Ellen Burstyn’s illustrious acting career encompasses film, stage and television. In 1975 she became only the third woman in history to win both the Tony Award and the Academy Award in the same year for her work in Bernard Slade’s Same Time, Next Year on Broadway and in Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, for which she also received a Golden Globe nomination and a British Academy Award for Best Actress. Burstyn has been nominated for an Academy Award 5 other times for The Last Picture Show (1972), The Exorcist (1974), Same Time, Next Year (1979), Resurrection (1981), and Requiem for a Dream (2000). She recently became a “triple crown winner” when she won her first Emmy for a guest appearance in Law & Order: SVU (2009), to add to her Oscar and Tony.
Burstyn’s many theater credits include the Broadway production of 84 Charing Cross Road (1982), the acclaimed one-woman play Shirley Valentine (1989), as well as Shimada (1992), and Sacrilege (1995). She starred off-Broadway with Burgess Meredith in Park Your Car in Harvard Yard (1985). In the mid-90s, she starred in regional productions of Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful and Death of Papa, and Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night at Houston’s Alley Theatre and at HartfordStage in Connecticut. In 2008, she received rave reviews in Stephen Adley Guirgis’ new play, The Little Flower of East Orange (2008), directed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman at The Public Theater in New York. In 2011, she performed in London’s West End in Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour, directed by Ian Rickson and co-starring Keira Knightley and Elisabeth Moss.
Burstyn has worked with some of film’s most visionary directors from Martin Scorsese to Darren Aronofsky. In the last 45 years, she has appeared in such films as Goodbye, Charlie (1964), Pit Stop (1969), Tropic of Cancer (1970), Alex in Wonderland (1970), The Last Picture Show (1971), The King of Marvin Gardens (1972), The Exorcist (1973), Harry and Tonto (1974), Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974), Providence (1977), A Dream of Passion (1978), Same Time, Next Year (1978), Resurrection (1980), Silence of the North (1981), The Ambassador (1984), Twice in a Lifetime (1985), Hanna’s War (1988), Dying Young (1991), Grand Isle (1991), The Cemetery Club (1993), The Color of Evening (1994), When a Man Loves a Woman (1994), Roommates (1995), The Baby-Sitters Club (1995), How to Make an American Quilt (1995), The Spitfire Grill (1996), Deceiver (1997), You Can Thank Me Later (1998), Playing By Heart (1998), Walking Across Egypt (1999), The Yards (2000), Requiem for a Dream (2000), Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002), The Elephant King (2006), The Wicker Man (2006), The Fountain (2006), The Stone Angel (2007) for which she won the Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in Canada, Oliver Stone’s W (2008), The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond (2008), According to Greta (2008), The Mighty Macs (2008), Lovely, Still (2008), Horton Foote’s final screenplay Main Street (2009), Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You (2010), and Sam Levinson’s Another Happy Day (2010).
In television, Burstyn won an Emmy Award for her guest appearance in Law & Order: SVU (2009), and received Emmy nominations for her title role in The People vs. Jean Harris (1981), her starring role in Pack of Lies (1987), a Hallmark Hall of Fame television production, and for HBO’s Big Love (2008). She has appeared in many other television movies including Surviving (1985), Into Thin Air (1985), Something in Common (1986), When You Remember Me (1990), Getting Gotti (1994), My Brother’s Keeper (1995), Timepiece (1996), Within These Walls (2001), The Five People You Meet in Heaven (2004), Our Fathers (2005), and Mitch Albom’s For One More Day (2007). She has starred in 3 television series, The Ellen Burstyn Show (1986), That’s Life (2002-2003), and The Book of Daniel (2006). In her early years known as Ellen McRae, she was cast in numerous television episodes including Surfside 6 (1961), The Dick Powell Show (1961), Ben Casey (1962), Perry Mason (1962), Laramie (1963), Wagon Train (1963), Kraft Suspense Theater (1964), The Doctors (1964-65), The Iron Horse (1967-68), The Virginian (1969), and Gunsmoke (1962-71), and was a regular as a “Glee Girl” on the Jackie Gleason Show.
Burstyn was the first woman elected president of Actors Equity Association (1982-85), and served as the Artistic Director of the famed Actors Studio where she studied with the late Lee Strasberg. She continues to be active there as co-president with Al Pacino and Harvey Keitel.
Academically, Burstyn holds 4 honorary doctorates, one in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts, a Doctor of Humane Letters from Dowling College, a doctorate from The New School for Social Research, and a doctorate from Pace University where she teaches in The Actors Studio M.F.A. program. Burstyn lectures throughout the country on a wide range of topics, and became a national best-selling author with the publication of her memoir, Lessons in Becoming Myself (2006), published by Riverhead Press.