Kathleen Turner (born Mary Kathleen Turner) is an American actress who rose to notoriety in the 1980s as a result of her perfect mix of beauty, intelligence, grace, and talents. She was an enthusiastic participant in the theatre before starting on a successful career in Hollywood, receiving Tony Award nominations for her Broadway roles in ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ and ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ For the young woman from a conservative family, a career in acting appeared an odd possibility. Her parents, particularly her father, were adamant that his daughter not pursue a career in this sector. The courageous lady, however, was unafraid to follow her heart despite the pressure from her family. She majored in drama at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and appeared in several Steve Yeager theatrical shows. She then moved on to television before making her film debut in ‘Body Heat,’ in which she plays a crafty lady who plots to assassinate her husband. Her raw sexuality and daring spirit made her an instant hit with business insiders. She is known for playing unorthodox parts in films such as “Serial Mom,” “Peggy Sue Got Married,” and “Prizzi’s Honor.” Unfortunately, later in her career, she was hampered by health issues.
Childhood and Adolescence
Allen Richard Turner and his wife Patsy gave birth to her. Her father was a member of the United States Foreign Service. Because of her father’s job, the family moved all over the world. She grew up in a Christian family that was conservative.
Her interest in the performing arts began at a young age, despite her parents’ opposition. She moved back to the United States after graduating from the American School in London in 1972.
She studied drama at the University of Maryland Baltimore County after two years at Missouri State University (UMBC). In 1977, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. During her college years, she was a regular performer in Steve Yeager’s theater performances.
Career of Kathleen Turner
She relocated to New York in 1977 and had her off-Broadway debut as the female lead in Michael Zetter’s play “Mister T” at the Soho Repertory Theatre. After a few months, she made her Broadway debut as Judith Hastings in ‘Gemini’ at The Little Theatre.
Her film debut occurred in 1981, when she was cast as Matty Walker, the femme fatale in the thriller ‘Body Heat.’ Everyone adored her as a shrewd and gorgeous woman who plots her husband’s murder.
She took the purposeful decision to do a range of characters in order to avoid being labeled as a sexy seductress after her debut. In the science fiction comedy ‘The Man with Two Brains,’ she played a gold-digging wife.
In the 1984 romantic comedy ‘Romancing the Stone,’ directed by Robert Zemeckis, she chose to play a humorous part. Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito also starred in the film. Turner was pushed to stardom as a result of the song’s commercial success.
In the comic drama ‘Peggy Sue Got Married,’ she played a middle-aged married woman who is transported back to her high school days. For this role, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.
In 1989, she starred alongside Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito in the grim comedy ‘The War of the Roses.’ The film follows an affluent couple who appear to have the perfect marriage but are on the edge of divorce due to various difficulties.
Throughout the 1980s, she was a highly sought-after actress. Unfortunately, she developed rheumatoid arthritis in the 1990s, which severely limited her employment options. During this period, she also began to drink heavily, further jeopardizing her professional prospects.
She earned considerable success in 1994 with the character of Beverly Sutphin in the black comedy ‘Serial Mom,’ in which she played an apparently perfect housewife who turns a serial killer and becomes a celebrity as a result of her infamy.
She starred in supporting roles in films such as ‘A Simple Wish’ (1997), ‘The Real Blond’ (1997), and ‘The Virgin Suicides’ (1998) due to a lack of major roles in the late 1990s (1999). She also had a cameo appearance on an episode of ‘The Simpsons.’
During the 2000s, both her health and her career improved. In 2002, she starred in a Broadway version of ‘The Graduate.’ For as long as Turner was in the cast, the play was performed before sold-out audiences.
She made her Broadway debut in a revival of ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ in 2005. In the play, she played Martha, a role for which she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play.
She has recently acted in minor roles in films such as “Marley & Me” (2008) and “The Perfect Family” (2011).
Major Projects of Kathleen Turner
She rose to fame after portraying Joan Wilder in the romantic comedy ‘Romancing the Stone.’ Smugglers kidnap her sister, and she plays a lonely romance novelist. This was her first foray into the world of comedy.
She was nominated for an Academy Award and won several other prizes for her portrayal of a middle-aged lady who is transported back to her high school days in the comedy drama ‘Peggy Sue Got Married.’
Achievements & Awards
For her work as Joan Wilder in ‘Romancing the Stone,’ she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress-Motion Picture Comedy (1984). For this role, she also earned the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress.
For her performance in ‘Prizzi’s Honor,’ she received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Sant Jordi Award for Best Foreign Actress (1985).
Personal History and Legacy
She was formerly married to real estate mogul Jay Weiss, whom she married in 1984. She is the mother of one daughter. Turner and Weiss divorced in 2007.
She has been working with Planned Parenthood of America since she was a teenager, eventually rising to the position of chairman. She also gives her time to organizations such as Amnesty International and Citymeals-on-Wheels.