Sally Kirkland
Birth Date:
October 31, 1944
Birth Place:
New York, New York, USA
5' 10" (1.78 m)
Famous for:
Oscar nominee for 'Anna' (1987)
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“When I was growing up watching Marilyn Monroe, I learned that you can be very beautiful, very glamorous and very vulnerable and not give up your soul just because you are a movie star.” Sally Kirkland

American actress Sally Kirkland is perhaps best known for her Oscar nominated performance in Yurek Bogayevicz's “Anna” (1987), from which she also received a Golden Globe Award, an Independent Spirit Award and a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her role in the TV film “The Haunted” (1991) and won the California Independent Film Festival Award for her work in the short “Blind Spot” (2007, also served as an associate producer). A former Vogue model, Kirkland began her acting career in 1960 and has since appeared in over 150 projects. Other films in which she has appeared in include “The Sting” (1973), “Private Benjamin” (1980), “JFK” (1991), “Excess Baggage” (1997), “The Island” (1998), “EDtv” (1999), “Bruce Almighty” (2003), “Mango Kiss” (2004), “Coffee Date” (2006), “Factory Girl” (2006), “Big Stan” (2007), “Fingerprints” (2008) and “Richard III” (2008). She has also appeared in the TV series “The Nanny,” “Roseanne,” “Felicity,” “Valley of the Dolls,” “Days of Our Lives” and “Head Case,” among others. On stage, Kirkland first attracted attention with her nude performance in a 1968 production of “Sweet Eros,” by Terrence McNally. She later gained critical praise for her work in “Woman Beware of Woman” (1985), “Largo Desolato” (1986), “Woman in Mind” (1991), “Twelfth Night” and “In the Boom Boom Room,” among other plays. She has also directed and produced several stage productions.

Kirkland received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2005 LA Femme Film Festival. She is an ordained minister of the Church of The Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness and teaches classes that combine drama, yoga and meditation. She is also a health activist and has advocated for women injured by breast implants. In August 1998, she founded the Kirkland Institute for Implant Survival Syndrome. She later joined Arun Gandhi, who is the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, in a peace march in Los Angeles in October 2006.

Daughter of Fashion Editor

Childhood and Family:

“I grew up in a house on 89th Street that was always full of these gorgeous models: Verushka, Ali MacGraw, Lauren Hutton. No matter what I did, I would be the ugly duckling. As a little girl, I figured I'd have to be the most famous actress in the world...” Sally Kirkland

Sally Kirkland was born on October 31, 1941, in New York City, New York, but grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was named after her mother, Sally Kirkland, who was a fashion editor at Vogue and LIFE magazines. Sally's father, Frederic McMichael Kirkland, was an affluent scrap iron vendor. Sally was a goddaughter of actress Sally Winters. After a career in modeling, she studied at the Actors Studio in New York under Lee Strassberg and Uta Hagen.

The Haunted


Sally Kirkland had a bit part in the film “Crack in the Mirror” (1960, starred Orson Welles) and appeared as a dancer in the musical “Hey, Let's Twist” (1961) before kicking off her stage career in 1962. Her Broadway debut arrived later in 1962 with “Step on a Crack.” She became active in theatre in New York in the 1960s, but did not make a significant impact until she starred in a production of Terrence McNally's “Sweet Eros,” which opened off-Broadway at New York City's Gramercy Arts Theatre on November 21, 1968. The play stirred a sensation at its premiere because Kirkland appeared nude for most of the play.

Kirkland first worked with Andy Warhol in the underground short “The Thirteen Most Beautiful Women” (1964). It was also during this time that she began using drugs. She later quit drugs after an unsuccessful suicide attempt.

Kirkland next landed the supporting role of Sarah Lambert in the western “Blue” (1968), costarred with Rip Torn in Milton Moses Ginsberg's “Coming Apart” and recreated her stage role of Merry Lee in the big screen version of “Futz” (1969). After being featured in the play “One Night Stands of a Noisy Passenger” (1970), the playwriting debut of her godmother Shelley Winters, she made her Hollywood film debut in “Going Home” (1971), a drama helmed by Herbert B. Leonard that starred Robert Mitchum. She resurfaced with roles in “The Young Nurses,” “The Way We Were,” “Cinderella Liberty” and “The Sting” (1973, directed by George Roy Hill and starred Paul Newman and Robert Redford, all 1973), “Candy Stripe Nurses,” “Big Bad Mama” (both 1974), “The Noah,” “Bite the Bullet,” “Crazy Mama,” “Showdown at Breakheart Pass” (all 1975), “Pipe Dreams,” “A Star Is Born” (both 1976), “Flush” and “Tracks” (both 1977). She then appeared in “Hometown USA” and “La ilegal” (both 1979) and made guest appearances in the TV series “Hawaii Five-O” (1 episode, 1973), “Bronk” (1 episode, 1975), “Baretta” (1 episode, 1976), “The Rookies” (1 episode, 1976), “Kojak” (3 episodes, 1974-1978), “Starsky and Hutch” (1 episode, 1978), “The Incredible Hulk” (1 episode, 1978), and “Lou Grant” (1 episode, 1978), to name a few. She also acted with Raul Julia in the television movie “Death Scream” (1975). Subsequent TV movie credits include “The Kansas City Massacre” (1975), “Griffin and Phoenix: A Love Story” (1976), “Stonestreet: Who Killed the Centerfold Model” (1977) and “Ladies in Waiting” (1979). She also appeared in the NBC miniseries “Captains and the Kings” (1976).

In the 1980s, Kirkland worked in the movies “Willow B: Women in Prison” (TV), the Goldie Hawn vehicle “Private Benjamin,” “The Georgia Peaches” (TV), “The Incredible Shrinking Woman,” “Human Highway,” “Double Exposure,” “Love Letters,” “Fatal Games” and “Summer” (TV). She also acted in “Talking Walls,” “White Hot,” “High Stakes,” “Cold Feet,” “Paint It Black” and “Best of the Best” as well as in the TV series “General Hospital” (1982) and “Falcon Crest” (2 episodes, 1983). She then founded the Sally Kirkland Acting Workshop in 1983 and Artists Alliance Productions with Mark and David Buntzman in 1988.

Her big breakthrough came when Kirkland landed the starring role in the Yurek Bogayevicz directed drama “Anna” (1987), opposite Robert Fields and Paulina Porizkova. For her good performance, the actress was nominated for a 1987 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role and won a Golden Globe for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama, an Independent Spirit for Best Lead Female and a Los Angeles Film Critics Association for Best Actress. Meanwhile on stage, she earned praise for her performance in an off-Broadway production of “Woman Beware of Woman” (1985). She then created the role of Suzana in Vaclav Havel's Obie Award winning “Largo Desolato” (1986) for Joe Papp's New York Public Theater, and repeated the performance on a TV production in 1990.

Kirkland next starred opposite Cindy Williams and Elaine Stritch in “Steel Magnolias” (1990), an unsold television pilot based from the 1989 film of the same name. She also appeared in the biographical film “JFK” (1991), which was directed by Oliver Stones and starred Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee, Jones, Laurie Metcalf, Gary Oldman, Michael Rooker, Jay O. Sanders and Sissy Spacek, and received the recurring role of Barbara Healy in the top rated ABC sitcom “Roseanne” (2 episodes, 1992-1993). She was then nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV for her portrayal of Janet Smurl in the Fox TV film “The Haunted” (1991). In 1994, she starred as Helen Lawson in the short lived syndicated soap opera “Valley of the Dolls,” which was adapted from the 1966 hit novel of the same name by Jacqueline Susann. Kirkland next appeared in “Amnesia” (1996), “Excess Baggage” (1997), “Little Ghost” (1997), “Paranoia” (1998), “Wilbur Falls” (1998) and “Starry Night” (1999), among other films. She also starred as Marilyn Monroe, opposite Michael Murphy as John F. Kennedy, in “The Island” (1998), a romantic comedy directed and co-written by Cyrus Nowrasteh, and played Jeanette, the mother of Edward Pekurny (played by Matthew McConaughey) in the Ron Howard comedy “EDtv,” which was screened out of competition at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival. Following guest starring roles in the TV series “Murder, She Wrote” and “The Nanny,” among others, Kirkland joined the cast of the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives” in a limited role of Tracy Simpson (1999). 1999 also saw her portray Professor Annie Sherman in the Keri Russell starring college drama “Felicity” (4 episodes). As a stage actress, Kirkland received critical praise for her starring role in the Alan Aykborn play “Woman in Mind” (1991) with the ACT Company at the Westport Playhouse. She also headlined her own one woman show titled “Nonnie Bruce & the Power She Calls Love” in 1995 and starred in “When I Was a Girl I Used To Scream and Shout” at the Odyssey Theater in Los Angeles in 1999.

Entering the new millennium, Kirkland starred with Lana Clarkson in “Powder Room Suite” (2000) at the Court Theater, made her feature directing debut with the indie comedy “The Boys Behind the Desk” (2000), in which she also starred in, and worked with Gail O'Grady and Lisa Rinna in the made for TV film “Another Woman's Husband” (2000). She then appeared in the films “Thank You, Good Night” (with John Paul Pitoc and Christian Campbell), “Out of the Black” (with Tyler Christopher), “A Month of Sundays” (with Rod Steiger, all 2001), “Mothers and Daughters” (2002), “Wish You Were Dead” (2002, starred Cary Elwes, Elaine Hendrix, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen and Gene Simmons) and “Deranged” (2002, with JoBeth Williams and Kari Wuhrer). She also acted in “Night of the Wolf” and “Another Pretty Face” (both 2002, TV) and the box office hit comedy “Bruce Almighty” (2003), which starred Jim Carrey.

From 2004 to 2006, Kirkland worked in the films “Mango Kiss” (starred Danièle Ferraro and Michelle Wolff), “An Eye for an Eye” (short), “Bloodlines” (starred Rudolf Martin), “Neo Ned” (with Jeremy Renner, Gabrielle Union, Cary Elwes and Ethan Suplee), “Adam & Steve” (starred Craig Chester and Malcolm Gets), “Encore” (short), “What's Up, Scarlet,” and “Chandler Hall.” She then portrayed characters in “Hollywood Dreams,” “A-List,” “The Big Red Cotton Show” (short), “Fingerprints,” “Off the Black” (starred Nick Nolte and Trevor Morgan), “Coffee Date” (written and directed by Stewart Wade) and “Factory Girl.” In 2007, she starred as Penelope Denmore in the short film “Blind Spot” and was handed the Slate Award for Best Actress at the 2007 California Independent Film Festival for her performance. The same year, she also appeared in the thriller “Resurrection Mary,” with Kevin G. Schmidt and Pamela Noble, the action comedy “Big Stan,” and the science fiction movie “Spiritual Warriors,” which was directed by David Raynr and co-written by Jsu Garcia, who also starred in the film. Next up for the actress, she acted in “Bald,” “The Ear of the Beholder” (short), “Richard III” (as Queen Margaret), “Oak Hill” (all 2008), “Redemption” (short), “Who Are You” (short), “Devil's Land” (short) and “Sarah Murphy” (all 2009). She then appeared as Dr. Goode's mother in the “Head Case” episode titled “Parental Guidance Suggested” (2008) and returned to the series for the 2009 episode “Tying the Not.”

Recently, in 2010, Kirkland produced and starred in the short film “When Sally Met Rascal...,” costarred with Jeremy London, Bret Roberts and Heather Marie Marsden in the thriller “House Under Siege” and starred as Mary in David Grotell's “Make a Wish,” which she also produced. She has completed filming “Lights Out” and “Urgency,” and will appear in upcoming films “The Last Gamble” (2010), “One by One: Death's Door” (2010), “The Wayshower” (2011), “Archaeology of a Woman” (2011), “Division III: Football's Finest” (2011) and “The Visitor from Planet Omicron.” On the small screen, Kirkland is set to appear in the series “Paul Cruz: Latin Actor (A Mockuseries)” and the TV movie “The Agency” (both 2010).


  • California Independent Film Festival: Slate Award, Best Actress, “Blind Spot,” 2007

  • LA Femme Film Festival: Lifetime Achievement Award, 2005

  • Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama, “Anna,” 1988

  • Independent Spirit: Best Female Lead, “Anna,” 1988

  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA): Best Actress, “Anna,” 1987

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