Burstyn, Ellen 1932–

views updated Jun 11 2018

Burstyn, Ellen 1932–

(Erica Dean, Keri Flynn, Ellen McRae, Edna Rae)


Original name, Edna Rae Gillooly; born December 7, 1932, in Detroit, MI; daughter of John Austin (a building contractor) and Correine Marie (maiden name, Hamel) Gillooly; married William C. Alexander (a poet), 1950 (divorced 1955); married Paul Roberts (a director), 1957 (divorced 1959); married Neil Burstyn (an actor), 1960 (divorced 1971); children: (third marriage) Jefferson. Education: Attended Cass Technical High School, Detroit, MI; studied acting with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio and with Stella Adler; also attended the Directing Workshop for Women at the American Film Institute.

Addresses: Agent—Todd Smith, Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Manager—Benderspink, 110 South Fairfax Ave., Suite 350, Los Angeles, CA 90036.

Career: Actress. Appeared in television commercials. Actors Studio, New York City, artistic director (with others), c. 1982–88, president (with others), beginning 2000; panelist, National Endowment for the Arts and the Theatre Advisory Council of New York. Berlin International Film Festival, Berlin, head of the jury, 1977 and 1988; Cannes International Film Festival, Cannes, France, member of the jury, 1981. New School for Social Research, New York City, instructor. Using the name Keri Flynn, worked as a dancer in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; using the name Edna Rae, worked as a model in New York and Texas. Speaker at various venues. Worked as a photographer, a fashion coordinator, and a cook, and also at a soda fountain. Ordained cheraga (minister) for a Western Sufi order.

Member: Actors' Equity Association (president, 1982–85), Screen Actors Guild.

Awards, Honors: New York Film Critics Circle Award, best supporting actress, 1971, National Society of Film Critics Award, best supporting actress, Academy Award nomination, best actress in a supporting role, and Golden Globe Award nomination, best supporting actress—motion picture, all 1972, all for The Last Picture Show; Academy Award nomination, best actress in a leading role, and Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress—drama, both 1974, for The Exorcist; Antoinette Perry Award, best actress in a play, Drama Desk Award, outstanding actress in a play, and Outer Critics Circle Award (with others), ensemble playing, all 1975, for the stage version of Same Time, Next Year; Academy Award, best actress in a leading role, 1975, Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress—drama, 1975, and Film Award, best actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1976, all for Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More; Golden Globe Award, best motion picture actress—musical/comedy, 1979, Academy Award nomination, best actress in a leading role, 1979, and Marquee Award nomination, best actress, American Movie awards, 1980, all for the film version of Same Time, Next Year; Academy Award nomination, best actress in a leading role, Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress—drama, and Saturn Award nomination, best actress, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films, all 1981, for Resurrection; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding lead actress in a limited series or a special, 1981, and Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a miniseries or motion picture made for television, 1982, both for The People vs. Jean Harris; Genie Award nomination, best performance by a foreign actress, Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, 1982, for Silence of the North; honorary degrees include D.H.L., Dowling College, 1983, and D.F.A., School of Visual Arts, New York City, 1983; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or special, 1987, for "Pack of Lies," Hallmark Hall of Fame; Berlinale Camera Award, Berlin International Film Festival, 1988; Special Achievement Award, Retirement Research Foundation, 1996; Career Achievement Award, National Board of Review, 2000; Film Excellence Award, Boston Film Festival, 2000; Chicago Film Critics Association Award, Boston Society of Film Critics Award, Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award, Florida Film Critics Circle Award, Southeastern Film Critics Association Award, Sierra Award, Las Vegas Film Critics Society, Stockholm Film Festival Award, New York Film Critics Online Award, and Online Film Critics Society Award, all best actress, 2000, Golden Satellite Award, best performance by an actress in a motion picture, drama, International Press Academy, 200 Phoenix Film Critics Society Award, best actress in a leading role, 2000, Independent Spirit Award, best female lead, Academy Award nomination, best actress in a leading role, Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a motion picture—drama, Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, outstanding performance by a female actor in a leading role, Saturn Award nomination, best actress, and Chlotrudis Award nomination, best actress, all 2001, all for Requiem for a Dream; Daytime Emmy Award nomination, outstanding performer in a children's special, 2001, for Mermaid; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries or movie, 2006, for Mrs. Harris.


Film Appearances:

(As Ellen McRae) Franny Salzman, Goodbye, Charlie, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1964.

(As Ellen McRae) Dr. Pauline Thayer, For Those Who Think Young, United Artists, 1965.

(As Ellen McRae) Ellen McLeod, Pit Stop (also known as The Winner), Crown International Pictures, 1969.

(As Ellen McRae) Mona Miller, Tropic of Cancer, Paramount, 1969.

Beth, Alex in Wonderland, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1970.

Lois Farrow, The Last Picture Show, Columbia, 1971.

Sally, The King of Marvin Gardens, Columbia, 1972.

Mrs. Chris MacNeil, The Exorcist (also known as William Peter Blatty's "The Exorcist'), Warner Bros., 1973, also released as The Exorcist: The Version You Haven't Seen Yet and The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen, Warner Bros., 2000.

Alice Hyatt, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Warner Bros., 1974.

Shirley, Harry and Tonto, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1974.

Sonia Langham, Providence, Almi Cinema V, 1977.

Brenda Collins, A Dream of Passion (also known as Kravyi yinekon), Avco-Embassy Pictures, 1978.

Doris, Same Time, Next Year, Universal, 1978.

Edna Rae McCauley, Resurrection, Universal, 1980.

Herself, Acting: Lee Strasberg and the Actors Studio (documentary), 1981.

Herself, Sois belle et tais-toi (documentary), 1981.

Olive Frederickson, Silence of the North, Universal, 1981.

Herself, In Our Hands (documentary), Almi Classics, 1983.

Alex Hacker, The Ambassador (also known as The Peacemaker), Cannon, 1984.

(In archive footage) Mrs. Chris MacNeil, Terror in the Aisles (also known as Time for Terror), Universal, 1984.

Kate Mackenzie, Twice in a Lifetime, Yorkin Company, 1985.

Alamo Bay, TriStar, 1985.

Katarina Senesh (some sources say Katalin), Hanna's War, Cannon, 1988.

Balls of Grace (short documentary), 1988.

Herself, Picture This: The Times of Peter Bogdanovich in Archer City, Texas (documentary), Unapix Entertainment, 1991.

Mrs. O'Neil, Dying Young, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1991.

Esther Moskowitz, The Cemetery Club (also known as Looking for a Live One), Buena Vista, 1993.

Emily, When a Man Loves a Woman (also known as Significant Other and To Have and to Hold), Buena Vista, 1994.

Kate O'Reilly, The Color of Evening, August Entertainment, 1994.

Emily Haberman, The Baby-Sitters Club, Columbia, 1995.

Hy Dodd (Finn's grandmother), How to Make an American Quilt (also known as An American Quilt), Universal, 1995.

Judith, Roommates, Buena Vista, 1995.

Hannah Ferguson, The Spitfire Grill (also known as Care of the Spitfire Grill), Columbia, 1996.

Mary Davis, Cross the Line, Esperanza Films, 1996.

Maura O'Connor, Full Court Press, 1997.

Mook, Deceiver (also known as Liar), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1997.

Narrator, Mary Jane Colter: The Desert View (documentary), Lucerne Media, 1997.

Mildred, Playing by Heart (also known as Dancing about Architecture and If They Only Knew), Miramax, 1998.

Shirley Cooperberg, You Can Thank Me Later, Cinequest/Flashpoint, 1998.

(In archive footage) Herself, The Hurricane, Universal, 1999.

Val Handler, The Yards, Miramax, 1999.

Sara Goldfarb, Requiem for a Dream (also known as Delusion over Addiction), Artisan Entertainment, 2000.

Viviane Joan "Vivi" Abbott Walker, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Warner Bros., 2002.

Voice, Distance (short film), 2002.

(Uncredited) Voice of Grandma Dolarhyde, Red Dragon (also known as Roter Drache), Universal, 2002.

Herself, A Decade under the Influence (documentary), IFC Films, 2003.

Ma, Down in the Valley, ThinkFilm, 2005.

Diana Hunt, The Elephant King (also known as The Cool Season and Summer in Siam), Unison Films/De Warrenne Pictures, 2006.

Herself, Hubert Selby, Jr.: It'll Be Better Tomorrow (documentary), Squitten Pix, 2006.

Lilian, The Fountain (also known as The Last Man), Warner Bros., 2006.

Maura, 30 Days (also known as Cross the Line), Xenon Pictures, 2006.

Sister Summersisle, The Wicker Man, Warner Bros., 2006.

Film Work:

Director, Balls of Grace (short documentary), 1988.

Affiliated with the production of the film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Warner Bros., 1974.

Television Appearances; Series:

(As Erica Dean) Dancer, The Jackie Gleason Show, CBS, 1956–57.

(As Ellen McRae) Dr. Kate Bartok, The Doctors, NBC, 1964–65.

(As Ellen McRae) Julie Parsons, The Iron Horse, ABC, 1966–67.

Ellen Brewer, The Ellen Burstyn Show, ABC, 1986–87.

Dolly DeLucca, That's Life, CBS, 2000–2002.

Bishop Beatrice Congreve, The Book of Daniel, NBC, 2006.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Veronica Steward, A Will of Their Own (also known as Daughters of the New World), NBC, 1998.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Gunfight in Black Horse Canyon (also known as Assignment in Gloribee), 1961.

Lynne Evers, Thursday's Game (also known as The Berk), ABC, 1974.

Jean Harris, The People vs. Jean Harris, NBC, 1981.

Joan Walker, Into Thin Air (also known as Brian Walker, Please Come Home), CBS, 1985.

Tina Brogan, Surviving (also known as Surviving: A Family in Crisis and Tragedy), ABC, 1985.

Lynn Hollander, Something in Common (also known as Love Forty), CBS, 1986.

Margaret Yablonski, Act of Vengeance, HBO, 1986.

Nurse Cooder, When You Remember Me (also known as The Amazing Legacy of Michael Patrick Smith, The Legacy, and The Legacy of Michael Patrick Smith), ABC, 1990.

Lillian "Lil" Lambert, Mrs. Lambert Remembers Love (also known as Running Out), CBS, 1991.

Mademoiselle Reisz, Grand Isle (also known as The Awakening), TNT, 1992.

Wilma, Taking Back My Life: The Nancy Ziegenmeyer Story (also known as The Rape of Nancy Ziegenmeyer and Taking Back My Life), CBS, 1992.

Joan Delvecchio, Shattered Trust: The Shari Karney Story (also known as Conspiracy of Silence: The Shari Karney Story and Shattered Trust), NBC,1993.

Arlie's mother, Getting Out, ABC, 1994.

Frances Griffin, Trick of the Eye (also known as Primal Secrets), CBS, 1994.

Jo Giacalone, Getting Gotti (also known as Diane Giacalone: The John Gotti Story and The Diane Giacalone Story), CBS, 1994.

Gretel, "Follow the River," ABC Family Movie, ABC, 1995.

Helen, My Brother's Keeper, CBS, 1995.

Iva Mae Longwell, Our Son, the Matchmaker, CBS, 1996.

Maud Gannon, Timepiece, CBS, 1996.

Yvette Watson, A Deadly Vision (also known as Love Kills and Murder in Mind), ABC, 1997.

June Clatterbuck, The Patron Saint of Liars, CBS, 1998.

Laura Strong, "Flash," The Wonderful World of Disney, ABC, 1998.

Trish Gill, Mermaid, Showtime, 2000.

Joan Thomas, Within These Walls, Lifetime, 2001.

Mattie Rigsbee, Walking across Egypt, The Hallmark Channel, 2001.

Mother, Dodson's Journey, CBS, 2001.

Ruby, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, ABC, 2004.

Tommie Taylor, The Madam's Family: The Truth about the Canal Street Brothel, CBS, 2004.

Mary Ryan, Our Fathers, Showtime, 2005.

Third ex-lover, Mrs. Harris, HBO, 2005.

Television Appearances; Specials:

(As Ellen McRae) Elizabeth, "The Christmas Tree," Hallmark Hall of Fame, 1958.

Herself, Broadway Plays Washington on Kennedy Center Tonight (also known as Broadway Plays Washington!), PBS, 1982.

Herself, I Love Liberty, ABC, 1982.

Herself, Night of 100 Stars II (also known as Night of One Hundred Stars), ABC, 1985.

The ABC Fall Preview Special, ABC, 1986.

Barbara Jackson, "Pack of Lies," Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS, 1987.

Herself, Hello Actors Studio (documentary), 1987.

Mary Todd Lincoln, Look Away, PBS, 1987.

Voice of Mrs. Stocks, Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam (also known as Dear America), HBO, 1988.

From the Heart: The First International Very Special Arts Festival (also known as The Very Special Arts Festival), NBC, 1989.

Host and narrator, Child Care: Families in the Balance, PBS, 1990.

Miracle on 44th Street: A Portrait of the Actors Studio, PBS, 1991.

Narrator in passage, When It Was a Game 2, HBO, 1992.

Voice, Earth and the American Dream, HBO, 1993.

Narrator, "Telegrams from the Dead," The American Experience, PBS, 1994.

Presenter and narrator, Choosing One's Way: Resistance in Auschwitz/Birkenau (documentary), 1994.

Narrator, The Roots of Roe, PBS, 1997.

Herself, The Fear of God: The Making of "The Exorcist' (documentary), BBC, 1998.

Maggie, "Night Ride Home," Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS, 1999.

Herself, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (documentary), BBC and Trio Television, 2003.

Rika, "Brush with Fate" (also known as "The Girl in Hyacinth Blue"), Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS, 2003.

Herself, Inside the Actors Studio: 10th Anniversary Special, Bravo, 2004.

Herself, Stardust: The Bette Davis Story, TCM, 2006.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

Cohost, The 49th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1977.

Presenter, The 33rd Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 1979.

Cohost, The 35th Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 1981.

The 53rd Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1981.

The 38th Annual Academy Awards, CBS, 1981.

An American Tribute to Vaclav Havel and a Celebration of Democracy in Czechoslovakia, PBS, 1990.

The 47th Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 1993.

The 65th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1993.

The American Film Institute Salute to Jack Nicholson (also known as The AFI Salute to Jack Nicholson), CBS, 1994.

The 70th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1998.

Presenter, Seventh Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (also known as Screen Actors Guild Seventh Annual Awards), TNT, 2001.

The 73rd Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2001.

The 2001 IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards, Independent Film Channel, 2001.

Presenter, 17th Annual IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards, Independent Film Channel, 2002.

16th Annual Genesis Awards, Animal Planet, 2002.

Presenter, The 61st Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 2004.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

"The Human Trap," Naked City, ABC, 1960.

Anne, "Second Chance," Dr. Kildare, NBC, 1961.

(As Ellen McRae) Ann Walters, "Woodlot," Letter to Loretta (also known as The Loretta Young Show and The Loretta Young Theatre), NBC, 1961.

(As Ellen McRae) Betty Benson, "The Navy Caper," 77 Sunset Strip, ABC, 1961.

(As Ellen McRae) Carol, "Strike Out," Michael Shayne, NBC, 1961.

(As Ellen McRae) Emily Todd, "Benefit of the Doubt," Maverick, ABC, 1961.

(As Ellen McRae) Emmy Mae, "Day's Pay," Cheyenne, ABC, 1961.

(As Ellen McRae) Rose Maxon, "Ricochet," The Dick Powell Show (also known as The Dick Powell Theatre), NBC, 1961.

Wanda Drake, "Double Image," Surfside 6, ABC, 1961.

(As Ellen McRae) Connie, "In the Name of Love, a Small Corruption," Ben Casey, ABC, 1962.

(As Ellen McRae) Dr. Fraser, "Preferably, the Less-Used Arm," Ben Casey, ABC, 1962.

Dorothy Carter (a veterinarian), "The Girl Veterinarian," The Real McCoys (also known as The McCoys), ABC, 1962.

Girl, "A Splinter Off the Old Block," Dobie Gillis (also known as The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis), CBS, 1962.

Joan, "Harry, the Father Image," I'm Dickens … He's Fenster, ABC, 1962.

(As Ellen McRae) Margo, "The Bold and the Tough," Checkmate, CBS, 1962.

(As Ellen McRae) Mona Winthrope White, "The Case of the Dodging Domino," Perry Mason, CBS, 1962.

(As Ellen McRae) Nora Carver, "The Walls Have Eyes," The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor (also known as Robert Taylor's Detectives, The Detectives, and The Detectives, Starring Robert Taylor), NBC, 1962.

(As Ellen McRae) Phyllis Dunning, "Cry to Heaven," Bus Stop, ABC, 1962.

(As Ellen McRae) Polly Mims, "Wagon Girls," Gunsmoke (also known as Gun Law and Marshal Dillon), CBS, 1962.

(As Ellen McRae) "Cry Ruin," Kraft Mystery Theatre (also known as Kraft Television Theatre and Kraft Theatre), NBC, 1962.

"The Walls Have Eyes," Tales of Wells Fargo, NBC, 1962.

(As Ellen McRae) Hilda Wesley, "The Heathen," The Defenders, CBS, 1963.

(As Ellen McRae) Margaret, "The Jim Whitlow Story," Wagon Train (also known as Major Adams, Trail Master), ABC, 1963.

(As Ellen McRae) Sandra Keene, "Dial 'S' for Spencer," 77 Sunset Strip, ABC, 1963.

"Hear No Evil," Going My Way, ABC, 1963.

(As Ellen McRae) "No Place to Run," Laramie, NBC, 1963.

(As Ellen McRae) Barbara Sherwood and Lucille Benton, "The Deep End," Kraft Suspense Theatre, NBC, 1964.

(As Ellen McRae) Susan Mason, "Big Man from Nairobi," The Greatest Show on Earth, ABC, 1964.

(As Ellen McRae) "Runaway," Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater (also known as Chrysler Theater and Universal Star Time), NBC, 1965.

"Seized, Confined, and Detained," For the People, CBS, 1965.

(As Ellen McRae) Eve Holland, "Crack of Doom," The Time Tunnel, ABC, 1966.

(As Ellen McRae) Sister Jacob (also known as Sarah), "Days of Grace," The Big Valley, ABC, 1967.

(As Ellen McRae) Kate Burden, "Last Grave at Socorro Creek," The Virginian (also known as The Men from Shiloh), NBC, 1969.

Amy Waters, "Waste: Parts 1 & 2," Gunsmoke also known as Gun Law and Marshal Dillon), CBS, 1971.

Rachel Lambert, "Lisa, I Hardly Knew You," The Bold Ones: The Lawyers (also known as The Bold Ones and The Lawyers), NBC, 1972.

Herself, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (also known as The Best of Carson), NBC, 1975, 1976, multiple episodes in 1978.

Herself, Revista de cine, 1977.

Guest host, Saturday Night Live (also known as NBC's "Saturday Night," Saturday Night, Saturday Night Live '80, SNL, and SNL 25), NBC, 1980.

Herself, "Broadway Dreamers: The Legacy of Group Theatre," American Masters, PBS, 1989.

Herself, "Miracle on 44th Street: A Portrait of the Actors Studio," American Masters, PBS, 1991.

Herself, Inside the Actors Studio, Bravo, 1995.

Herself, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1996.

Herself, "Lee Strasberg: The Method Man," Biography (also known as A & E Biography: Lee Strasberg), Arts and Entertainment, 1998.

Herself, "Betty Buckley in Concert and in Person" (also known as "Betty Buckley"), Bravo Profiles, Bravo, 1999.

Betty Buckley," Biography (also known as A & E Biography: Betty Buckley), Arts and Entertainment, 1999.

"Gene Hackman," Bravo Profiles, Bravo, c. 2000.

Herself, Intimate Portrait: Linda Blair, Lifetime, 2001.

Herself, "Ashley Judd," Revealed with Jules Asner, E! Entertainment Television, 2002.

Herself, The Oprah Winfrey Show (also known as Oprah), syndicated, 2002.

Herself, When I Was a Girl, WE (Women's Entertainment Television), 2002.

Herself, The View, ABC, 2004.

Television Appearances; Pilots:

(As Ellen McRae) Ellen, The Big Brain, CBS, 1963.

Ellen Brewer, The Ellen Burstyn Show, ABC, 1986.

Dolly DeLucca, That's Life, CBS, 2000.

Bishop Beatrice Congreve, "Temptation," The Book of Daniel, NBC, 2006.

Television Work; Movies:

Executive producer, Within These Walls, Lifetime, 2001.

Stage Appearances:

(As Ellen McRae) Susan Hammarlee, Fair Game, Long-acre Theatre, New York City, 1957.

John Loves Mary, summer theatre production, 1960.

Doris, Same Time, Next Year, Brooks Atkinson Theatre, New York City, beginning 1975.

Masha, The Three Sisters, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Theatre, Brooklyn, New York City, 1977.

Helene Hanff, 84 Charing Cross Road, Nederlander Theatre, New York City, 1982–83.

Kathleen Hogan, Park Your Car in Harvard Yard, Manhattan Theatre Club, New York City, 1984.

Night of 100 Stars II (also known as Night of One Hundred Stars), Radio City Music Hall, New York City, 1985.

Title role, Shirley Valentine (solo show), Booth Theatre, New York City, 1989, then Chicago, IL, 1990.

Sharyn Beaumont, Shimada, Broadhurst Theatre, New York City, 1992.

Sister Grace, Sacrilege, Belasco Theatre, New York City, 1995.

The Death of Papa, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, Paul Green Theatre, 1997, Hartford Stage, Hartford, CT, 1999.

Mary Tyrone, Long Day's Journey into Night, Alley Theatre, Houston, TX, 1998, Hartford Stage, 1999.

Curtain Call 2000, Hartford Stage, 2000.

Lucy Marsden, The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (solo show), Old Globe, San Diego, CA, and Longacre Theatre, New York City, both 2003.

Appeared as Melissa Gardner, Love Letters, Los Angeles production; and appeared in Andromeda II, off-Broadway production.

Major Tours:

Daisy Werthan, Driving Miss Daisy, 1988.

Stage Work:

Director, Judgement, St. Peter's Church, New York City, 1980.



(In archive footage) Oscar's Greatest Moments, 1992.

The Last Picture Show: A Look Back, Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment, 1999.

The Making of "Requiem for a Dream," Artisan Entertainment, 2001.

Memories, Dreams & Addictions, Artisan Entertainment, 2001.

Second Chances: The Making of "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," Warner Home Video, 2004.


Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and Todd Gold, The Wheel of Life: A Memoir of Living and Dying, Simon & Schuster Audio, 1997.

Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue, Book One, Audio Volume I, Audio Literature, 1997.

Walsch, Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue, Book One, Audio Volume II, Audio Literature, 1997.

Walsch, Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue, Book One, Audio Volume III, Audio Literature, 1997.

Walsch, Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue, Book Two, Audio Volume I, Audio Literature, 1997.

Walsch, Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue, Book Two, Audio Volume II, Audio Literature, c. 1997.

Walsch, Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue, Book Two, Audio Volume III, Audio Literature, c. 1997.

Walsch, Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue, Book Three, Audio Volumes I-III, Audio Literature, 1999.

Ellen Burstyn, Lessons in Becoming Myself, Penguin Audiobooks, 2006.



(Story) Resurrection, Universal, 1980.

Author of screenplays.


Lessons in Becoming Myself (autobiography), Riverhead Books, 2006, audiobook released by Penguin Audiobooks, 2006.

Contributor to periodicals. Contributor of photographs to periodicals, including Darkroom Photography. Featured in the Cathleen Rountree book On Women Turning 50: Celebrating Mid-Life Discoveries, Harper-Collins, 1993.



Cosmopolitan, February, 1982.

Focus on Film, summer, 1975.

Parade, October 1, 2000, p. 26.

People Weekly, September 9, 1996, p. 120; May 14, 2001, p. 167.

Playbill, February 28, 2003, p. 35.

Radio Times, October 14, 1989, p. 23.

Take One, March, 1977.

Village Voice, November 5, 1980.

Burstyn, Ellen

views updated May 11 2018


Nationality: American. Born: Edna Rae Gillooly in Detroit, Michigan, 7 December 1932. Education: Attended Cass Tech High School, Detroit. Family: Married 1) William C. Alexander; 2) Paul Roberts; 3) Neil Burstyn, son: Jefferson. Career: 1951–57—model in New York and Texas as Edna Rae; dancer in Montreal club as Keri Flynn; "Glee Girl" on The Jackie Gleason Show (as Erica Dean); 1957—on Broadway in Fair Game (as Ellen McRae); early 1970s—studied at Actors Studio; 1973—bought script of Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, and chose Martin Scorsese as director; 1975—returned to Broadway in Same Time Next Year; other New York stage work includes The Three Sisters (1977) and 84 Charing Cross Road (1982); 1979—named co-artist director, with Al Pacino, of the Actors Studio following death of Lee Strasberg; president, Actors' Equity Association, 1982–85. Awards: Best Supporting Actress, New York Film Critics, for The Last Picture Show, 1971; Best Actress Academy Award, and Best Actress, British Academy, for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, 1975; honorary doctorates from Dowling College, 1983, and School of Visual Arts, New York City, 1983. Address: c/o Todd Smith, Creative Artists Agency, 1888 Century Park E., Suite 1400, Los Angeles, CA 90067, U.S.A.

Films as Actress:

(as Ellen McRae)


For Those Who Think Young (Martinson) (as Dr. Pauline Thayer); Goodbye Charlie (Minnelli) (as Franny)


Pit Stop (Hill) (as Ellen McLeod)

(as Ellen Burstyn)


Alex in Wonderland (Mazursky) (as Beth); Tropic of Cancer (Strick) (as Mona)


The Last Picture Show (Bogdanovich) (as Lois)


The King of Marvin Gardens (Rafelson) (as Sally)


The Exorcist (Friedkin) (as Chris)


Harry and Tonto (Mazursky) (as Shirley); Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (Scorsese) (as Alice Hyatt); Thursday's Game (Moore—for TV)


Providence (Resnais) (as Sonia)


A Dream of Passion (Dassin) (as Brenda); Same Time Next Year (Mulligan) (as Doris)


Resurrection (Petrie) (as Edna Mae McCauley)


The Silence of the North (King) (as Olive Fredrickson)


The Ambassador (Thompson) (as Alex Hacker)


Twice in a Lifetime (Yorkin) (as Kate MacKenzie); Surviving (Hussein—for TV); Into Thin Air (Young—for TV)


Something in Common (Glenn Jordan—for TV)


Pack of Lies (Page—for TV); Hello Actors Studio (Tresgot—doc); Look Away (Seidelman); Dear America (Letters Home from Vietnam) (doc—for TV) (voice)


Hanna's War (Golan) (as Katarina Senesh)


Act of Vengeance . . . A True Story (Mackenzie—for TV)


The Color of Evening (Stafford); When You Remember Me (Winer—for TV) (as Nurse Cooder)


Dying Young (Schumacher) (as Mrs. O'Neil); Mrs. Lambert Remembers Love (for TV) (as Lil Lambert)


Taking Back My Life (for TV) (as Wilma); Grand Isle (Lambert—for TV) (as Mademoiselle Reisz)


Shattered Trust: The Shari Karney Story (for TV) (as Joan Delvecchio); The Cemetery Club (Duke) (as Esther Moskowitz)


Getting Gotti (Young—for TV) (as Jo Giacalone); Trick of the Eye (for TV) (as Frances Griffin); When a Man Loves a Woman (Mandoki) (as Emily); Getting Out (for TV) (as Arlie's mother)


The Baby-Sitter's Club (as Mrs. Haberman); Roommates (Yates) (as Judith); How to Make an American Quilt (Moorhouse) (as Hy); My Brother's Keeper (for TV) (as Helen); Follow the River (for TV) (as Gretel)


The Spitfire Grill (Zlotoff) (as Hannah Ferguson)


Deceiver (Jonas Pate, Josua Pate) (as Mook); A Deadly Vision


You Can Thank Me Later (Dotan) (as Shirley Cooperberg); Playing by Heart (Carroll) (as Mildred); Flash (Wincer—for TV) (as Laura Strong); The Patron Saint of Liars (Gyllenhaal—for TV) (as June Clatterbuck); A Will of Their Own (Arthur—mini for TV) (as Veronica Steward)


Night Ride Home (Jordan—for TV) (as Maggie)


The Yards (Gray) (as Val Handler); Requiem for a Dream (Aronofsky) (as Sara Goldfarb); Mermaid (Masterson—for TV) (as Trish); Walking Across Egypt (Seidelman) (as Mattie Rigsbee)


By BURSTYN: article—

Interview, in Take One (Montreal), March 1977.

On BURSTYN: articles—

Current Biography 1975, New York, 1975.

Glaessner, Verina, "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," in Focus on Film (London), Summer 1975.

Bell, Arthur, "Burstyn without Masks," in Village Voice (New York), 5 November 1980.

Berkvist, Robert, "The Miracle of Ellen Burstyn," in Cosmopolitan (New York), February 1982.

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Ellen Burstyn is an unparalleled re-inventress. While many actresses transmute their image after stardom wanes, Burstyn tried on different identities prior to Hollywood glory. It is her inbred survivability and desire to refashion adversity in a favorable image that informs her finest work. Having been christened Edna Rae Gillooly, and having danced as Keri Flynn, Ellen "Erica Dean" Burstyn then promenaded as one of Jackie Gleason's television Glee Girls, snared a fling at Broadway ingenuedom as Ellen McRae, and paid her dues as Ellen McLeod in such drive-in filler as Pit Stop. Before she chucked her marginal screen-acting progress to hone her craft at the Actors Studio, Burstyn had already gone through more name changes than Joan Crawford. If great actresses should be chameleons, then Burstyn returned to film work in 1970 as well-prepared by her own catch-as-catch-can life as by Strasberg's Method. Playing vitally attractive women with some mileage on them, Burstyn sent critics scrambling for superlatives by shifting from supportive but insecure mom in The Last Picture Show to the destructively paranoid stepmother in King of Marvin Gardens. At an age when most female stars have accumulated the bulk of their above-title credits, Burstyn was just hitting her stride. Maintaining dignity amidst the pea soup-spitting hysteria of the boxoffice avalanche, The Exorcist, Burstyn slyly demonstrated the chutzpah that nourished her slow-burning career. Negotiating a deal for a project she rescued from television, Burstyn starred in the finest flowering of feminism for the masses, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and won the Oscar. Chronicling a minor lounge singer's embattled insistence on not sacrificing rewarding work for a Prince Charming, she fueled the film with the rage she must have felt waiting so long for stardom herself.

Having hit this unexpected height in her forties, Burstyn repeated her Tony-award triumph in Same Time, Next Year, but on-screen, the shenanigans seemed better suited to Doris Day's Ross Hunter period. As a conventional movie star, Burstyn registered as too unyielding. More challenged by varying her range with misguided art films such as Resnais's stuffy chat-fest Providence and Dassin's A Dream of Passion (an attempt to do for Medea what Bergman did for Persona), Burstyn's star power experienced a Resurrection, in which she filtered her tensile fortitude through her most translucent performance as a widow transformed into a psychic healer by personal tragedy. Sadly, this perfect mesh of actress and role led only to claptrap (Silence of the North), post-stardom supporting crumbs (Twice in a Lifetime) and the welcoming vista of television where she suffered to stunning effect in Pack of Lies and Into Thin Air, and wreaked emotional chaos in Getting Out. Having briefly sampled Hollywood immortality, Burstyn seemed content to cast herself as working actress, returning to Broadway as a female priest in Sacrilege or gracing ensemble films such as How to Make an American Quilt and Cemetery Club. Sometimes faltering in grande dame parts (e.g., television's Primal Secret), the still-radiantly sexy Burstyn needs to display her many facets in something other than retreads of Fay Bainter roles. Appearing briefly in younger actresses' Oscar-pandering vehicles (Julia Roberts's Dying Young and Meg Ryan's When a Man Loves a Woman), Burstyn wipes the little darlings off the screen. A talent educated in the school of hard knocks is likely to endure.

—Robert Pardi