Barbara Hershey
Birth Date:
February 5, 1948
Birth Place:
Hollywood, California, USA
5' 5" (1.65 m)
Famous for:
Her role in 'Last Summer' (1970)
Show more

The Portrait of a Lady


“I am afraid of being lazy and complacent. I am afraid of taking myself too seriously.” Barbara Hershey

Barbara Hershey did not really enjoy success until the 1980s. First gaining notice in Richard Rush's “The Stunt Man” (1980), she appeared in such high-profile films as Philip Kaufman's “The Right Stuff” (1983), Barry Levinson's “The Natural” (1984) and “Tin Men” (1987), Woody Allen's “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986) and David Anspaugh's “Hoosiers” (1986). She eventually attained star status thanks to Andrei Konchalovsky's “Shy People” (1987) and Chris Menges' “A World Apart” (1988).She also picked up a Golden Globe nomination for her scene-stealing role of Mary Magdalene in Martin Scorsese's “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988), her second partnership with the director after 1972's “Boxcar Bertha.”

One of the most acclaimed American actresses of her generation, Hershey, who previously co-won a Western Heritage Award for her work in the 1966 Western TV series “The Monroes,” gained attention on television with her Emmy and Golden Globe-winning portrayal of real-life murderess Candy Morrison in the CBS made-for-TV drama “A Killing in a Small Town” (1990). The following year, she was nominated for an Emmy for her work in the Showtime film “Paris Trout” (1991).

Hershey scored her next big breakthrough with her supporting role of Madame Merle in Jane Campion's period drama, “A Portrait of a Lady” (1996), from which she attained a National Society of Film Critics Award, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award and Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. Her more recent and upcoming projects include “A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries” (1998, with Kris Kristofferson), “Breakfast of Champions” (1999, with Bruce Willis), “The Staircase” (1998, TV), “Lantana” (2001), “11:14” (2003), “Riding the Bullet” (2004), The Bird Can't Fly” (2007), “Uncross the Stars” (2008), “Childless (2008), “Son of Mourning” (2008) and “Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning (2009, TV). She also played regular roles on CBS' “Chicago Hope” (1999-2000) and WB's “The Mountain” (2004-2005).

Hershey was married to Stephen Douglas from 1992 to 1993. She is the mother of a son, Tom Carradine, who was fathered by former long-term companion actor David Carradine. Currently, she lives with “Lost” star Naveen Andrews, who is 21 years younger that her.


Childhood and Family:

Barbara Lynn Herzstein was born on February 5, 1948, in Hollywood, California. The daughter of a Jewish American father who wrote columns for horse-racing and an Irish American mother attended Hollywood High School, where she became a member of the drill team. An active youth, Barbara also took acting lessons during high school.

At age 25, Barbara changed her last name to “Seagull” after accidentally killing one. However, after two years, she changed her name back.

Barbara lived with actor David Carradine from 1969 to 1975. The couple has a son named Tom Carradine. On August 8, 1992, she married Stephen Douglas, but they divorced in 1993.

A Killing in a Small Town


Barbara Hershey had ambitions of appearing in movies as a little girl. A quiet girl, she acted out stories in her backyard and in high school, she participated in school plays. In one of her performances, Herzstein caught the eye of an agent and by the time she was 17 years old, she had made her professional debut in three episodes of the teen television series “Gidget” (1965-1966). Before long, she moved on to become a regular character on the Western series “The Monroes” (1966-1967). Starring alongside Michael Anderson Jr., she jointly won a Bronze Wrangler for Best Fictional Television Drama from the 1967 Western Heritage Awards. She then made a series of guest appearances in such shows as “The Invaders” and “The High Chaparral.”

Hershey was seen on the big screen in 1968 when she landed the supporting role of Stacy Iverson in the Howard Morris comedy “With Six You Get Eggroll,” starring Doris Day and Brian Keith. The following year, she was cast opposite Glenn Ford and Carolyn Jones in the Western film “Heaven With a Gun,” playing an Indian girl named Leloopa, and had her first starring role in the drama “Last Summer,” for director Frank Perry. Her performance in the latter film brought her a Golden Laurel nomination for Female New Face. Hershey was next seen in the drama “The Liberation of L.B. Jones” (1970), “The Baby Maker” (1970), “The Pursuit of Happiness” (1971) and “Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues” (1972) before starring in then-nameless Martin Scorsese’s drama “Boxcar Bertha” (1972). There she was cast alongside then-boyfriend David Carradine, who later directed Hershey and her father in the drama film “Americana” (made in 1973, released in 1983).

Billed as Barbara Seagull after “Boxcar Bertha,” Hershey appeared as a guest star in the TV series “Love Story” (1973) and “Kung Fu” (1974) and in the films “Love Comes Quietly” (1973), “You and Me” (1975) and “Diamonds” (1975). After dropping the “Seagull” surname, she resurfaced in the Western “The Last Hard Men” (1976) and the comedy “Choice of Weapons” (1976). She then returned to television to star with Robert Culp and Martin Milner in the disaster film “Flood” (1976). She also acted in the miniseries “A Man Called Intrepid” (1979) and the NBC remake series “From Here to Eternity” (1980), playing Karen Holmes.

Hershey was next seen in the Richard Rush-helmed “The Stunt Man,” where she received good reviews for her portrayal of actress Nina Franklin, opposite the Oscar nominee Peter O'Toole, who portrayed director Eli Cross. She went on to appear in the indie-comedy “Take This Job and Shove It” (1981) and offered a fine performance as Carla Moran in the horror film “The Entity” (1981), for which she picked up a 1983 Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival award for Best Actress.

Once regarded as an emerging star, by this point Hershey was often ignored by Hollywood noted filmmakers. However, in 1983, she received a small part in “The Right Stuff,” an acclaimed drama directed by Philip Kaufman. The next year, she had another small but important role in the Barry Levinson’s “The Natural” and was seen in the biopic “My Wicked, Wicked Ways” (1985) and the drama “Passion Flower” (1986). Hershey further proved she was back on the track when Woody Allen hired her to play the role of Lee, Hannah's sister, in the comedy “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986). She was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her work in the Oscar winner. She followed it up by costarring with Gene Hackman in the high-profile film “Hoosiers” (1986), directed by David Anspaugh, and was reuniting with Barry Levinson for the comedy “Tin Men” (1987), opposite Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito.

In 1987, Hershey landed the starring role of Ruth in the Andrei Konchalovsky brilliant drama “Shy People,” alongside Jill Clayburgh. When the film debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May 1987, the talented actress successfully brought home the Best Actress honor at the world's prestigious festival. Her fine performance also won a 1989 Chicago Film Critics Association in the same category. Hershey again enjoyed success at Cannes when she nabbed her next Best Actress Award for her work in the drama “A World Apart” (1988). She was then reunited with Martin Scorsese for “The Last Temptation of Christ,” in which her role as Mary Magdalene won a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, and costarred with Bette Midler in the Garry Marshall's “Beaches.”

Back to the small screen, Hershey took on the starring role of accused murderer Candy Morrison in the CBS television film “A Killing in a Small Town” (1990) and under the direction of Stephen Gyllenhaal, she was handed an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special and a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV. She next appeared in Showtime's “Paris Trout” (1991, received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special), the miniseries “Return to Lonesome Dove” (CBS, 1993) and the TNT biblical drama “Abraham” (1994). Meanwhile, on the silver screen, she appeared in such projects as “Tune in Tomorrow” (1990), “Defenseless” (1991), “The Public Eye” (1992), “Falling Down” and “Swing Kids” (both 1993).

After the western “Last of the Dogmen” (1995), with Tom Berenger, Hershey gave a memorable turn in “The Pallbearer” (1996). She then portrayed the manipulative Madame Serena Merle in the Jane Campion adaptation of the Henry James' novel “The Portrait of a Lady” (1996) and nabbed a National Society of Film Critics and a Los Angeles Film Critics Association award for Best Supporting Actress.

Hershey filled in the rest of the decade with performances in “Frogs for Snakes” (1998), “A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries” (1998), “Drowning on Dry Land” (1999), “Breakfast of Champions” (1999) and “Passion: The Story of Percy Grainger” (1999). In addition, she starred in the CBS TV-movie “The Staircase” (1998) and returned to series TV as a regular in the CBS drama series “Chicago Hope” (1999), where she played Dr. Francesca Alberghetti in 22 episodes until 2000.

After leaving “Chicago Hope,” Hershey had a supporting role on the Australian drama “Lantana” (2001) and was seen in the TV films “Daniel Deronda” (2002), “Hunger Point” (2003), “The Stranger Beside Me” (2003) and “Paradise” (2004). She was then cast as Gennie Carver on the short-lived WB series “The Mountain” (2004-2005), opposite Oliver Hudson and Anson Mount. She returned to film in Greg Marcks' “11:14” (2003) and “Riding the Bullet” (2004), adapted from the novel by Stephen King. Three years later, in 2007, she acted in “The Bird Can't Fly” and “Love Comes Lately.”

Recently, Hershey completed “Uncross the Stars” (2008) and the drama “Childless (2008). She will also appear with Heather Graham in “Son of Mourning” (2008). On television, Hershey is scheduled to portray older Anne Shirley on the drama/family film “Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning (2009).


  • DVD Exclusive: Best Supporting Actress (in a DVD Premiere Movie), “11:14,” 2006

  • Munich Film Festival: CineMerit Award, 2002

  • IF: Best Actress, “Lantana,” 2001

  • National Society of Film Critics: Best Supporting Actress, “The Portrait of a Lady,” 1997

  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association: Best Supporting Actress, “The Portrait of a Lady,” 1996

  • Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, “A Killing in a Small Town,” 1991

  • Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special, “A Killing in a Small Town,” 1990

  • Chicago Film Critics Association: Best Actress, “Shy People,” 1989

  • Cannes Film Festival: Best Actress, “A World Apart,” 1988

  • Cannes Film Festival: Best Actress, “Shy People,” 1987

  • Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival: Best Actress, “The Entity,” 1983

  • Western Heritage: Bronze Wrangler, Fictional Television Drama, “The Monroes,” 1967

Show Less