Kansas-born Shirley Knight originally intended to be an opera singer until she saw a touring company of "The Lark" starring Julie Harris and switched to acting. In 1957, she headed west to study at the Pasadena Playhouse where she made her stage debut the following year in "Look Back in Anger." Knight was put under contract by Warner Bros. and the petite blonde earned critical acclaim and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination as an Oklahoman in love with a Jew in the screen adaptation of William Inge's "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs" (1960). She picked up a second nod in the same category as Heavenly Finley, the woman seduced and abandoned by Chance Wayne, in "Sweet Bird of Youth" (1962). In "The Group" (1966), her character found seeming happiness with James Broderick while later that same year she delivered a strong turn as a sluttish white woman who confronts a young black male passenger in "The Dutchman." After a strong turn as a pregnant woman who runs off with a football player in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Rain People" (1969), Knight moved to England with her second husband, British playwright John Hopkins and did not act on screen for five years, returning in "Juggernaut" (1974). Her subsequent film roles have generally cast her in maternal roles as in "Endless Love" (1981), "Stuart Saves His Family" (1995) and "As Good As It Gets" (1997).