The Godfather Legacy
"He's the best director in the world, period." Talia Shire (on her famous brother, Francis Ford Coppola)
Academy Award-nominated actress Talia Shire, the daughter of arranger/conductor Carmine Coppola and sister to acclaimed filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, became famous for her roles as Connie Corleone, the youngest child and only daughter of Don Vito Corleone (played by Marlon Brando) and Carmella Corleone (played by Morgana King), in the critically acclaimed "The Godfather" trilogy (1972; 1974; 1990), and as the painfully shy Adrianna "Adrian" Pennino, the love interest and eventual wife of boxer Rocky Balboa (played by Sylvester Stallone), in the “Rocky” movies (1976; 1979; 1982; 1985; 1990; 2006). She will next be seen in the upcoming films "Looking for Palladin," "Pizza with Bullets," "Scratching the Surface," and "The House of Terror."
The 5' 4" Italian/American actress/producer has been married twice, once to composer and songwriter David Shire (1970-1978) and once to producer Jack Schwartzman (1980 until his death in 1994), with whom she two sons, actors/musicians Jason and Robert Schwartzman.
Childhood and Family:
"In an Italian family, once you get that 'she's the baby' stuck on you, it's hard to shake. Your opinion is invited, but you have to sort of sneak it in and speak in a small voice. I must say, it's very tiring. I don't' think I've ever raised my voice to those two. But that's okay. We women endure. I got to emerge later on." Talia Shire
The youngest child and the only daughter born to arranger/conductor Carmine Coppola (born in 1910; died in 1991; involved in the early years of the Italian film industry; scored "The Godfather, Part II" (1974)) and Italia Pennino, Talia Rose Coppola was born on April 25, 1946, in Lake Success, Long Island, New York. She was raised "on the road" by her father who was touring with Broadway musicals. She is the youngest sister of August Floyd Coppola (born in 1934; served as the dean of San Francisco State University) and five-time Academy Award-winning American film director, producer, and screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola (born April 7, 1939), who directed her in "The Godfather" trilogy.
Her grandfather is Francesco Pennino (her character in “Rocky” was named after him) and her uncles are conductor Antonio Coppola (born in 1917; conducted symphony orchestras for opera companies and Broadway musicals like "My Fair Lady"), Archimedes Coppola (born in 1909; died in 1927), and Michael Coppola (born in 1914).
Talia is the aunt of director Christopher Coppola (born in 1962; father, August Coppola; directed her in "Deadfall"), Gian-Carlo Coppola (born in 1963; killed in a boating accident in 1986; father, Francis Ford Coppola), Marc Coppola (born in 1957; son of August Coppola), Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage (born in 1964; father, August Coppola), Roman Coppola (born in 1965; son of Francis Ford Coppola), and director Sofia Coppola (born in 1971; father, Francis Ford Coppola; married to director Spike Jonze).
Talia, nicknamed Tally, bounced in and out of school during her teenage years before eventually attended the School of Drama at Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut, on a scholarship. However, she dropped out in the middle of her second year and headed to the West Coast where she found work on stage and in low-budget features produced by legendary filmmaker Roger Corman for American International Pictures.
"From the time we first dated, we were always together. Six months later, I asked him to marry me." Talia Shire (on then-husband David Shire)
On March 29, 1970 Talia married composer and songwriter David Shire (born on July 3, 1937; best known for his work on “The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3” (1972) and “Zodiac” (2007). They have one son, Matthew Orlando Shire, who was born on September 18, 1975. After their divorce in 1978, Talia tied the knot with producer Jack Schwartzman (born on July 22, 1932) on August 23, 1980, and was his wife until his death (of pancreatic cancer) on June 15, 1994. She has two children with him; actors/musicians Jason Schwartzman (born on June 26, 1980) and Robert Schwartzman (born on December 24, 1982). She also has one step-daughter, Stephanie Schwartzman, and one step-son named John Schwartzman.
"All actresses should have babies. There are certain dynamics that change when you have a baby. For me, there was a kind of confidence I hadn’t had before. I’d come of age. The baby of the family had had a baby. I’d finally left my family and had a family of my own." Talia Shire
Talia is good friends with “Rocky” co-star Burt Young and the two have been in many movies together.
"At first I didn’t dare to have the ambition to be a professional actress. I wanted to be a choreographer. I loved ballet. I loved listening to music late at night and thinking of contemporary dance." Talia Shire
Raised "on the road" by her father, Talia Shire became interested in acting and honed in on her craft at Yale University's School of Drama, which she left in the middle of her sophomore year to began a theatrical career in Los Angeles.
She first appeared in low-budget features produced by legendary filmmaker Roger Corman for American International Pictures, including the independent action/drama “Wild Racers” (1968; starring Fabian), the horror “The Dunwich Horror” (1970; starring Sandra Dee and Dean Stockwell), and “Gas-s-s-s” (1971), in which she was billed as Talia Coppola.
In 1972, Shire got her big break when her brother Francis Ford Coppola cast her as Connie Corleone, the youngest child and only daughter of Don Vito Corleone (played by Marlon Brando) and Carmella Corleone (played by Morgana King), in the critically acclaimed epic mafia film based on the novel by Mario Puzo, "The Godfather." The film, which scooped up three Academy Awards, one for Best Actor (Marlon Brando), Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay, is now ranked as the second greatest film in American cinematic history.
When asked why he cast his sister in his film, director Francis Ford Coppola explained, "I figured that I was probably not going to direct 'The Godfather,' that I was going to be ousted, so I thought that at least it would be good if my little sister got the part. I cast her. I wouldn't have stood between her and the role and I was happy that she was in the film."
Shire reprised her role as Connie in the sequel "The Godfather, Part II" (1974) and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She was seen again in the role of Connie in the third and final film in the Godfather trilogy, "The Godfather: Part III" (1990).
Meanwhile, in 1976, Shire secured another prominent role, this time as Adrian Pennino, a painfully shy pet store clerk and the love interest to the titular boxer (played by Sylvester Stallone), in the John G. Avildsen-directed sports film "Rocky." The film won three Oscars, including one for Best Picture, and Shire also received a nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Additionally, she was nominated for Best Motion Picture Actress – Drama at the Golden Globes and won Best Supporting Actress from the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) and the National Board of Review (NBR).
On the early days of “Rocky” pre-production, Sylvester Stallone recalled, "We were having difficulty casting the role of Adrian. I had remembered Talia Shire from 'The Godfather' and asked that she come in. She came in. She wore glasses; her hair was short and dark; she was almost the opposite of the way I had pictured Adrian. She came in with enthusiasm and gave one of the finer improvisational readings I had seen since working on the film. And at the very end of the improvisation, she reeled back and gave me a couple shots in the jaw playfully, as though she were a fighter. I felt that she had achieved near total control over the character even in this sort span of time and I wanted her badly and screamed and yelled and made everyone around me uncomfortable until finally they said, 'Okay, you've got her!' which was an incredibly great coup for all of us."
Shire later reprised the role in four sequels as Rocky's wife: "Rocky II" (1979), "Rocky III" (1982), Rocky IV" (1985; earned her a Worst Supporting Actress nomination at the Razzie Awards), "Rocky V" (1990; earned her a Worst Actress nomination at the Razzie Awards) and "Rocky Balboa" (2006).
"I have a feeling when I'm 80 years old I'm going to get a phone call: There's going to be another 'Rocky.’" Talia Shire
During this time, Shire appeared in her first major TV role, alongside Peter Strauss, Nick Nolte and Susan Blakely, in "Rich Man, Poor Man," a highly-rated, phenomenally successful 1976 television miniseries adapted from a bestselling novel written by Irwin Shaw. She also received a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Actress for her turn as a beautiful woman who becomes the subject of a perverse obsession by a lesbian neighbor (played by Elizabeth Ashley), in Gordon Willis' dramatic thriller "Windows" (1980), and was featured as Heather McComb's divorced mother and a photographer, in the anthology film "New York Stories" (1989), in the segment "Life Without Zoe," which was written by her brother Francis Ford Coppola.
Shire formed the Taliafilm II production company with husband Jack Schwartzman and later changed its name to Schwartzman Productions. In the mid 1990s, she made a feature directorial debut with the independent dramatic thriller "One Night Stand" (1995; starring Ally Sheedy), which was co-produced by Roger Corman, husband Jack Schwartzman, and brother Francis Ford Coppola. She also served as the associate producer of Robert Malenfant's thriller film "The Landlady" (1998), in which she also starred as the title role of a landlady who starts to wreak havoc as she becomes obsessed with a hunky tenant (played by Jack Coleman).
Entering the new millennium, Shire added to her resume roles in Jordan Walker-Pearlman's independent drama film based on a play by Kosmond Russell, "The Visit" (2000), George Zaloom's independent romantic comedy "The Whole Shebang" (2001; with Stanley Tucci, Bridget Fonda, and Giancarlo Giannini), and writer/director Vanessa Parise's romantic drama/comedy "Kiss the Bride" (2002). She also could be seen in "Family Tree" (2003), a heart-warming family/drama/comedy by Vicky Jenson, "Dunsmore" (2003), a drama by Peter Spirer, and "I Heart Huckabees" (2004), an existential comedy by David O. Russell starring her son Jason Schwartzman.
Recently, Shire appeared in Kraig Kuzirian's drama film "Pomegranate" (2005) and writer/director/actor Adam Rifkin's comedy "Homo Erectus" (2007). TV viewers could catch her in the made-for-television movies "Blue Smoke" (2007), based on Nora Roberts' novel and starring Alicia Witt, and "Christmas at Cadillac Jack's" (2007), a family movie. She also appeared in a TV commercial for Geico Insurance (as the caveman's therapist) and in Rooney's music video for their lead single "When Did Your Heart Go Missing" from their second album "Calling the World" (2007).
Shire has completed filming "Looking for Palladin," a comedy by writer/director Andrzej Krakowski, and is now working on her upcoming film projects: "Pizza with Bullets," a comedic mafia movie by Robert Rothbard starring Vincent Pastore, "Scratching the Surface," a romantic comedy by Mary Frymire in which she plays Laura Buckles' eccentric landlord, and "The House of Terror," a horror/thriller by Peter Engert.
New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC): Best Supporting Actress, "Rocky," 1977
National Board of Review (NBR): Best Supporting Actress, "Rocky," 1976