- Jun 22, 1949
- Summit, New Jersey
Sydney Pollack -- one of Meryl Streep's collaborators time and again -- once proclaimed her the most gifted film actress of the late 20th century. Most insiders would concur with this assessment. To avid moviegoers, she represents the essence of onscreen dramatic art. Like Hoffman (and De Niro), she demonstrates a transcendent ability to plunge into her… More Bio:
Sydney Pollack -- one of Meryl Streep's collaborators time and again -- once proclaimed her the most gifted film actress of the late 20th century. Most insiders would concur with this assessment. To avid moviegoers, she represents the essence of onscreen dramatic art. Like Hoffman (and De Niro), she demonstrates a transcendent ability to plunge into her characters and lose herself inside of them, transforming herself physically to meet the demands of her roles. A luminous blonde with nearly translucent pale skin, intelligent blue eyes, and an elegant facial bone structure, Streep sustains a fragile, fleeting beauty that allows her to travel the spectrum between earthily plain (Ironweed), and ethereally glamorous and radiant (Manhattan, Heartburn).
Born June 22, 1949, in Summit, NJ, Streep took operatic voice lessons, and subsequently cultivated a fascination with acting while she attended Bernards High School. Upon graduation, Streep studied drama at Vassar, Dartmouth, and Yale, where she appeared in 30 to 40 productions with the Yale Repertory Theater. With a five-star education and years of collegiate stage work under her belt, Streep headed for the New York footlights and launched her off-Broadway career. Streep's performance in Tennessee Williams' 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, for which she received a Tony nomination, constitutes a particularly strong theatrical highlight from this period. She made her television debut in Robert Markowitz's The Deadliest Season (1977). That year she also appeared onscreen for the first time in Fred Zinnmann's Julia (1977) as Anna Marie, opposite heavyweights Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, and Hal Holbrook. The following year, Streep picked up an Emmy for her performance in Marvin J. Chomsky's miniseries Holocaust. She first teamed with De Niro in Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter (1978).
Around this time, Streep became involved with the diminutive performer John Cazale, whom she met on the set of the Cimino film. Tragically, this marriage was ill-fated from day one, Cazale's frail body ridden with bone cancer. Forty-two at the time, he passed away in March 1978, nine months prior to the premiere of The Deer Hunter. Streep later wed Don Gummer, who was not associated with Hollywood in any capacity.
Streep next appeared as Woody Allen's ruthless lesbian ex-wife in his elegiac comedy drama Manhattan (1979) and Alan Alda's Southern mistress in the scathing political satire The Seduction of Joe Tynan. Her shattering interpretation of the scarred and torn Joanna Kramer opposite Dustin Hoffman in Robert Benton's heartbreaking divorce saga Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1980 -- which she famously left on top of a toilet at the festivities -- alongside a plethora of L.A. Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Circle, and Golden Globe Awards for the Allen, Benton, and Alda films.
Streep continued her ascent over the next decade by establishing herself as Hollywood's top box-office draw and a critical darling. Her double performance in the innovative Karel Reisz/Harold Pinter triumph The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), her gut-wrenching interpretation of the titular Holocaust survivor in Alan J. Pakula's haunting adaptation Sophie's Choice (1982), and her thoughtful evocation of Karen Silkwood in Mike Nichols' drama Silkwood were highlights of the period. In the latter, she portrays a real-life victimized nuclear-plant worker who mysteriously disappears just prior to turning in crucial evidence against her employers.
Streep's decision to headline Sydney Pollack's lush epic Out of Africa (1985), as Karen Blixen, sustained her reputation. She would go on over the next decade to appear in projects like but Ironweed, Heartburn, She-Devil, Postcards from the Edge, and Death Becomes Her. In 1994, she again surprised her fans when she appeared as a muscular expert whitewater rafter who must figh
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