Meryl Streep Biography
Mary Louise "Meryl" Streep is an American award-winning actress who has worked in theatre, television, and film. She is widely regarded as being one of the most talented and respected movie actors of the modern era. She made her professional stage debut in 1971's The Playboy of Seville, and her screen debut came in 1977's made-for-television movie, The Deadliest Season. Streep made her film debut in Julia (1977), starring opposite Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave.
Both critical and commercial success came quickly with roles in The Deer Hunter, with Robert De Niro and John Cazale, and Kramer vs. Kramer, with Dustin Hoffman, the former giving Streep her first Oscar nomination and the latter her first win. Streep's work has earned her two Academy Awards, a Cannes award, six Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG), four Grammy Award nominations, two Emmy Awards, a BAFTA award, and a Tony Award nomination. She has received 15 Academy Award nominations, more than any other actor or actress in the history of the awards, and is tied with Angela Lansbury and Jack Nicholson for most Golden Globe Award wins, with six each. She has been nominated a record-breaking 23 times for a Golden Globe Award, beating Jack Lemmon, who had 22. She is also one of the few actors to have won all four major screen acting awards (Oscars, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and BAFTA awards).
Streep was born Mary Louise Streep in Summit, New Jersey, the daughter of Mary W. Streep, a commercial artist, and Harry William Streep, Jr., a pharmaceutical executive. Streep's mother was of Swiss, Irish, and English ancestry, and her father's family was of Dutch descent. Streep was raised Presbyterian; the name "Streep" means "straight line" in Dutch. She has two younger brothers, Dana and Harry. Streep was raised in Bernardsville, New Jersey, where she attended and graduated from Bernards High School. She received her B.A. in Drama at Vassar College in 1971 but also enrolled as a transfer student at Dartmouth College for a semester before that school had become coeducational. She subsequently earned an M.F.A. from Yale School of Drama.
She performed in several theater productions in New York after graduating from Yale, including the New York Shakespeare Festival productions of Henry V, The Taming of the Shrew with Raúl Juliá, and Measure for Measure opposite Sam Waterston and John Cazale, who became her fiancé. She starred on Broadway in the Brecht/Weill musical Happy End, and won an Obie for her performance in the all-sung off-Broadway production of Alice at the Palace.
Streep's first feature film was Julia, in which she played a small but pivotal role during a flashback scene. The Deer Hunter (1978) was her second feature film, and it earned Streep her first Academy Award nomination (for Best Supporting Actress). The following year, she won an Academy Award for her role opposite Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs. Kramer (Best Supporting Actress, 1979). In 1982 she won again, for Sophie's Choice (Best Actress), where she starred alongside Peter MacNicol and Kevin Kline.
In 1978, she won her first Emmy Award, for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series for the miniseries Holocaust. A year later, she appeared in her only Woody Allen film, Manhattan. Streep was engaged to John Cazale ("Fredo" in The Godfather), her costar in The Deer Hunter, until his death from bone cancer on March 12, 1978. In September 1978, she married sculptor Don Gummer. They have four children: Henry W. Gummer (1979), Mary Willa Gummer (Mamie Gummer) (1983), Grace Jane Gummer (1986), and Louisa Jacobson Gummer (1991). While Streep still continued her career during motherhood, she chose to raise her family and be there for her children rather than work full time. Henry is an actor, filmmaker and co-founder of the rock band Bravo Silva. Mamie has chosen acting as a career, and made her off-Broadway debut as Lucy in a 2005 production of Mr. Marmalade at the Laura Pels Theatre. Grace made her acting debut at the Wild Project in New York in The Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents, by the Swiss playwright Lukas Bärfuss in November 2008.
In the 1980s, Streep appeared in the acclaimed films The French Lieutenant's Woman; Silkwood, with Kurt Russell and Cher; Out of Africa, with Robert Redford; and Ironweed, with Jack Nicholson (in which Streep makes her singing debut). She received strong reviews and an Academy Award nomination for Silkwood, portraying activist Karen Silkwood. In A Cry in the Dark (titled Evil Angels in Australia), Streep portrayed Lindy Chamberlain, the Australian mother who was accused of being responsible for the death of her infant after claiming that a dingo took her baby. For her performance, she was awarded Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival. From 1984 to 1990, Streep won six People's Choice Awards for Favorite Motion Picture Actress and, in 1990, was named World Favorite.
In the 1990s, Streep took a greater variety of roles, including a strung-out movie actress in a screen adaptation of Carrie Fisher's novel Postcards from the Edge, with Dennis Quaid and Shirley MacLaine, and a farcical role in Death Becomes Her, with Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis. Streep also appeared in the movie version of Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits, Clint Eastwood's screen adaptation of The Bridges of Madison County, The River Wild, She-Devil, Marvin's Room (with Diane Keaton and Leonardo DiCaprio), One True Thing, and Music of the Heart, a role that required her to learn to play the violin.
Streep is adept with foreign accents, some of her best known roles have called for them. In The Bridges of Madison County, she played a woman from Bari, Italy, while in Sophie's Choice she adopted a Polish accent. She was a voice actor for the animated series The Simpsons and King of the Hill. She also voiced the Blue Fairy character in the Steven Spielberg film A.I. Artificial Intelligence
In 2002, she costarred with Nicolas Cage in Spike Jonze's Adaptation. as real-life author Susan Orlean, and with Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore in The Hours. She also appeared with Al Pacino and Emma Thompson in the HBO adaptation of Tony Kushner's six-hour play, Angels in America, in which she had four roles. She received her second Emmy Award for Angels in America, which reunited her with director Mike Nichols (who directed her in Silkwood, Heartburn, and Postcards from the Edge). She also played Aunt Josephine in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events with Jim Carrey.
In addition, she appeared in Jonathan Demme's remake of The Manchurian Candidate, costarring Denzel Washington, in which she played a role first performed by Angela Lansbury. Since 2002, Streep has hosted the annual event Poetry & the Creative Mind, a benefit in support of National Poetry Month and a program of the Academy of American Poets. Streep also co-hosted the annual Nobel Peace Prize Concert with Liam Neeson in Oslo, Norway in 2001.
In 2004, Streep was awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award by the Board of Directors of the American Film Institute, which honors an individual for a lifetime contribution to enriching American culture through motion pictures and television.
Streep's more recent film releases are Prime (2005); the Robert Altman film A Prairie Home Companion, with Lindsay Lohan and Lily Tomlin; and the box office success The Devil Wears Prada, with Anne Hathaway, which earned Streep the 2007 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy and an Academy Award nomination.
In 2008 she appeared as Donna in the film version of the ABBA musical Mamma Mia!, For this role she won the award of Best Female Performance at the National Movie Awards (UK), and received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical. She played Sister Aloysius in the 2008 film adaptation of John Patrick Shanley's Doubt. She received both an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Drama for that film. She also shared the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress with Anne Hathaway for the role, and won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.
Her upcoming film, Julie & Julia, will have her playing the late Julia Child. She will also be starring in a new Nancy Meyers romantic comedy, which will also star Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, will begin production in February, 2009.
In New York City, she appeared in the 1976 Broadway double bill of Tennessee Williams' 27 Wagons Full of Cotton and Arthur Miller's A Memory of Two Mondays. For the former, she received a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play. Her other early Broadway credits include Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard and the Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill musical, Happy End, in which she originally appeared off-Broadway at the Chelsea Theater Center. She received Drama Desk Award nominations for both productions. Once Streep's film career flourished, she took a long break from stage acting.
In July 2001, Streep returned to the stage for the first time in more than twenty years, playing Arkadina in the Public Theater's revival of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull. The staging, directed by Mike Nichols, also featured Kevin Kline, Natalie Portman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Marcia Gay Harden, and John Goodman.
In August and September 2006, she starred onstage at The Public Theater's production of Mother Courage and Her Children at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. The Public Theater production was a new translation by playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America), with songs in the Weill/Brecht style written by composer Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change); veteran director George C. Wolfe was at the helm. Streep starred alongside Kevin Kline and Austin Pendleton in this three-and-a-half-hour play, in which she sang several songs and was in nearly every scene.
After appearing in Mamma Mia!, Streep's rendition of the song "Mamma Mia" rose to popularity in the Portuguese music charts, where it has so far peaked at #8, adding to Streep's many achievements in the entertainment industry.
At the 35th People's Choice Awards, her version of "Mamma Mia" won an award for "Favorite Song From A Soundtrack", beating the Alicia Keys and Jack White collaboration for James Bond and Fergie's "Labels or Love" from the soundtrack of Sex and the City.