Leading American dramatist whose tough, socially conscious dramas achieved critical and commercial success in the 1930s and 40s. Hellman was blacklisted in 1952 for refusing to identify former leftist...
Jane Fonda raced to cast Meryl Streep in her acclaimed 1978 movie Coming Home after the newcomer left her breathless with her performance in her film debut Julia the year before. The Mamma Mia! star had a supporting role in the 1977 Lillian Hellman biopic, opposite Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave, and the On Golden Pond star still recalls the first time she saw Streep onscreen.
In a webchat with GoldDerby.com on Friday (31May13), she explains, "You wouldn't have recognised her... She had a black wig and I remember the first time I saw the rushes (review of the previous day's filming).
"It was a scene where Lillian Hellman had just opened on Broadway with her play, Little Foxes, and it was a magnificent triumph... Lillian is walking through Sardi's and the camera panned with me... and then the camera stopped and I walk off camera, and Anne Marie walks on camera and stops - and that was Meryl. What she did in just a few seconds with her face and her hand... my hair stood on end.
"I was in the process of casting Coming Home and I called my producing partner, Bruce Gilbert, and I said, 'Listen, it's a weird name, Meryl Streep, but I'm telling you not since Geraldine Page have I seen anything like this; try to get her in the part.'
"She wasn't free, she was doing a Tennessee Williams play but I feel privileged to have been present at her screen debut... It was breathtaking."
Speculation about Ephron's ill health hit the Internet on Tuesday (26Jun12), with some reports suggesting she had been battling cancer, and Hollywood gossip columnist Liz Smith revealed her family members were planning her funeral.
And now, Ephron has lost her fight for life. No further details were known as WENN went to press.
Ephron, the eldest of four sisters, was born in New York City to screenwriter parents, who moved the family to Beverly Hills in California when she was four.
Despite her love of film, Ephron majored in political science at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and briefly worked as an intern in the White House during President John F. Kennedy's term in the early 1960s. She also served as a reporter at the New York Post and wrote for publications including Esquire and The New York Times Magazine.
Her film career took off in the 1980s when her second husband Carl Bernstein's affair with Margaret Jay, the daughter of British Prime Minister James Callaghan, inspired her to write the novel Heartburn, which she adapted for the big screen in 1986.
She went on to write the BAFTA-winning screenplay for beloved romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally, which became a hit film starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. The film also earned Ephron Academy Award and Writers Guild of America nominations.
She made her directorial debut in 1992 with This Is My Life and reteamed with Ryan a year later for her first big success as a moviemaker, Sleepless in Seattle. Director and star worked together again in 1998 on the movie You've Got Mail.
Ephron was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award in 1994, and branched into theatre in the 2000s - her play Imaginary Friends, which explored the rivalry between writers Lillian Hellman and Mary McCarthy, was a hit in 2002 and her co-authored production Love, Loss, and What I Wore was a sell-out in Canada, New York and California following its debut in 2008.
Ephron's film projects in more recent years have included 2005's Bewitched and Julie & Julia in 2009.
She is survived by her third husband, screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, who she married in 1987, and sons Jacob and Max.
The Oscar-winning actress broke into acting in the 1960s on the Broadway stage, before going on to film some of the most iconic movies of all time.
To wish Dunaway a very special 70th birthday, WENN has compiled 10 fascinating facts about the onscreen siren:
- She was born Dorothy Faye Dunaway on a farm in Bascom, Florida in 1941.
- The actress has been married twice - from 1974 to 1979 to Peter Wolf, lead singer of rock group The J. Geils Band, and from 1984 to 1987 to British photographer Terry O'Neill.
- Dunaway has one son with O'Neill called Liam.
- Her breakthrough role was in 1967's Bonnie and Clyde, which catapulted her to superstardom opposite Warren Beatty. She saw off competition from Natalie Wood and Beatty's sister Shirley MacLaine to land the part.
- She auditioned for the role of Daisy in The Great Gatsby, but it went to Mia Farrow. She later called her autobiography Looking For Gatsby: My Life.
- Dunaway won a Best Actress Academy Award for 1976's Network.
- In 1977 she was offered the part of Lillian Hellman in Julia - she turned it down and the role went to Jane Fonda, who picked up a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance.
- In 1996 she converted to Roman Catholicism.
- Dunaway is one of only four actresses to win both an Oscar for Best Actress, as well as a Razzie Award for Worst Actress. The other stars boasting the same dubious honour are Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock and Liza Minnelli.
- She appears in both versions of The Thomas Crown Affair. Dunaway starred in the original 1968 film, as well as 1999's remake with Pierce Brosnan.
The Moliere classic, about a runaway student at an all-girls boarding school, is heading to the stage at The Comedy Theatre in January (11) and the 77 year old has signed on to portray the grandmother of one of the girls.
Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss and actress Carole Kane have also been added to the cast in the Lillian Hellman production.
The Children's Hour was previously turned into a 1961 movie of the same name starring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine.
Received first Academy Award nomination for adaptation of her play "The Little Foxes"
Divided childhood between NYC (where her parents lived) and New Orleans (where her father's sisters ran a boarding house)
Had Broadway success with "The Children's Hour"; Hammett had recounted a true story of two Scottish schoolteachers who lost their jobs amid rumors of a lesbian affair; Hellman reportedly later told people that Hammett wrote much of the play for which she
Solo screenwriting debut, "These Three", adapted from her play "The Children's Hour"; also first collaboration with William Wyler
Garnered second Oscar nomination for original script "The North Star"
Penned "Watch on the Rhine"
Adapted "Another Part of the Forest" for PBS
Issued first volume of memoirs, "An Unfinished Woman"
After 1925 marriage, moved to Paris briefly then returned to NYC
Had another Broadway success with "The Autumn Garden"
Translated Jean Anouilh's play ("L'Allouete") about Joan of Arc as "The Lark"
Was a book reviewer for the New York Herald Tribune
After dropping out of NYU. was hired by Horace Liveright to work as publisher's assistant
With Louis Kronenberg, wrote unproduced comedy "The Dear Queen"
Wrote the antifascist themed play "The Searching Wind"
Feature debut, co-wrote screenplay with Mordaunt Shairp, "The Dark Angel"
Enjoyed Broadway hit with "The Little Foxes"
Subpoenaed to testify before the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities; refused to name names and made now famous comment, "I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions"
Worked as a script reader
Portrayed by Jane Fonda in "Julia", a film based on parts of her book "Pentimento"; Jason Robards co-starred as Hammett
Visited Yugoslavia and interviewed Marshall Tito
Moved to Hollywood when then-husband was hired by Paramount
Debut as librettist, adapted with Richard Wilbur Voltaire's "Candide" as a stage musical with a score by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by John Latouche
Final collaboration with Wyler, adapted another screen version of "The Children's Hour"
Last original Broadway play, "Toys in the Attic", starring Jason Robards
Traveled to Europe (including a visit to Moscow); also went to Spain with Ernest Hemingway
Directed and adapted the French play "Montserrat"
Leading American dramatist whose tough, socially conscious dramas achieved critical and commercial success in the 1930s and 40s. Hellman was blacklisted in 1952 for refusing to identify former leftist associates to the House Committee on Un-American Activities with the now-famous declaration that "I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions." She was portrayed by Jane Fonda in the successful 1977 film "Julia", based on one of her short stories and by Judy Davis in the TV biography "Dash and Lilly" (A&E, 1999).
met in 1930; had on-again, off-again relationship until his death on January 10, 1961
owned Hellman Shoe Factory in New Orleans; moved family to NYC c. 1911 when business failed
was married at time of their affair
married on December 30, 1925; he filed for divorce in 1930 after Hellman engaged in public affair with Dashiel Hammett; Hellman became pregnant with his child before they married and had first of seven abortions; divorced in 1932
born c. 1913; became involved during WWII; was married at time of their relationship; later dismissed from US State Department reputedly because of his affair with Hellman and her pro-Soviet Union views
heiress; reportedly Hellman's father married her mother only for her money
New York University
In a televised interview, rival author Mary McCarthy made the now (in)famous statement, "Every word she [Hellman] writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'." Hellman filed a million-dollar slander lawsuit against McCarthy.
One Muriel Gardner claimed that her life story was actually the basis for the story of Julia that Hellman included in "Pentimento" and that formed the basis of the 1977 book. Gardner also claimed that she had never met Lillian Hellman.
"Lillian was a celebrity hound." --Martha's Vineyard resident Carly Simon on her famous neighbor.
"When I first went out to Hollywood one heard talk from writers about whoring. But you are not tempted to whore unless you want to be a whore." --Lillian Hellman quoted in "Playwrights at Work: The Paris Review Interviews", edited by George Plimpton, (Modern Library, 2000).