“Nobody thought of me as an actress. They just remembered that publicity story about my munching flower petals for breakfast. I even thought of giving up the name 'Piper Laurie' because I felt there was a stigma attached to it. I never could figure out just how many parts I lost and how many parts I won because of this name. I know some producers and directors said, 'Well, maybe she can act even if her name is Piper Laurie!.” Piper Laurie
Piper Laurie is a three time Academy Award nominating and Golden Globe winning American actress. She received her first Oscar nomination for her role as Paul Newman's girlfriend in “The Hustler” (1961), from which she also earned a BAFTA nomination, and her last two nominations for her scene stealing roles in “Carrie” (1976, also earned a Golden Globe nomination) and “Children of a Lesser God” (1986). Her other notable film credits include “Return to Oz” (1985), “Appointment with Death” (1988), “The Grass Harp” (1995), “The Faculty” (1998) and “The Mao Game” (1999). On the small screen, Laurie is best known for playing Catherine Martel on the television series “Twin Peaks” (1990-1991), from which she picked up her Golden Globe. The role also brought the actress two Emmy nominations and two Soap Opera Digest nominations. Laurie won an Emmy Award for her performance in “Promise” (1986) for “Hallmark Hall of Fame.” She also gained Emmy nominations for her performances in “ The Deaf Heart” (1957), “The Days of Wine and Roses” (1958), “The Bunker” (1981), “The Thorn Birds ” (1983), “St. Elsewhere” (1983) and “Frasier” (1999). Laurie also has acted in several stage productions.
Laurie has a daughter, Anne Grace Morgenstern, with her former husband, Joe Morgenstern, whom she married for 20 years between 1962 and 1982.
Childhood and Family:
Piper Laurie was born Rosetta Jacobs on January 22, 1932, in Detroit, Michigan, to a Polish immigrant father, Alfred Jacobs, who was a furniture dealer, and a Russian American mother, Charlotte Sadie Jacobs. Her father moved the family to Los Angeles, California when she was six. Rosetta was a beautiful red haired little girl, but very timid. Therefore, her parents enrolled her in elocution and acting classes. It was not long before she developed an interest in performance. At age 17, while at an acting school, she was spotted by an agent from Universal Studios, who subsequently changed her screen name to Piper Laurie. She graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1950.
When “The Hustler” was being released (1961), Laurie was interviewed by New York Herald Tribune Entertainment writer Joe Morgenstern( born October 3, 1932) and was attracted to him. Nine months later, they married on January 21, 1962, and later moved to Woodstock, New York. They welcomed a daughter, Anne Grace Morgenstern, in 1971, but divorced later on November 24, 1982. Laurie has an older sister named Sherrye Arlene Jacobs.
Piper Laurie signed contract with Universal International when she was 17 years old. She made her feature acting debut in “Louisa” (1950), a comedy helmed by Alexander Hall and starring Ronald Reagan and Spring Byington in the title role. There she was cast as Reagan's daughter, Cathy Norton. The same year, she played the daughter of Jimmy Durante, Chris Abbott, on the film “The Milkman,” which was directed by Charles Barton. For the next five years, Laurie worked in a number of films, such as “Francis Goes to the Races” (1951), “The Prince Who Was a Thief” (1951), which marked her first collaboration with Tony Curtis, “No Room for the Groom” (1952), “ Has Anybody Seen My Gal” (1952), “Son of Ali Baba” (1952), “ The Mississippi Gambler” (1953), “The Golden Blade” (1953), “Dangerous Mission” (1954), “Johnny Dark” (1954), “Dawn at Socorro” (1954), “Smoke Signal” (1955) and “Ain't Misbehavin'” (1955), but dissatisfaction against the quality of projects eventually led her to break her studio contract and leave Hollywood for New York.
Laurie quickly plunged into the world of live television. After making her TV debut in an episode of “ The Best of Broadway” called “Broadway” (1955), she appeared in “Quality Town” (1955), “Winter Dreams” (1956), “The Road That Led Afar” (1956) and “The Ninth Day” (1957) before receiving her first Emmy nomination for Actress - Best Single Performance - Lead or Support for her portrayal of Ruth Cornelius in “The Deaf Heart” (1957) for “Studio One in Hollywood.” Her bright turn as the alcoholic wife of Cliff Robertson in “The Days of Wine and Roses” (1958) for “Playhouse 90” earned her another Emmy nomination for Best Single Performance by an Actress. She also appeared in “The Changing Ways of Love” (1957), “The Innocent Assassin” (1959), “Caesar and Cleopatra” (1959), “You Can't Have Everything” (1960) and “Legend of Lovers” (1960), among other TV projects.
Laurie returned to Hollywood in 1957 and resumed her film career by co-starring with Jean Simmons, Paul Newman and Joan Fontaine in “Until They Sail” (1957), distributed by MGM. Her film career gained significant boost when she was cast along side Paul Newman in the film adaptation of Walter Tevis' “The Hustler” (1961), which was directed and co-written by Robert Rossen. As the halting girlfriend, Sarah Packard, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role and a BAFTA Film Award for Best Foreign Actress, and earned 2nd place for Golden Laurel in the category of Top Female Dramatic Performance. “The Hustler” was a major critical and popular success. It marked her last film for 15 years.
Unfortunately, significant movie roles did not come her was after “The Hustler,” and Laurie found herself working mostly for television. Among her television credits during this period included appearances in episodes of “ The United States Steel Hour,” “Naked City,” “Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre,” “ Ben Casey,” “The Eleventh Hour” and “Breaking Point.” By 1964, she had moved to Woodstock, New York with her husband, where she concentrated on raising her family, in addition to working on poetry, paintings and sculptures. She did not take an acting job until 1967 when she assumed the role of Laura in the 20th anniversary production of “ The Glass Menagerie”on Broadway. She followed it up with a role in John Guare's “Marco Polo Sings a Solo” (1973).
Laurie, however, did not resume her film career until three years
later. In 1976, she was cast as Margaret White, Sissy Space's
fiercely religious and labile mother, in the supernatural horror film
“Carrie,” which was adapted from the novel of the same
name by Stephen King. Under the direction of Brian De Palma, Spacek
and Laurie were nominated for Academy Award for Best Actress in a
Leading Role and Best Actress in a Supporting Role, respectively,
with Laurie also receiving a Golden Globe nomination in the same
category. “Carrie” was a success at the box office by
grossing over $33.8 million against a budget of $1.8 million.
Laurie next had the title role in Curtis Harrington's horror flick, “Ruby” (1977), played Julie Quinlan in the made for TV film “In the Matter of Karen Ann Quinlan” (1977), worked with Asher Brauner, Rudy Solari and Rita Moreno in Bobby Roth's crime/drama film “The Boss' Son” (1978), supported Andrea McArdle, Don Murray and Michael Parks in the Emmy Award winning TV film “Rainbow” (1978) and was cast as a widow who hires a mentally challenged handyman in the Australian romance/drama film “Tim” (1979), which was written and directed by Michael Pate, based on the 1974 novel of the same title by Colleen McCullough.
In 1980, Laurie was cast as Karl Malden's wife on the short lived television series “Skag,” which aired on NBC from January 6 to February 21, 1980. The series pilot episode received critical praise and high ratings, but ratings rapidly decreased and NBC canceled the series after five episodes. In the following year, she gave an intense performance as Magda Goebbels, the wife of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, on the CBS TV film “The Bunker,” from which she received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Special.
Following her divorce, Laurie relocated to California, and in 1983, she gained her fourth Emmy nomination as well as her secodn Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of Anne Mueller in the monster hit miniseries “The Thorn Birds ” (ABC, 1983). The same year, she joined the cast of the NBC medical series “St. Elsewhere” in the recurring role of Fran Singleton, a stroke victim. She was nominated for a 1984 Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her performance in the episode “Lust Et Veritas” (1983).
During 1985-1989, Laurie guest starred in television series like “ Murder, She Wrote,” “Hotel,” “ The Twilight Zone,” “ Matlock,” “Beauty and the Beast,” as well as acted in the TV films “Love, Mary,” “ Toughlove,” “Go Toward the Light” and the TV miniseries “ Tender Is the Night.” She also finely portrayed Annie Gilbert in the “Hallmark Hall of Fame” episode, “Promise” (1986), opposite James Garner and James Woods, and won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Special and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV for the performance. Laurie also appeared in several films during the years. She played Auntie Em in the installment “Return to Oz” (1985), was cast as Mrs. Norman, Marlee Matlin's estrange mother, in the Randa Haines helmed drama “Children of a Lesser God” (1987), for which she received her third Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and co-starred with Olivia Hussey and Steve Railsback in the thriller “Distortions” (1987). She also starred as Emily Boynton in the British mystery film “Appointment with Death” (1988), an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel of the same name, co-starred with Patrick Swayze in “Tiger Warsaw” (1988) and portrayed Gena Ettinger in Marc Rocco's ten movie, “Dream a Little Dream” (1989).
Laurie's television career gained further boost when she landed the role of Catherine Martell on the critically acclaimed ABC serial drama “Twin Peaks” (ABC, 1990-1991), opposite Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick and Dana Ashbrook, among other actors. The role brought her a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, and two Soap Opera Digest nominations for Outstanding Villainess: Prime Time and Outstanding Actress: Prime Time.
Next up for Laurie, she could be seen in such films as “Other People's Money” (1991, with Danny DeVito, Penelope Ann Miller and Gregory Peck), “Storyville” (1992, with James Spader, Joanne Whalley and Jason Robards), “Rich in Love” (1992), “Trauma” (1993), “ Love, Lies & Lullabies” (1993, TV), “ Wrestling Ernest Hemingway” (1993), “Shadows of Desire” (1994, TV), “Fighting for My Daughter” (1995, TV), Charles Matthau's “The Grass Harp” (1995), where she won a Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Sissy Spacek's sister, Dolly Talbo, “ The Crossing Guard” (1995), “The Road to Galveston” (1996, TV), “ In the Blink of an Eye” (1996, TV), “ St. Patrick's Day” (1997), “ Intensity” (1997), “A Christmas Memory” (1997, TV), “The Faculty” (1998), “ Palmer's Pick Up” (1999), “ Inherit the Wind” (1999, TV) and “The Mao Game” (1999), from which she netted American Independent Award for Special Jury Prize and Golden Space Needle Award for Best Actress at the 19999 Seattle International Film Festival for her portrayal of Ida Highland. Besides, she had a regular role in the short lived series “Traps” (1994) and guest starred in television series like “ER” (1995-1996, as Sarah Ross), “ Diagnosis Murder” (1996), “ Touched by an Angel” (1997), “ Partners” (1999) and “Brother's Keeper” (1999). She received her ninth Emmy nomination for her guest appearance as Mrs. Mulhern in an episode of “Frasier” called “Dr. Nora” (1999). On stage, Laurie co-starred in an off Broadway production of Larry Kramer's “The Destiny of Me” (1993).
Entering the new millennium, Laurie co-starred in the based on fact Showtime drama “Possessed” (2000), with Timothy Dalton, Henry Czerny and Jonathan Malen, reunited with Sissy Spacek for the made for TV film “Midwives” (2001) and worked with Sidney Poitier and Cody Newton in the CBS drama film “The Last Brickmaker in America” (2001). She also guest starred in “Will & Grace” (2000), “ Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (2001) and “State of Grace” (2002). In 2004, she co-starred with Ray Romano, Jesse Bradford and Hank Azaria in the black comedy “Eulogy” and guest starred in an episode of “Dead Like Me.”
After guest starring role in “Cold Case” (2005), Laurie worked in the films “Bad Blood” (2006), “The Dead Girl” (2006), “Hounddog” (2007), “Bad Blood... the Hunger” (2009), “Another Harvest Moon” (2009) and “Saving Grace B. Jones” (2009). In 2010, she played Madeleine Forney in the drama film “Hesher,” which was written and directed by Spencer Susser and starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rainn Wilson, and Natalie Portman.
Seattle International Film Festival: American Independent Award, Special Jury Prize, “The Mao Game,” 1999
Seattle International Film Festival: Golden Space Needle Award, Best Actress, “The Mao Game,” 1999
Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA): Best Supporting Actress, “The Grass Harp,” 1997
Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, “Twin Peaks,” 1991
Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Special, “Hallmark Hall of Fame,” For episode “Promise,” 1987
Hasty Pudding Theatricals: Woman of the Year, 1962
Golden Laurel: 2nd place, Top Female Dramatic Performance, “The Hustler,” 1962