Beth Henley

Playwright, Screenwriter, Actor
An acclaimed playwright and screenwriter, the Mississippi-raised Henley attended Southern Methodist University with the intention of pursuing an acting career. While still an undergraduate, she had her first one-act ... Read more »
Born: 05/08/1952 in Jackson, Mississippi, USA

Filmography

Writer (9)

Nobody's Fool 1994 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Miss Firecracker 1989 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Miss Firecracker 1989 (Movie)

("The Miss Firecracker Contest") (Play as Source Material)

A Family Tree 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Writer

Crimes of the Heart 1986 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Crimes of the Heart 1986 (Movie)

("Crimes of the Heart") (Play as Source Material)

Nobody's Fool 1986 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Nobody's Fool 1986 (Movie)

(From Story)

It Must be Love (TV Show)

Writer
Actor (2)

Swing Shift 1984 (Movie)

Bible Pusher (Actor)

Biography

An acclaimed playwright and screenwriter, the Mississippi-raised Henley attended Southern Methodist University with the intention of pursuing an acting career. While still an undergraduate, she had her first one-act play "Am I Blue," produced. After a brief sojourn at the University of Illinois, Henley moved to L.A. to pursue an acting career. As roles were scarce, she turned to writing, producing two works, "The Moonwatcher" and "Crimes of the Heart." A friend submitted the latter to the 1979 Great American Play Contest at the Actors Theatre of Louisville where it received first prize and a production. After several regional theater mountings, "Crimes of the Heart" opened off-Broadway to critical praise and was eventually moved to Broadway. In 1981, Henley became the first woman in over twenty years to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. While her subsequent theater pieces ("The Wake of Jamey Foster" 1982; "The Debutante Ball" 1985; "The Lucky Spot" 1986-87; and "Abundance" 1989-90) were not as successful, the playwright has generally received favorable notices. Many critics have compared her writings with those of other eccentric Southern writers like Flannery O'Connor and Eudora Welty.

Relationships

Len Gilliam

Sister

Elizabeth Caldwell

Mother
involved in local theater divorced from Henley's father c. 1968 remarried

Charles Henley

Father
involved in local politics divorced from Henley's mother c. 1968 died at age 52 in 1978

Patrick Henley

Son
born c. 1995

Stephen Tobolowsky Actor

Companion
met as college undergraduates lived together until c. 1989

EDUCATION

University of Illinois

Urbana , Illinois 1975 - 1976
studied one year for masters

Southern Methodist University

Dallas , Texas 1974
classmates included playwright James McClure and actress Patricia Richardson

Milestones

2000

Debuted new play "Family Week"

1998

Wrote play "Impossible Marriage"; produced Off-Broadway with Holly Hunter in the lead

1990

"Signatures" debuted at the New York Stage and Film Company

1989

Play "Abundance" premiered at South Coast Repertory before transferring to Off-Broadway

1987

Served as a writer for the Jonathan Demme PBS special, "A Family Tree"

1986

Solo screenwriting debut, from her story of the same title, "Nobody's Fool"

1986

Co-wrote first screenplay with David Byrne and Stephen Tobolowsky, "True Stories"

1984

Feature acting debut, cameo as a bible pusher, "Swing Shift"

1979

Wrote TV pilot for "Morgan's Daughter"

1976

Moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career

1973

Had first play produced while still a college sophomore, the one-act "Am I Blue"

Wrote draft of screenplay for the film version of the novel "The Shipping News"

Began writing "Crimes of the Heart"; first produced at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in 1979

Raised in Jackson, Mississippi

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