Pfeiffer, Michelle 1957(?)–
PFEIFFER, Michelle 1957(?)–
Full name, Michelle M. Pfeiffer; born April 29, 1957 (some sources cite 1958 or 1959), in Santa Ana, CA; daughter of Richard (a heating and air conditioning contractor) and Donna (a homemaker) Pfeiffer; sister of Dedee Pfeiffer (an actress) and Lori Pfeiffer (an actress and model); married Peter Horton (an actor, director, producer, and writer), 1981 (some sources cite 1982; divorced, 1990 [some sources cite 1987 or 1989]); married David E. Kelley (a lawyer, producer, director, and writer), November 13, 1993; children: (second marriage) Claudia Rose Kelley, John Henry Kelley. Education: Attended Golden West College and Whitley College; studied acting with Peggy Feury at Beverly Hills Playhouse and with Geraldine Page at Ahmanson Theatre workshop.
Addresses: Agent— Kevin Huvane, Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Publicist— Wolf/Kasteler/Van Iden and Associates Public Relations, 335 North Maple Dr., Suite 351, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.
Career: Actress, producer, and singer. Via Rosa Productions, Santa Monica, CA, founder (with Kate Guinzburg). Appeared in television commercials and worked as a model; participant in local beauty pageants. Performer at Disneyland, mid–1970s; also worked as a supermarket checkout clerk.
Member: Screen Actors Guild.
Awards, Honors: Young Artist Award nomination, Young Artist Foundation, best young motion picture actress, 1983, for Grease 2; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a motion picture comedy or musical, 1989, for Married to the Mob; Academy Award nomination, 1989, and Film Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1990, both best supporting actress, for Dangerous Liaisons; New York Film Critics Circle Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Achievement Award, and D. W. Griffith Award, National Board of Review, all best actress, 1989, Golden Globe Award, best performance by an actress in a motion picture drama, National Society of Film Critics Award, Chicago Film Critics Association Award, and Academy Award nomination, all best actress, all 1990, and Film Award nomination, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, best actress, 1991, all for The Fabulous Baker Boys; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a motion picture drama, 1991, for The Russia House; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a motion picture comedy or musical, 1992, for Frankie and Johnny; Silver Berlin Bear, Berlin International Film Festival, best actress, Academy Award nomination, best actress, and Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a motion picture drama, all 1993, for Love Field; MTV Award nominations, most desirable female and best kiss (with Michael Keaton), 1993, for Batman Returns; Crystal Award, Women in Film, 1993; ShoWest Award, National Association of Theatre Owners, female star of the year, 1994; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a motion picture drama, 1994, for The Age of Innocence; named Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year, Hasty Pudding Theatricals, Harvard University, 1995; Blockbuster Entertainment Award, favorite actress—drama, and MTV Movie Award nominations, best female performance and most desirable female, all 1996, for Dangerous Minds; Blockbuster Entertainment Award, favorite actress—comedy or romance, 1997, for One Fine Day; named one of the "top 100 movie stars of all time," by Empire magazine, Great Britain, 1997; Silver Rose (with Jessica Lange and Jennifer Jason Leigh), Verona Love Screens Film Festival, best actress, 1999, for A Thousand Acres; Saturn Award nomination, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, best actress, and Blockbuster Entertainment Award, favorite actress—suspense, both 2001, for What Lies Beneath; San Diego Film Critics Society Award, best supporting actress, 2002, Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award, best supporting actress, 2003, and Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role, 2003, all for White Oleander.
Sue Wellington, Falling in Love Again (also known as In Love ), International Picture of Atlanta, 1980.
Suzie Q, The Hollywood Knights, Columbia, 1980.
Cordelia Farenington, Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen, American Cinema, 1981.
Stephanie Zinone, Grease 2, Paramount, 1982.
Elvira Hancock Montana, Scarface, Universal, 1983.
Diana, Into the Night, Universal, 1985.
Isabeau d'Anjou, Ladyhawke, Warner Bros./Twentieth Century–Fox, 1985.
Faith Healy, Sweet Liberty, Universal, 1986.
Brenda, "Hospital," Amazon Women on the Moon (also known as Cheeseburger Film Sandwich ), Universal, 1987.
Sukie Ridgemont, The Witches of Eastwick, Warner Bros., 1987.
Angela de Marco, Married to the Mob, Orion, 1988.
Jo Ann Vallenari, Tequila Sunrise, Warner Bros., 1988.
Madame de Tourvel, Dangerous Liaisons, Warner Bros., 1988.
Susie Diamond, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1989.
Katya Orlova, The Russia House, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer/United Artists, 1990.
Frankie, Frankie and Johnny, Paramount, 1991.
Lurene Hallett, Love Field, Orion, 1992.
Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Batman Returns, Warner Bros., 1992.
Countess Ellen Olenska, The Age of Innocence, Columbia, 1993.
Laura Alden, Wolf, Columbia, 1994.
Lou Anne Johnson, Dangerous Minds, Buena Vista, 1995.
Gillian Lewis, To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, Triumph Releasing, 1996.
Melanie Parker, One Fine Day, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1996.
Sally "Tally" Atwater, Up Close and Personal (also known as Up Close and Personal: The Jessica Savitch Story ), Buena Vista, 1996.
Rose Cook Lewis, A Thousand Acres, Buena Vista, 1997.
Herself, The Uttmost (documentary), Clinica Estetico, 1998.
Voice of Tzipporah, The Prince of Egypt (animated), DreamWorks, 1998.
Beth Cappadora, The Deep End of the Ocean, Columbia, 1999.
Katie Jordan, The Story of Us, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, 1999.
Titania, A Midsummer Night's Dream (also known as William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Sogno di una notte di mezza estate ), Fox Searchlight Pictures, 1999.
Claire Spencer, What Lies Beneath, DreamWorks, 2000.
Rita Harrison, I Am Sam, New Line Cinema, 2001.
Ingrid Magnussen, White Oleander (also known as Weisser Oleander ), Warner Bros., 2002.
Voice of Eris, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (animated), DreamWorks, 2003.
Executive producer, One Fine Day, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1996.
(With others) Producer, A Thousand Acres, Buena Vista, 1997.
Producer, The Deep End of the Ocean, Columbia, 1999.
Television Appearances; Series:
Bombshell, Delta House, ABC, 1979.
Officer Samantha "Sunshine" Jensen, B.A.D. Cats, ABC, 1980.
Television Appearances; Miniseries:
"Money and Power" segment, Hollywood Women, ITV, 1994.
Narrator, Discovering Women, PBS, 1995.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Tricia, The Solitary Man, CBS, 1979.
Ginny Stamper, Splendor in the Grass, NBC, 1981.
Jennifer Williams, The Children Nobody Wanted, CBS, 1981.
Sue Lynn Bordeaux, Callie & Son (also known as Rags to Riches ), CBS, 1981.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Annie (some sources cite Jane), One Too Many, CBS, 1985.
Natica Jackson, "Tales from the Hollywood Hills: Natica Jackson" (also known as "Natica Jackson"), Great Performances, PBS, 1987.
Natica Jackson, "Tales from the Hollywood Hills: Power, Passion and Murder" (also known as "Power, Passion and Murder"), Great Performances, PBS, 1987.
Herself, Voices That Care, Fox, 1991.
Herself, The Barbara Walters Special, ABC, 1992.
Herself, The Bat, the Cat, and the Penguin, CBS, 1992.
Herself, Innocence and Experience: The Making of "The Age of Innocence, " 1992.
Herself, Hollywood's Leading Ladies with David Sheehan (also known as The Leading Ladies of the Movies ), NBC, 1993.
Herself, What Is This Thing Called Love? (also known as The Barbara Walters Special ), ABC, 1993.
Herself, Telling the Story of Us, 1999.
Herself, What Lies Beneath: Constructing the Perfect Thriller, 2001.
(In archive footage) Cher: The Farewell Tour, NBC, 2003.
Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:
Presenter, The 61st Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1989.
Presenter, The 62nd Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1990.
Presenter, The 55th Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 1998.
The 51st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, 1999.
Herself, 2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, Fox, 2000.
The Seventh Annual Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, Fox, 2001.
Presenter, AFI Awards 2001, CBS, 2002.
Presenter, Nickelodeon's 16th Annual Kids' Choice Awards, Nickelodeon, 2003.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
Athena, "The Island of Lost Women/The Flight of Great Yellow Bird," Fantasy Island, ABC, 1978.
Jobina, "The Watch Commander," CHiPs, NBC, 1979.
Herself, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, NBC, 1980.
Deborah Dare, "Elizabeth's Baby/The Artist and the Lady," Fantasy Island, ABC, 1981.
Voice of Mindy Simmons, "The Last Temptation of Homer," The Simpsons (animated), Fox, 1993.
Voice of Mindy Simmons, "Another Simpson Clip Show," The Simpsons (animated), Fox, 1994.
(Uncredited) Client, "Freezer Burn," Picket Fences, CBS, 1995.
Herself, Muppets Tonight!, ABC, 1996.
Herself, "The Best of Muppets Tonight!," Muppets Tonight!, ABC, 1997.
Herself, The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS, 2001, 2002.
Herself, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC, 2002.
Herself, The View, ABC, 2002.
Also appeared in The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated.
Television Appearances; Pilots:
Officer Samantha "Sunshine" Jensen, B.A.D. Cats, ABC, 1980.
Soundtrack Albums; with Others:
The Fabulous Baker Boys, GRP, 1989.
The Prince of Egypt, DreamWorks Records, 1998.
"In the Midnight Hour," by B. B. King, 1984.
"Voices That Care," by various artists, 1991.
"Gangsta's Paradise," by Coolio featuring LV, 1995.
Crowther, Bruce, Michelle Pfeiffer: A Biography, R. Hale, 1994.
Douglas, Thompson, Pfeiffer: Beyond "The Age of Innocence, " Blake Publishing, 1993.
International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, St. James Press, 1996.
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, St. James Press, 2000.
American Film, January, 1991, p. 22.
Biography, September, 1997, pp. 26–31; February, 1999, pp. 22–23.
Cosmopolitan, February, 1997, pp. 326–31.
Empire, issue 56, 1994, pp. 62–63; issue 80, 1996, pp. 90–91; October, 1997, p. 195; November, 2000, pp. 66–70, 73–76.
Entertainment Weekly, fall, 1996, p. 90; November 22, 1996, pp. 30–32; February 12, 1999, pp. 22–25.
Good Housekeeping, October, 1997, pp. 86–88.
Harper's Bazaar, October, 2002, pp. 188–92.
Interview, July, 1994.
Ladies Home Journal, March, 1996, pp. 140–44.
Los Angeles, September, 1997, pp. 60–65.
Movieline, April, 2002, pp. 46, 90.
New York Times, August 6, 1995.
Parade, June 15, 2003, pp. 4–5.
People Weekly, May 6, 1996, p. 101; May 10, 1999, pp. 82–83; July 31, 2000, pp. 60–61.
Premiere, September, 1999, pp. 72–77.
Starlog, October, 1992.
US Weekly, November, 1993; August, 1995.
Nationality: American. Born: Santa Ana, California, 29 April 1957 (some sources say 1959); sister of the actress Dedee Pfeiffer. Education: Attended Fountain Valley High School. Family: Married 1) the actor Peter Horton, 1982 (divorced 1987); adopted daughter, Claudia Rose, 1993; 2) producer/writer David E. Kelley, 1993, one child. Career: Worked as supermarket cashier; won Miss Orange County Beauty Pageant, 1977; TV debut in Delta House series, 1979; in TV series B.A.D. Cats 1980; film debut in The Hollywood Knights; stage debut in Twelfth Night, 1989. Awards: Best Supporting Actress,
British Academy, for Dangerous Liaisons, 1988; Best Actress Awards, Los Angeles Film Critics, New York Film Critics, National Society of Film Critics, National Board of Review, and Golden Globe for The Fabulous Baker Boys, 1989; Silver Bear at Berlin for Love Field, 1992. Agent: Ed Limato, William Morris Agency, 151 El Camino Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A.
Films as Actress:
The Solitary Man (Moxey—for TV)
The Hollywood Knights (Mutrux) (as Suzi Q); Falling in Love Again (Paul) (as Sue Wellington)
Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (Clive Donner) (as Cordelia Farrington); Splendor in the Grass (Sarafian—for TV); The Children Nobody Wanted (Richard Michaels—for TV); Callie & Son (Hussein—for TV)
Grease II (Birch) (as Stephanie Zinone)
Scarface (De Palma) (as Elvira)
Into the Night (Landis) (as Diana); Ladyhawke (Richard Donner) (as Isabeau)
Sweet Liberty (Alda) (as Faith Healy)
Amazon Women on the Moon (Dante) (as Brenda); The Witches of Eastwick (Miller) (as Sukie Ridgemont)
Married to the Mob (Jonathan Demme) (as Angela De Marco);Tequila Sunrise (Towne) (as Jo Ann Vallenari); Dangerous Liaisons (Frears) (as Madame de Tourvel)
The Fabulous Baker Boys (Kloves) (as Susie Diamond)
The Russia House (Schepisi) (as Katya)
Frankie and Johnny (Garry Marshall) (as Frankie)
Love Field (Kaplan) (as Lurene Hallett); Batman Returns (Burton) (as Catwoman/Selina Kyle)
The Age of Innocence (Scorsese) (as Countess Ellen Olenska)
Wolf (Nichols) (as Laura Alden)
Dangerous Minds (John N. Smith) (as LouAnne Johnson)
Up Close and Personal (Avnet); To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday; One Fine Day (Hoffman) (as Melanie Parker +exec pr)
A Thousand Acres (Moorhouse) (as Rose Cook Lewis)
The Prince of Egypt (Chapman, Hickner) (as voice of Tzipporah +singer)
The Story of Us (Reiner) (as Katie Jordan); A Midsummer Night's Dream (Hoffman) (as Titania); The Deep End of the Ocean (Grosbard) (as Beth Cappadora)
What Lies Beneath (Zemeckis) (as Claire Spencer)
By PFEIFFER: articles—
Interview, in Cinéma (Paris), September 1982.
Interview, in Photoplay (London), July 1985.
Interviews, in Inter/View (New York), March 1986, August 1988, and February 1989.
Interview, in Vanity Fair (New York), February 1989.
"Michelle Pfeiffer as Work in Progress," interview with Hal Hinson, in Esquire (New York), December 1990 .
Interview with Graham Fuller, in Interview (New York), July 1994.
"Female in Tuition" interview with Edwin J. Bernard, in Time Out (London), December 20-January 3, 1995–96.
On PFEIFFER: books—
Thompson, Douglas, Pfeiffer: Beyond the Age of Innocence, London, 1993.
Crowther, Bruce, Michelle Pfeiffer: A Biography, London, 1994. Holt, Julia, Michelle Pfeiffer, London, 1997.
On PFEIFFER: articles—
Thomson, D., "Class of 1985," in Film Comment (New York), March/April 1985.
McGillivray, David, "Michelle Pfeiffer," in Films and Filming (London), November 1985.
Current Biography 1990, New York, 1990.
Premiere (New York), March 1990.
Winnert, Derek, "The Fabulous Pfeiffer Girl," in Radio Times (London), 28 July 1990.
Seidenberg, Robert, "The Fabulous Pfeiffer Girl," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), January 1991.
Hirshey, Gerri, "The Bat's Meow: Catwoman Michelle Pfeiffer," in Rolling Stone (New York), 3 September 1992.
Kaplan, James, and Ty Burr, "Blond Ambivalence," in Entertainment Weekly, 29 January 1993.
Radio Times (London), 10 December 1994.
Wolcott, J, "Closeup," in New Yorker, 19 February 1996.
Greene, R., "Personal Best," in Boxoffice (Chicago), 10 March 1996.
Norman, Barry, "The Fabulous Pfeiffer Girl," in Radio Times (London), 7 June 1997.
* * *
Michelle Pfeiffer made her entry in Hollywood's 1980s intake of attractive, blue-eyed blondes that included Meg Ryan, Kim Basinger, Rebecca de Mornay, Tess Harper, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Of them all (and there were others), Pfeiffer seemed the most precisely cut from the cloth of a long Hollywood tradition—a sexy, beautiful, intelligent, modern answer to, say, Carole Lombard, blessed with a sophisticated gift for witty one-liners, an ability to cross class barriers, and to bring conviction to a range of contrasting characters across a spectrum from wild comedy through forgettable formula gloss to serious drama.
After a conventional Californian upbringing, during which she displayed little interest in her education, Pfeiffer won the 1977 Miss Orange County beauty contest and began directing her former aimlessness toward modeling, acting classes, and auditions for commercials. This well-trodden route led her to playing a succession of bit-part bimbos on television before she drifted onto the big screen in 1980, gaining some notice in her fourth film, Grease 2, which allowed her an opportunity to reveal her budding talents and hinted at her erotic qualities, if not yet the depths and widths of her range. It was to Brian De Palma's fine instinct for detecting new talent and taking a chance on it that she owed her first real chance to show what she was capable of. Cast as Elvira, the gangster's moll who becomes Al Pacino's wife in Scarface, she gave a sharply observed, hard-edged portrayal of a woman who takes refuge in cocaine from the hopelessness of her situation. Elvira's graphically distressing descent into addiction and destruction owed as much to the young actress's performance as to De Palma's operatic eye for the material. Having given notice of her dramatic potential, she next evinced a seductive mix of mystery, kookiness, and vulnerability, racing through an escalating series of bizarre situations with Jeff Goldblum in John Landis' comedy crime caper, Into the Night, a movie now almost forgotten but which brought the relative newcomer to wider attention and doubtless encouraged Jonathan Demme to cast her in his inspired and anarchic genre spoof, Married to the Mob. As the gum-chewing, Italian-American gangster's wife, a crazy kook bent on escape, replete with authentic accent and wild hairdo, Pfeiffer was both touching and hilarious.
Before Married to the Mob, Pfeiffer had made Richard Donner's awful medieval fantasy legend Ladyhawke and Alan Alda's tedious attempted satire on film-making Sweet Liberty, neither of which advanced her standing with the general public, but the industry seemed to sense what they were holding and teamed her with Susan Sarandon and Cher as one of the three Witches of Eastwick in thrall to Jack Nicholson. Now established as a thoroughgoing "modern"—drop-dead beautiful and with a talent to amuse—it came as something of a surprise to find her cast as the ill-fated 18th-century religieuse Madame de Tourvel, preyed upon by John Malkovich's Valmont inDangerous Liaisons. Although essentially miscast, her serious stab at this tragic role was not without honor and, indeed, not only elevated her to the ranks of actresses who are taken seriously by serious critics, but also brought her an Academy Award nomination. The superficial formula romance thriller, Tequila Sunrise, that followed, kept watchable by Pfeiffer's cool restaurateur caught between the attractive competing forces of Mel Gibson and Kurt Russell, was a forgettable blip before first-rank leading lady stardom came, nine years after her inconspicuous Hollywood debut, with The Fabulous Baker Boys.
As Susie Diamond, the small-time whore-turned-nightclub-singer whose presence disturbs the long-time partnership of two piano-playing brothers (Jeff and Beau Bridges), Pfeiffer set the screen alight with unbridled sensuality, while displaying the full sum of her now experienced parts: cool wit, tough-minded independence, and vulnerability. Garlanded with awards for her performance, she moved into that bracket of stars who could almost command their own price, but the movie itself failed to fulfill its own best ideas, leaving its popularity to rest on its leading lady's seductive, multi-layered presence. And therein lies the rub of Michelle Pfeiffer's career through its second decade. A glance at her filmography shows, on the credit side, a really remarkable range, from the defensive, worn-down waitress of Frankie and Johnny to the remote, elegant Countess Ellen Olenska of The Age of Innocence, hiding her pain, her yearning and her isolation beneath her surface of controlled independence. Contrast, too, her athletic Cat Woman of Batman Returns, in which she effortlessly segues back and forth between the wild extremes of bad girl comedy and the confusions of her alter ego, the frumpy, intimidated secretary, with Lurene in Love Field. Jonathan Kaplan's too-little seen film showcases Pfeiffer as a lonely Dallas housewife, all beehive hair and false eyelashes, who buries her frustrations in a fantasy of empathy with Jackie Kennedy, and blithely crosses the racial divide she doesn't know exists. This performance, much-lauded by those who saw it, by the critics and by the Academy, moved Hal Hinson of the Washington Post to extol Pfeiffer as "a performer who allows us direct access to her character's thoughts and feelings. This character [Lurene] is simply another in her wide-ranging gallery of vivid, complex women. She's fully alive up there on the screen: a grounded angel, tarnished, funny and exquisitely soulful, even when the movie is dead."
That is as accurate an appreciation of this actress's screen persona as one could wish for but, alas, despite the maturing of her gifts, Pfeiffer, as the 1990s wore on, began to look increasingly like an actress in search of an author, her superior gifts more often than not inadequately matched by the material in which she appeared. This, alas, is very much a sign of the Hollywood times, with celebrity taking precedence over substance, and substance itself—as the eminences grises of the profession, Meryl Streep and Glenn Close have publicly complained—in short supply for women. But Pfeiffer herself has sometimes sacrificed her judgment, wasting her gifts on specious disposable pap such as Up Close and Personal (though her eminent co-star, Robert Redford, was equally guilty), while her appearance alongside Jessica Lange and Jennifer Jason Leigh (doubtless suffering similar problems of choice) in the catastrophic adaptation of Jane Smiley's "King Lear" novel, A Thousand Acres, smacks of desperation in the search for heavyweight material.
While it is difficult to fault the actress herself in films such as Dangerous Minds, a simplistic, rose-colored view of how a feisty, dedicated teacher (Pfeiffer) overcomes the resistance of kids in an underprivileged ghetto school; or in One Fine Day, a minor, romantic, latter-day "woman's picture" no better than a TV movie, which trades on a dream team in Pfeiffer and heart-throb George Clooney, such films only serve to emphasize that the course of Pfeiffer's career, like that of several of her gifted contemporaries, has been dictated by the era from which she sprang. It is a sad but unassailable truth that the great female movie star of the Golden Age is no more. Only Julia Roberts seems to hold the drawing power that would have been familiar to a whole host of yesteryear's stars and the discerning moviegoer can only hope that approaching middle-age will bring fresh and worthy challenges to Michelle Pfeiffer, an actress of whom Jonathan Demme once said, "she can do anything. We will be moved by her in a variety of ways over the years."