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Sissy Spacek (1949)

Mary Elizabeth Spacek

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  Summary  

Sissy Spacek is an American actress and singer. She came to international prominence for her for role as Carrie White in Brian De Palma's 1976 horror film Carrie for which she earned her first Academy Award nomination. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as country star Loretta Lynn in the 1980 film Coal Miner's Daughter. She has been nominated for an Oscar a total of six times, and is also known for her role as Holly Sargis in Terrence Malick's 1973 film Badlands.

Spacek is mainly a dramatic actress, but also has made comedies. The films that Spacek has starred in have earned more than $700 million worldwide.

  Biography  

 early life
Spacek was born on Christmas Day, 1949, in Quitman, Texas. She is the daughter of Virginia Frances (née Spilman) and Edwin Arnold Spacek, Sr., a county agricultural agent. Spacek's paternal grandparents, Mary Červenka and Arnold A. Špaček , were of Czech and German ancestry. Her mother, of English and Irish descent, was from the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

Spacek was greatly affected by the death of her eighteen-year old brother, Robbie, in 1967. After she graduated high school she moved to New York City, hoping to become a singer. There, she lived with her first cousin, actor Rip Torn, and his wife, actress Geraldine Page, while trying to break into the industry.

 career
 Early work in New York City
For a while, Spacek sang and played guitar in many of the Greenwich Village coffeehouses, eventually landing some paying work singing commercial jingles. In late 1968, under the pseudonym of "Rainbo", Spacek recorded a novelty song titled '"John, You've Gone Too Far This Time"; the song proclaimed her disillusionment and shock over John Lennon, who on the cover of his newest album Two Virgins appeared in full-frontal nudity with his then-girlfriend Yoko Ono, shocking many fans. The single did not appear on the record charts and failed to sell well, so she was dropped by the record company.

 1970s and beginning of acting career
While singing, Spacek also worked for a time as photographic model, and worked as an extra at Andy Warhol's Factory, appearing in a non-credited role in his 1970 film ''Trash. With the help of Rip Torn, she was enrolled in Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio and then the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York. Her first credited role was in the 1972 cult classic Prime Cut, in which she played Poppy, a girl sold into sexual slavery. The role led to television work, which included a guest role in The Waltons, which she played twice in 1973. Spacek received international attention after starring in Terrence Malick's 1973 Badlands, in which she played Holly, the narrator of the film and 15-year old girlfriend of mass-murderer Kit . Spacek has described Badlands as the "most incredible" experience of her career. On the set of Badlands, Spacek met art director Jack Fisk, whom she married.

Spacek's iconic and career-defining role came in 1976 with Brian De Palma's Carrie, in which she played Carietta "Carrie" White, a shy, troubled high school senior with telekinetic powers. Spacek had to work hard to persuade director de Palma to engage her for the role, set as he was on an alternative actress, whose identity, to this day, remains shrouded in mystery. Rubbing Vaseline into her hair, and donning an old sailor dress her mother made for her as a child, Spacek turned up at the audition with the odds against her, but won the part. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her work in the film (Veteran actress Piper Laurie, who played Carrie's religious, maniacal mother Margaret White, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress).

After Carrie, Spacek played the small role of housekeeper Linda Murray in Alan Rudolph's ensemble piece Welcome to LA , and cemented her reputation in independent cinema with her performance as Pinky Rose in Robert Altman's 1977 classic 3 Women. Altman was deeply impressed by her performance, having stated: 'She's remarkable, one of the top actresses I've ever worked with. Her resources are like a deep well.' Brian de Palma added: ' a phantom. She has this mysterious way of slipping into a part, letting it take over her. She's got a wider range than any young actress I know.' Spacek also helped finance then-brother-in-law David Lynch's directorial debut, Eraserhead and is thanked in the credits of the film.

In the 1979 film Heart Beat, Spacek played Carolyn Cassady, who slipped (under the influence of John Heard's Jack Kerouac and Nick Nolte's Neal Cassady) into a combination of drudgery and debauchery.

 1980s and Oscar win
Spacek began the 1980s with an Oscar in 1980 for Coal Miner's Daughter, in which she played country music star Loretta Lynn, who selected her for the role. In the film, both she and Beverly D'Angelo, who played Patsy Cline, performed their own singing. Film critic Roger Ebert has credited the movie's success "to the performance by Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn. With the same sort of magical chemistry she's shown before, when she played the high school kid in Carrie, Spacek at 29 has the ability to appear to be almost any age on screen. Here, she ages from about 14 to somewhere in her 30s, always looks the age, and never seems to be wearing makeup." Spacek also was nominated for a Grammy Award for her singing on the film's soundtrack album. She followed this with her own country album, Hangin' Up My Heart, in 1983; the album spawned one hit single, "Lonely But Only For You", a song written by K. T. Oslin, which reached #15 on the Billboard Country chart.


Also in the 1980s, Spacek starred alongside Jack Lemmon in Constantin Costa-Gavras's 1982 political thriller Missing , appeared with Mel Gibson in the rural drama The River , and with Diane Keaton and Jessica Lange in 1986's Crimes of the Heart. She was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar for all of these roles. Other performances of the decade included star turns in husband Jack Fisk's directorial debut Raggedy Man and alongside Anne Bancroft in the suicide-themed drama Night Mother . Spacek also showed her lighter side by voicing the brain in the Steve Martin comedy The Man with Two Brains .

 1990s - 2000s
The 1990s saw Spacek slowly come back to Hollywood after her self-imposed hiatus. She had a supporting role as Jim Garrison's wife in Oliver Stone's JFK , and made a number of comedies, TV movies and the occasional film. Most notable of her appearances during these years was her turn as the evil Verena Talbo in the 1995 ensemble piece The Grass Harp, which reunited her with both Laurie and Lemmon, as well as a supporting performance, again alongside Nick Nolte, as the waitress Margie Fogg in Paul Schrader's father-son psychodrama Affliction . She also played Rose Straight in David Lynch's The Straight Story .


In 2001, she was again nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, for her work in Todd Field's In the Bedroom. New York Times film critic Stephen Holden said of her work in the film: "Ms. Spacek's performance is as devastating as it is unflashy. With the slight tightening of her neck muscles and a downward twitch of her mouth, she conveys her character's relentlessness, then balances it with enough sweetness to make Ruth seem entirely human. It is one of Ms. Spacek's greatest performances." Her performance as Ruth Fowler, a grieving mother consumed by revenge, won extraordinary praise and garnered the New York and Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress.

Other performances of this decade include unfaithful wife Ruth in Rodrigo García's Nine Lives and a turn as a woman suffering from Alzheimer's in the television movie Pictures of Hollis Woods . In 2008, Spacek had a supporting part in the Christmas comedy Four Christmases and a lead role in the independent drama, Lake City. Spacek appeared on the HBO drama Big Love, for a multi-episode arc, as a powerful Washington, D.C. lobbyist.

In 2006, she narrated the audiobook of the classic 1960 Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird and it sold over 30 million copies. In 2011, she received a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

 personal life
Spacek married production designer and art director Jack Fisk in 1974, after meeting on the set of Badlands. Fisk later directed her in the films Raggedy Man and Violets Are Blue. They have two daughters, Schuyler Fisk and Madison Fisk .

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Sissy Spacek", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.