Shirley MacLaine

Broadway hoofer, dramatic talent, spiritual eccentric, activist, Oscar winner... Over the course of a varied and distinguished career, actress Shirley MacLaine earned these titles many times over. A former ballerina hopeful-turned-chorus girl, she rose to fame in the early 1950s after Hollywood producers noticed her in Broadway's "Pajama Game." She made the transition to features in a series of roles that emphasized her quirkiness and heartbreaking vulnerability, most notably in "Some Came Running" (1960), "The Apartment" (1960) and "Irma La Douce" (1963). The redheaded pixie dropped out of features in the late 1960s - watching her brother Warren Beatty rise to fame at that time -but reemerged in the late 1970s with several acclaimed performances in such films as "The Turning Point" (1977), "Being There" (1979) and "Terms of Endearment" (1983), the latter of which brought her a long-overdue Oscar for Best Actress. She remained a vital presence in efforts like "Steel Magnolias" (1989), "Postcards from the Edge" (1990) and "Guarding Tess" (1994), while extolling alternative beliefs in reincarnation and extraterrestrials that occasionally earned derision from pundits. Well into her seventies, the actress continued to command attention in acclaimed projects, ranging from the biopic "Coco Chanel" (Lifetime, 2008) to the black comedy "Bernie" (2012). Not that the validation was necessary, but an AFI Life Achievement Award merely punctuated the fact that MacLaine remained among the most gifted of Hollywood and stage performers for over 40 years - a distinction that she continued to earn well into the new millennium.