Davis, Geena 1956-
Davis, Geena 1956-
Full name, Virginia Elizabeth Davis; born January 21, 1956, in Wareham, MA; daughter of William (a civil engineer) and Lucille (a teacher's aide) Davis; married Richard Emmolo (a restaurant manager), March 25, 1982 (divorced, February 26, 1983); married Jeff Goldblum (an actor), November 1, 1987 (divorced, October 17, 1990); married Renny Harlin (a director), September 18, 1993 (divorced, June 21, 1998); married Reza Jarrahy (a neurosurgeon), September 1, 2001; children: (fourth marriage) Alizeh Keshvar, Kian William and Kaiis Steven (twins). Education: Boston University, B.F.A., acting, 1979; also attended New England College; studied flute, piano, and organ.
Actress, director, and producer. Zoli Agency, New York, NY, model, c. 1979; Mount Washington Repertory Theatre Company, North Conway, NH, actress; Forge Productions (a production company), cofounder (with Renny Harlin), 1994-98; appeared in television commercials, including TD Waterhouse brokerage, DLJ Direct brokerage, and L'Oreal hair products; appeared in advertising posters for H&M clothing company; appeared as a model in Victoria's Secret catalogs. Genial Pictures, founder. Women in Film Awards, 1998, emcee. U.S. Women's Olympic Archery Team, 1999, semifinalist. Also worked as a waitress, window mannequin, and sales clerk.
Saturn Award nomination, best actress, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, 1987, for The Fly; Academy Award, best supporting actress, 1988, for The Accidental Tourist; National Board of Review Award (with Susan Sarandon), best actress, Boston Society of Film Critics Award, best actress, Academy Award nomination, best actress, Golden Globe Award nomination, best actress in a motion picture—drama, and Film Award nomination, best actress in a leading role, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, all 1991, David di Donatello Award (with Sarandon), best foreign actress, MTV Movie Award nominations, best female performance, and best on-screen duo (with Sarandon), all 1992, all for Thelma and Louise; Piper-Heidsieck Award, San Francisco International Film Festival, 1992; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a motion picture—comedy or musical, and MTV Movie Award nomination, best female performance, both 1993, for A League of Their Own; Golden Globe Award nomination, best actress—comedy or musical, 1995, for Speechless; named "one of the top 100 movie stars of all time," Empire magazine, 1997; Saturn Award nomination, best actress, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, 1997, for The Long Kiss Goodnight; honorary doctorate, Boston University, 1999; Saturn Award nomination, best supporting actress, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, 2000, for Stuart Little; People's Choice Award nomination, favorite female performer in a new television series, 2001, for The Geena Davis Show; Satellite Award nomination, outstanding actress in a series—drama, International Press Academy, 2005, Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series, Golden Globe Award, best performance by an actress in a television series—drama, 2006, all for Commander in Chief; Lucy Award, Women in Film, 2006; Hollywood Hero Award, USA Today, 2007.
Appeared in Harvey, Mount Washington Repertory Theatre, North Conway, NH; One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Mount Washington Repertory Theatre, North Conway, NH; Play It Again, Sam, Mount Washington Repertory Theatre.
April, Tootsie, Columbia, 1982.
Larry, Fletch, Universal, 1985.
Odette, Transylvania 6-5000, New World, 1985.
Veronica "Ronnie" Quaife, The Fly (also known as La Mouche), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1986.
Barbara Maitland, Beetlejuice, Warner Bros., 1988.
Muriel Pritchett, The Accidental Tourist, Warner Bros., 1988.
Valerie Dale, Earth Girls Are Easy, Vestron, 1989.
Phyllis Potter, Quick Change, Warner Bros., 1990.
Thelma Dickinson, Thelma and Louise, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1991.
Dottie Hinson, A League of Their Own, Columbia, 1992.
Gale Gayley, Hero (also known as Accidental Hero), Columbia, 1992.
Voice of narrator, Princess Scargo and the Birthday Pumpkin, 1993.
Angie Scacciapensieri (title role), Angie, Buena Vista, 1994.
Julia Mann, Speechless, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1994.
Morgan Adams, Cutthroat Island (also known as L'ile aux pirates, Corsari, and Die pirantenbraut), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1995.
Samantha "Sam" Caine/Charlene "Charly" Elizabeth Baltimore, The Long Kiss Goodnight, New Line Cinema, 1996.
Narrator, Fairy Tales on Ice: Alice Through the Looking Glass, 1996.
Eleanor Little, Stuart Little, Columbia, 1999.
Eleanor Little, Stuart Little 2, Columbia, 2002.
Herself, Thelma & Louise: The Last Journey, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Home Entertainment, 2003.
Voice of Mrs. Eleanor Little, Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild (animated), Columbia, 2005.
Herself, Fear of the Flesh: The Making of "The Fly" (documentary), Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2005.
Herself, Special Thanks to Roy London, 2005.
Speechless, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1994.
Cutthroat Island, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1995.
(Uncredited) The Long Kiss Goodnight, New Line Cinema, 1996.
Television Appearances; Series:
Wendy Killian, Buffalo Bill, NBC, 1983-84.
Sara McKenna, Sara, NBC, 1985.
Teddie Cochran, The Geena Davis Show, ABC, 2000-2001.
President Mackenzie Allen, Commander in Chief, ABC, 2005-2006.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Tamara Reshevsky, Secret Weapons (also known as Secrets of the Red Bedroom and Sexpionage), NBC, 1985.
Television Appearances; Pilots:
Gloria Sheppard, Exit 19, CBS, 2008.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Day to Day Affairs, HBO, 1985.
The 61st Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1989.
Presenter, The 62nd Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1990.
Sing! Sesame Street Remembers Joe Raposo and His Music, 1990.
In the Director's Chair: The Man Who Invented Edward Scissorhands, 1990.
Big Bird's Birthday or, Let Me Eat Cake, PBS, 1991.
Presenter, The 63rd Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1991.
Presenter, The 64th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1992.
Fox/MTV Guide to Summer 2, Fox, 1992.
Presenter, The 65th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1993.
Presenter, The 66th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1994.
The 67th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1995.
The 68th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1996.
Host, Breaking Through: Women Behind the Wheel, Lifetime, 1997.
Presenter, The 70th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1998.
Bravo Profiles: The Entertainment Business, Bravo, 1998.
The Warner Bros. Story: No Guts, No Glory—75 Years of Blockbusters, TNT, 1998.
AFI's 100 Years … 100 Stars, CBS, 1999.
Host, Sunday at the Oscars, ABC, 1999.
Presenter, The 71st Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1999.
Stuart Little: Making It Big, 1999.
Presenter, The 52nd Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards, ABC, 2000.
Presenter, The 75th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2003.
AFI's 100 Years … 100 Heroes & Villains (also known as AFI's 100 Years, 100 Heroes & Villains: America's Greatest Screen Characters), CBS, 2003.
Performer, An American Celebration at Ford's Theatre, ABC, 2005.
Presenter, The 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, CBS, 2005.
The 63rd Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 2006.
Presenter, The 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 2007.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
Grace Farron, "K.I.T.T. the Cat," Knight Rider, NBC, 1983.
Karen Nicholson, "Help Wanted," Family Ties, NBC, 1984.
Karen Nicholson, "Karen 2, Alex 0," Family Ties, NBC, 1984.
Dr. Melba Bozinski, "Raiders of the Lost Sub," Riptide, NBC, 1984.
Whitney Clark, "Don Juan's Last Affair," Fantasy Island, ABC, 1984.
Sandy Dalrumple, "Steele in the Chips," Remington Steele, NBC, 1985.
"Dream, Dream, Dream," George Burns Comedy Week, CBS, 1985.
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, NBC, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1992.
Late Night with David Letterman, NBC, 1988.
Today (also known as NBC News Today and The Today Show), NBC, 1988.
Daphne, "Hit List," Trying Times, PBS, 1989.
CBS in the Morning, CBS, 1989.
Hollywood Insider, USA Network, 1989.
Host, Saturday Night Live (also known as NBC's Saturday Night, Saturday Night, and SNL), NBC, 1989.
Narrator, "Princess Scargo and the Birthday Pumpkin," American Heroes and Legends, 1992.
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC, 1992, 2001, 2005.
Storytime, PBS, 1994.
Inside the Actors Studio, Bravo, 1995, 2000.
Lo + plus, 1996.
The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000.
Herself, "Galapremiar Long Kiss Goodnight," Nyhetsmorgon, 1996.
Mundo VIP, 1997, 2000.
The Entertainment Business, Bravo, 1998.
"Stuart Little: Making It Big," HBO First Look, HBO, 1999.
"Geena Davis," Bravo Profiles, Bravo, 2002.
"On the Set of Stuart Little 2," HBO First Look, HBO, 2002.
Herself, Leute heute, 2002.
Tinseltown TV, International Channel, 2003.
GMTV, ITV, 2004.
"Brad Pitt," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 2004.
Janet Adler, "The Accidental Tsuris," Will & Grace, NBC, 2004.
Live with Regis and Kelly, syndicated, 2005.
Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show, syndicated, 2005, 2006.
The Oprah Winfrey Show (also known as Oprah), syndicated, 2005, 2006.
Late Show with David Letterman (also known as Letterman and The Late Show), CBS, 2006.
"Word Cup, And-1, ASCAP, and Superman Returns," In the Mix (also known as In the Cutz), Urban America, 2006.
The View, ABC, 2006.
Entertainment Tonight (also known as E.T.), syndicated, 2008.
Television Co-Executive Producer; Series:
The Geena Davis Show, ABC, 2000-2001.
Commander in Chief, 2005-2006.
Television Executive Producer; Movies:
Mistrial, HBO, 1996.
Television Co-Executive Producer; Pilots:
Exit 19, CBS, 2008.
Television Executive Producer; Specials:
The Great Lifetime Makeover, Lifetime, 1998.
Buffalo Bill, NBC, 1983-84.
International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, 4th ed., St. James Press, 2000.
American Premiere, May/June, 1991, p. 17.
Esquire, August, 1989, p. 86.
Gentlemen's Quarterly, June, 1989, p. 222.
Good Housekeeping, April, 2006, p. 134.
O, The Oprah Magazine, January, 2006, p. 116.
Sports Illustrated, November 18, 2002, p. 34.
Nationality: American. Born: Virginia Davis in Wareham, Massachusetts, 21 January 1957. Family: Married 1) Richard Emmolo (divorced); 2) the actor Jeff Goldblum (divorced); 3) the director Renny Harlin (divorced). Education: Attended Boston University, BFA, 1979. Career: Began acting on stage with the Mount Washington Repertory Company in New Hampshire, late 1970s; moved to New York to break into theater, 1979; worked as a model, early 1980s; made screen debut in Tootsie, 1982; appeared in TV sitcom Buffalo Bill, 1983–84; had title role in TV sitcom Sara, 1985; had breakthrough screen roles in Beetlejuice and The Accidental Tourist, 1988; established her own production company, Genial Pictures, 1990s; placed 24th out of 28 semi-finalists for the United States Olympic Archery Team, 1999. Awards: Best Supporting Actress Academy Award, for The Accidental Tourist, 1988; Best Actress National Board of Review, for Thelma & Louise, 1991. Agent: Paramount Communications, 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019, U.S.A.
Films as Actress:
Tootsie (Pollack) (as April)
Fletch (Ritchie) (as Larry); Transylvania 6–5000 (DeLuca) (as Odette); Secret Weapons (Secrets of the Red Bedroom; Sexpionage) (Don Taylor—for TV) (as Tamara Reshevsky)
The Fly (Cronenberg) (as Veronica "Ronnie" Quaife)
Beetlejuice (Burton) (as Barbara Maitland); The Accidental Tourist (Kasdan) (as Muriel Pritchett)
Earth Girls Are Easy (Temple) (as Valerie Dale)
Quick Change (Howard Franklin and Bill Murray) (as Phyllis)
Thelma & Louise (Ridley Scott) (as Thelma Dickinson)
Hero (Accidental Hero) (Frears) (as Gale Gayley); A League of Their Own (Penny Marshall) (as Dottie Hinson)
Angie (Coolidge) (as Angie Scacciapensieri); Speechless (Underwood) (as Julia, + co-pr)
Cutthroat Island (Harlin) (as Morgan Adams)
The Long Kiss Goodnight (Harlin) (as Samantha Caine/Charly Baltimore)
Stuart Little (Minkoff) (as Mrs. Little)
By DAVIS: articles—
"Accidental Ingenue," interview with Michael Musto and Dan Lepard, in Interview (New York), December 1988.
Interview with Martha Sherrill, in Washington Post, 12 May 1989.
Interview with Johanna Schneller, in GQ (New York), June 1989.
"20 Questions," interview with David Rensin, in Playboy (Chicago), October 1989.
Interview with S. Banner, in Time Out (London), 2 September 1992.
"The Brainy Bombshell," interview with George Kalogerakis, in Vogue (New York), May 1994.
On DAVIS: articles—
DiNicolo, David, "People Are Talking About: Movies," in Vogue (New York), April 1988.
Sherman, Jeffrey, "Tour Divorce," in Vogue (New York), November 1988.
Rasenberger, Jim, "Dreams of Geena," in Vanity Fair (New York), January 1989.
Handy, Bruce, "What's So Strange about Geena Davis?," in Rolling Stone (New York), 23 March 1989.
Ferguson, K., "Geena Davis," in Film Monthly (Hemel, England), June 1989.
"Women We Love," in Esquire (New York), August 1989.
Current Biography 1991, New York, 1991.
Jerome, Jim, "Riding Shotgun," in People Weekly (New York), 24 June 1991.
Schickel, Richard, "Gender Bender," in Time (New York), 24 June 1991.
Diamond, Jamie, "Geena: The Goddess Next Door," in Vogue (New York), September 1992.
Sessums, Kevin, "Geena's Sheen," in Vanity Fair (New York), September 1992.
Abramowitz, R., "Geena Soars," in Premiere (New York), February 1994.
Clark, J., "Renny Harlin Gets the Girl," in Premiere (New York), March 1995.
* * *
Had Paula Prentiss been working in movies in the 1980s, she would have been up for the same roles as Geena Davis. The two talented actresses shared lanky, long-legged good looks and the ability to project appealing, offbeat personalities. Because neither was mistaken for Marilyn Monroe or Michelle Pfeiffer during her early career, the ingenue roles in which the young actresses were cast suggested capricious types. Prentiss's film career lost steam in the early 1970s as she entered her mid-thirties; however, the increase in solid, three-dimensional film roles for women a decade-and-a-half later allowed Davis's career to thrive at the same point.
Her screen debut came in an eye-opening supporting role in Tootsie, playing a soap opera actress who shares a dressing room with Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman), an unemployable character actor secretly taking on a woman's identity in order to work. After ongoing roles in two television series, Davis returned to making movies. She co-starred with then-husband Jeff Goldblum in three films. The first was Transylvania 6–5000, an unfunny Dracula-themed spoof in which she appeared as a sex-crazed vampiress. But her talent was apparent. According to New York Times critic Janet Maslin, Davis "appears to have wandered in from another, much better movie." In The Fly she is underutilized as a journalist who has an affair with the fly/man played by Goldblum. And in the imaginative Earth Girls Are Easy she is a harebrained Valley-girl manicurist who falls for a space alien.
The films with Goldblum proved Davis could be credible in fantasy-world films. The most outstanding and appealing of her fantasy cycle is Tim Burton's Beetlejuice, the now-classic horror tale of a recently deceased couple who attempt to haunt-out a dysfunctional family from the house that had been theirs. Davis is completely at home in Burton's fanciful, surreal after-death world. An actor has to have a special sense of the absurd in order to evoke emotions while wearing rubber monster masks and prancing around in a sheet (even if it is a designer sheet).
Lawrence Kasdan's The Accidental Tourist provided Davis with a more substantial role, one which allowed her an opportunity to develop a personality of full measure. From the pages of Kasdan's adaptation of Anne Tyler's best-selling novel, Davis brings to life the character of an ingenuous dog trainer whose free-flowing personality unlocks the emotions of a pent-up travel writer she comes to love. The clarity and feeling she applied to the role earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
However, the outstanding role in Davis's career to date is that of Thelma, an Arkansas housewife who takes to the road with her waitress friend (Susan Sarandon) in the highly-touted female buddy film Thelma & Louise. Callie Khouri's original script presents the full-blooded character of an unhappy ditzy housewife who develops into a determined criminal. Feminist viewers were enthralled as they watched the two women characters travel across the Southwest in their '66 T-bird. In Paula Prentiss's 20-year career, she never once had such a solid role.
The year after Thelma & Louise, Davis gave a well-rounded performance in A League of Their Own as a farm girl who becomes a star baseball player in a women's league during World War II. Here, her rangy build gave credibility to the character's athletic prowess. She then played a pair of independent women who face romance and marriage with some amount of trepidation. She has the title role in Angie, playing a free-spirit who is on the verge of marriage and parenthood. In Speechless, she is seen in the timely comedy of a political speech writer who falls for a man who writes speeches for opposing candidates. Critics noted the strength of her performances in both these films.
In the mid-1990s, it could have been said that, with the support of several above-average scripts, Davis had gone from playing zany but one-dimensional characters to winning multifaceted star roles in motion pictures that were both critical and box-office successes. So powerfully did the actress carry off well-written roles that she was able to create a new and different look for female film stars. Unfortunately, she then chose to appear in two high-profile genre films, the action thriller The Long Kiss Goodnight and the swashbuckler Cutthroat Island. Both were directed by Davis's now ex-husband, Renny Harlin. Not only did they fail to establish the actress as a celluloid action heroine but impeded on her very stardom and marketability. Then, after a three year absence from the screen, Davis reemerged as the mother/homemaker in the kiddie fantasy StuartLittle: a colorless role that might have been played by any number of pleasant-looking, anonymous thirty-fortysomething actresses.
—Audrey E. Kupferberg