of Speech and Drama, London.


Home—New York, NY. Agent—International Creative Management, Chris Andrews, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA, 90211-1934.


Actress, producer, director, writer. Appearances on Broadway include Gemini, 1978; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1990; Indiscretions, 1995; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, 2005. Actress in films, including Body Heat, Warner Bros., 1981; The Man with Two Brains, Warner Bros., 1983; Romancing the Stone, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1984; Crimes of Passion, New World, 1984; A Breed Apart, Orion, 1984; Prizzi's Honor, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1985; The Jewel of the Nile, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1985; Peggy Sue Got Married, TriStar, 1986; (voice only) GoBots: War of the Rock Lords, 1986; Julia and Julia, Cinecom, 1987; Switching Channels, TriStar, 1988; (voice only) Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Buena Vista, 1988; The Accidental Tourist, Warner Bros., 1988; The War of the Roses, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1989; V.I. Warshawski, Buena Vista, 1991; Undercover Blues, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1993; House of Cards, 1993; Serial Mom, Savoy, 1994; Naked in New York, Fine Line, 1994; Moonlight and Valentino, Gramercy, 1995; A Simple Wish, Universal, 1997; (voice only) Bad Baby, Buena Vista, 1997; The Real Blonde, Paramount, 1998; Baby Geniuses, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 1999; Love and Action in Chicago, 1999; The Virgin Suicides, 1999; Prince of Central Park, 2000; Beautiful, Destination Films, 2000; Without Love, 2004; (voice only) Monster House, 2006.

Television appearances include The Doctors, NBC, 1978-79; (voice only) The Simpsons, 1994; Leslie's Folly, Showtime, 1994; (also producer) Friends at Last, CBS, 1995; Style and Substance, 1996; Love in the Ancient World, Arts and Entertainment, 1997; Legalese, 1998; Cinderella, 2000; (voice only) King of the Hill, 2000; Friends, 2001; Law & Order, 2006; Nip/Tuck, 2006.

Director of films, including Leslie's Folly, 1994; (play) Crimes of the Heart, 2008. Performed in radio shows with the BBC, 1992, 1993. Planned Parenthood Federation of America Board of Advocates, chair. Host of radio talk show, American Dialogue, 2003.


Best Actress, Los Angeles Film Critics, 1984, for Crimes of Passion and Romancing the Stone; Best Actress, Golden Globe, 1984, for Romancing the Stone, and 1985, for Prizzi's Honor; Best Actress, National Board of Review, 1986, for Peggy Sue Got Married; Margaret Sanger Award, Planned Parenthood Association of America, 2000; Woman of the World Award, Childhelp, 2001; Best Actress, Critics' Circle Theater Award, 2007, for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?


(With Gloria Feldt) Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles, Springboard (New York, NY), 2008.


"There's not, and never really has been, anything girlish about Kathleen Turner," remarked Entertainment Weekly contributor Karen Valby about the film star. "Turner first barreled into public consciousness in 1981, playing a sexy beast in Body Heat," Valby further noted. With her comedy-adventure turn in the 1984 Romancing the Stone, she became a true Hollywood star. As a Contemporary Newsmakers 1985 contributor noted, "Kathleen Turner has been hailed as a director's dream, a versatile and thoroughly professional performer with classic all-American looks." However, by the 1990s, Tuner's career was on a downward slide. Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 1993, she suffered for over a decade until a new course of treatment restored her health. In 2005 she scored a powerful comeback in her stage role of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and earned a Critics' Circle Theater Award for best actress. Three years later the actor and director turned author with the memoir Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles. Rosie Millard, writing in London's New Statesman, summed up Turner's career and life as one of contradictions: "Turner revels in her apparent contradictions. She is a film icon who insists she always wanted to be a great stage actress, a woman celebrated for her looks who readily admits that she is best known for being the voice of a rabbit in heels, an American who considers herself a world citizen and is toying with the idea of moving to Rome."

Born in Springfield, Missouri, Turner spent a peripatetic youth as the daughter of a foreign service employee, living at various times in Canada, Cuba, Venezuela, and London. It was in London that she fell in love with theater, going regularly to the West End, and where she first studied acting, at the Central School of Speech and Drama. However, with the death of her father when she was seventeen, Turner returned with her family to Missouri. Entering college at Southwest Missouri State University, she soon found the place too parochial and transferred to the University of Maryland. Upon graduation and with a theater degree in hand, Turner, like so many other hopeful actors, headed for New York City. There she found advertising work that led to a steady role on the soap opera The Doctors. She also earned her first role on Broadway, in the play Gemini. Her first big break was in the role of the seductress Matty in Body Heat, opposite William Hurt. Turner refused to be typecast as the sexy leading lady and next played a comedy role with Steve Martin in the 1983 film The Man with Two Brains. This earned Turner applause from film critics.

Married for the second time in 1984 (this marriage ended in 2007), Turner played another manipulative bombshell in Crimes of Passion, but in the popular comedy and adventure Romancing the Stone she played a repressed romance novelist who lets her hair down in the jungles of South America. She played opposite Michael Douglas and Danny De Vito, and would play again with them in the sequel, The Jewel of the Nile, the following year, and in the 1989 tale of divorce, The War of the Roses. In Prizzi's Honor Turner played a gorgeous killer, while in Peggy Sue Got Married, with Nicolas Cage, she was a bored homemaker who gets an opportunity to start afresh. Another high point for Turner was playing the voice of Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and then a suburban homemaker who goes manic on a killing spree in the John Waters send-up of the genre, Serial Mom.

Then came the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and years of pain. As she told People contributor Natasha Stoynoff: "What this disease does is … you always hurt. Always, always, always." Medicating herself with alcohol, Turner also began overdrinking and finally went into rehab for that addiction in 2002. Her daughter was only four at the time of the onset of the disease, and Turner tried her best to hide its ravages from her. For a decade she was treated with steroids and a form of chemotherapy that left her bloated and depressed. She continued to act, but it was not until the end of the 1990s that she found quality roles again, including in the 1999 feature The Virgin Suicides. She also continued to act in theater, as in the 1995 production of Indiscretions by Jean Cocteau and the 2002 production of The Graduate. Writing in Interview, Graham Fuller praised Turner for "investing the role [of Madeline Ethel Barrymore] with her natural ebullience and sexiness" in Indiscretions. Her star status was reestablished with her performance in the 2005 reprise of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, playing the role of Martha. Cathleen McGuigan, writing in Newsweek, lauded Turner's performance, noting that she played the role of Martha "with a combustible combo of vulgarity, cruelty, humor and sadness."

Turner made her debut as a theater director in the 2008 production of Crimes of the Heart. Speaking with Erik Piepenburg in the New York Times, Turner confessed to having reservations about taking on directorial duties: "I had fears, of course, and anxiousness about being able to handle the whole picture…. In fact I have found myself absolutely thrilled by all the detail. Fascinated. I feel like I'm acting six roles instead of one, and I love it." Throughout all the ups and downs of career and health, Turner has been a passionate advocate for women's rights, chairing the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and lobbying for that organization before Congress.

Turner recounts all this and much more in her memoir, Send Yourself Roses. Here she talks of her childhood and the many places she lived, of her early dreams of becoming an actress and of the devastating effect the death of her father had on her. She also tells tales of Hollywood types: how she and Burt Reynolds are implacable enemies, how Jack Nicholson was put off with her onscreen sexuality in Prizzi's Honor, and how—erroneously, it turned out—Nicolas Cage was arrested for drunkenness and stealing a dog during the filming of Peggy Sue Got Married. Cage sued, and Turner had to issue a retraction and apology, in addition to paying court fees and a contribution to Cage's favorite charity. A reviewer for Maclean's found Send Yourself Roses "scandalous," but Library Journal reviewer Rosellen Brewer felt that Turner's was the sort of celebrity biography "meant to impart wisdom." Brewer further commented, "[Turner] is one strong woman and likable in her confidence." For Reviewer's Bookwatch contributor Audrey Larson, this memoir was "an interesting book about [Turner's] life, stage roles, movies and activism." Larson went on to note that "Ms. Turner has a healthy ego, a strong belief in herself, firm beliefs and opinions, and does not hesitate to voice them." Less complimentary, however, was the assessment of a Kirkus Reviews critic who called the book "self-indulgent, rambling and intermittently diverting." A Publishers Weekly reviewer, however, praised the "great candor" Turner employs to describe some of her more difficult moments. The contributor added, "Turner's vision of life's many possibilities—even as she gets older—is surely inspiring." Similarly, Booklist contributor Mike Tribby thought that "fans should be satisfied and Hollywood history buffs entertained by this comprehensive self-revelation."



Contemporary Newsmakers 1985, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1986.

Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 50, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2003.

International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2000.

Turner, Kathleen, and Gloria Feldt, Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles, Springboard (New York, NY), 2008.


American Theatre, April, 2008, "20 Questions," p. 96.

Booklist, December 15, 2007, Mike Tribby, review of Send Yourself Roses, p. 15.

Entertainment Weekly, June 3, 2005, Karen Valby, "Bawdy Heat: Kathleen Turner—the Rip-Roaring Star of Broadway's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?—Holds Forth on Alcoholism, Her Down-and-Up-Again Career, and Why She'll Take Edward Albee over Eugene O'Neill Any Day," p. 56; February 15, 2008, Nicholas Fonseca, review of Send Yourself Roses, p. 69.

Gay & Lesbian Review, January 1, 2001, "Kathleen Turner," p. 37.

Interview, August, 1995, Graham Fuller, "Kathleen Turner," p. 66.

Library Journal, January 1, 2008, Rosellen Brewer, review of Send Yourself Roses, p. 104.

Maclean's, February 18, 2008, "Kathleen Turner: Are There Awards for Dishing the Dirt?," p. 66.

New Statesman, March 13, 2006, Rosie Millard, "Who's Afraid of Kathleen Turner?," p. 40.

Newsweek, April 4, 2005, Cathleen McGuigan, "Newsmakers," p. 61; February 25, 2008, "That Ms. Turner Can Still Turn Heads," p. 63.

New York Times, February 3, 2008, Erik Piepenburg, "C'mon. Would You Cross This Director?," p. 8; February 15, 2008, "Sisterhood Is Complicated," p. 1; April 5, 2008, "Turner Apologizes," p. 8.

People, April 25, 1994, "Diary of a Mad Housewife," p. 112; February 14, 2000, "Pop Quiz with Kathleen Turner," p. 20; April 25, 2005, Natasha Stoynoff, "A Painful Secret: After Battling Arthritis and Alcohol, Kathleen Turner Stands Tall in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," p. 127.

Publishers Weekly, January 14, 2008, review of Send Yourself Roses, p. 51.

Reviewer's Bookwatch, April, 2008, Audrey Larson, review of Send Yourself Roses.

Time International, June 9, 2003, "People," p. 66.


Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (August 18, 2008), "Kathleen Turner."

Kathleen Turner Home Page,http://www.kathleenturner.com (August 18, 2008)

MSNBC.com,http://www.msnbc.msn.com/ (February 13, 2008), "Kathleen Turner Pens Memoir."

New York Post Online,http://www.nypost.com/ (June 23, 2008), "Cranky Kathleen Rips Co-stars."

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Turner, Kathleen 1954- (Mary Kathleen Turner)

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