Oscar Actors: Beatty, Warren–Background, Career, Awards, Filmography (Cum Advantage, Tony Nom, Golden Globe, 15 Oscar Noms)

Research in Progress (October 6, 2020)

Warren Beatty Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance: Not direct; mother, dance teacher; sister Shirley MacLaine actress

Social Class: Upper-middle; both parents teachers; grandparents also teachers


Nationality: US

Education: stagehand at National Theatre, Washington, D.C. the summer

Training: dropped out of college, moved to NYC Stella Adler Studio of Acting.

TV before Film:  shows, Studio One, 1957, Kraft Television Theatre, 1957, aged 24; and Playhouse 90, 1959.

Theater: “A Loss of Roses” Broadway, 1960 Tony nomination (featured actor); aged 23

Inspiration: Philadelphia Story, 1940 (he saw in the 1950s); Love Affair (1939), which he remade in 1994.

Breakthrough: Splendor in Grass, 1961; Bonnie and Clyde, 1967. aged 30, producer and star

First Film: as actor, Splendor in the Grass. 1961; age 24; as director, Heaven Can Wait, 1978; age 41

First Oscar Nomination: Heaven Can Wait (co-directed), 1978; aged 41

Oscar Award: Reds, 1981; aged 44

Other Nominations: 15 in total (like Orson Welles in 4 categories)

Genre (specialties):


Last Film: Rules Don’t Apply, 2016; aged 79 (acted and directed)


Career Output: As actor, about 23

Career Span: 1961-20017

Marriage: actress; Annette Bening

Politics: Democrat

Retirement: aged 80

Death: NA


Henry Warren Beatty (born March 30, 1937) is an American actor and filmmaker whose career spans over six decades.

He has been nominated for 15 Oscar Awards, including four for Best Actor, four for Best Picture, two for Best Director, three for Original Screenplay, and one for Adapted Screenplay, winning Best Director for Reds (1981).

Beatty is one of only two people (Orson Welles is the other) to have been nominated for acting in, directing, writing, and producing the same film, and he did so twice: first for Heaven Can Wait (with Buck Henry as co-director), and again with Reds.

Eight of the films he has produced have earned 53 Academy nominations.

In 1999, he was awarded the Academy’s highest honor, the Irving G. Thalberg Award.

Beatty has been nominated for 18 Golden Globe Awards, winning six, including the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, which he was honored with in 2007.

Among his Golden Globe-nominated films are Splendor in the Grass (1961), his screen debut, and Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Shampoo (1975), Heaven Can Wait (1978), Reds (1981), Dick Tracy (1990), Bugsy (1991), Bulworth (1998) and Rules Don’t Apply (2016), all of which he also produced.

Director and collaborator Arthur Penn described Beatty as “the perfect producer”, adding, “He makes everyone demand the best of themselves. Warren stays with a picture through editing, mixing and scoring. He plain works harder than anyone else I have ever seen.”

Henry Warren Beaty was born March 30, 1937, in Richmond, Virginia. His mother, Kathlyn Corinne (née MacLean), was a teacher from Nova Scotia. His father, Ira Owens Beaty, had studied for a PhD in educational psychology and worked as a teacher and school administrator, in addition to dealing in real estate.

Beatty’s grandparents were also teachers. The family was Baptist. While Warren Beaty was still a child, Ira Beaty moved his family from Richmond to Norfolk and then to Arlington and Waverly, then back to Arlington, eventually taking a position at Arlington’s Thomas Jefferson Junior High School in 1945.

During the 1950s, the family resided in the Dominion Hills section of Arlington. Beatty’s older sister is the actress, dancer and writer Shirley MacLaine. His uncle, by marriage, was Canadian politician A. A. MacLeod.

Beatty became interested in movies before his teens, when he often accompanied his sister to theaters. One film that had an important early influence on him was The Philadelphia Story (1940), which he saw when it was re-released in the 1950s. He noticed a strong resemblance between its star, Katharine Hepburn, and his mother, in both appearance and personality, saying that they symbolized “perpetual integrity.”

Another film that affected him was Love Affair (1939), which starred one of his favorite actors, Charles Boyer. He found it “deeply moving,” and recalls that “This is a movie I always wanted to make.” He did remake Love Affair in 1994, in which he starred alongside Annette Bening and Katharine Hepburn.

Among his favorite TV shows in the 1950s was the “Texaco Star Theatre,” and he began to mimic one of its regular host comedians, Milton Berle. Beatty learned to do a “superb imitation of Berle and his routine,” said a friend, and he often used Berle-type humor at home.

His sister Shirley MacLaine’s lasting memories of her brother include seeing him reading books by Eugene O’Neill or singing along to Al Jolson records. In “Rules Don’t Apply” (2016), Beatty plays Howard Hughes, who is shown talking about and singing Jolson songs while flying his plane.

MacLaine noted—on what made her brother want to become a filmmaker, sometimes writing, producing, directing and starring in his films: “That’s why he’s more comfortable behind the camera … He’s in the total-control aspect. He has to have control over everything.” Beatty doesn’t deny that need; in speaking about his earliest parts, he said “When I acted in films I used to come with suggestions about the script, the lighting, the wardrobe, and people used to say ‘Waddya want, to produce the picture as well?’ And I used to say that I supposed I did.”

Beatty was a star football player at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington. Encouraged to act by the success of his sister, who had recently established herself as a Hollywood star, he decided to work as a stagehand at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. during the summer before his senior year.

After graduation, he was reportedly offered ten college football scholarships, but turned them all down to study liberal arts at Northwestern University (1954–55), where he joined the Sigma Chi fraternity. After his first year, he left college to move to New York City, where he studied acting under Stella Adler at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting.

Beatty enlisted in the California Air National Guard on February 11, 1960 under his original name Henry W. Beaty. On January 1, 1961, he was given a dishonorable discharge from the Air National Guard and the US Air Force Reserve. This made him ineligible for the draft and any military service.

Beatty started his career making appearances on TV shows such as Studio One (1957), Kraft Television Theatre (1957), and Playhouse 90 (1959).

He was a semi-regular on “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.” during its first season (1959–60). His performance in William Inge’s “A Loss of Roses” on Broadway garnered him a 1960 Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play and a 1960 Theatre World Award. It was his sole appearance on Broadway.

He made his film debut in Elia Kazan’s “Splendor in the Grass” (1961), opposite Natalie Wood. The film was a critical and box office success and Beatty was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, and received the award for New Star of the Year – Actor. The film was also nominated for two Oscars, winning one.

Biskind: Kazan “was the first in a string of major directors Beatty sought out, mentors or father figures from whom he wanted to learn.” Beatty, years later during a Kennedy Center tribute to Kazan, told the audience that Kazan “had given him the most important break in his career.” Biskind adds that they “were wildly dissimilar—mentor vs. protege, director vs. actor, immigrant outsider vs. native son. Kazan had confidence born of age and success, while Beatty was virtually aflame with the arrogance of youth.”

Kazan recalls his impressions of Beatty: “Warren—it was obvious the first time I saw him—wanted it all and wanted it his way. Why not? He had the energy, a very keen intelligence, and more chutzpah than any Jew I’ve ever known. Even more than me. Bright as they come, intrepid, and with that thing all women secretly respect: complete confidence in his sexual powers, confidence so great that he never had to advertise himself, even by hints.

Beatty’s career has had all the hallmarks of the conventional Hollywood golden boy. Ingratiating good looks, disarming youthfulness, a delight in the social life and no apparently strong feelings about his craft. This image has now been strikingly shattered with his emergence as a vividly individual actor and as a highly imaginative producer in the gangster ballad, Bonnie and Clyde … At 28 [sic], the image of Warren Beatty, fun-loving playboy, is dead. Warren Beatty, a man of the cinema, is born.
—Gerald Garrett, syndicated movie columnist

He followed his initial film with Tennessee Williams’ The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961), with Vivien Leigh and Lotte Lenya, directed by Jose Quintero; All Fall Down (1962), with Angela Lansbury, Karl Malden and Eva Marie Saint, directed by John Frankenheimer; Lilith (1963), with Jean Seberg and Peter Fonda, directed by Robert Rossen; Promise Her Anything (1964), with Leslie Caron, Bob Cummings and Keenan Wynn, directed by Arthur Hiller; Mickey One (1965), with Alexandra Stewart and Hurd Hatfield, directed by Arthur Penn; and Kaleidoscope (1966), with Susannah York and Clive Revill, directed by Jack Smight.

In 1965, he formed a production company, Tatira, which he named it for Kathlyn (whose nickname was “Tat”) and Ira.

At age 29, Beatty produced and acted in Bonnie and Clyde, which would be released in 1967. He assembled a team that included the writers Robert Benton and David Newman, and the director, Arthur Penn. Beatty selected most of the cast, including Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Gene Wilder and Michael J. Pollard. Beatty also oversaw the script and spearheaded the delivery of the film.

Gene Hackman was chosen because Beatty had acted with him in Lilith in 1964 and felt he was a “great” actor. Upon completion of the film, he credited Hackman with giving the “most authentic performance in the movie, so textured and so moving,” recalls Dunaway.

He was impressed with Gene Wilder after seeing him in a play and didn’t even need him to audition, in what became Wilder’s screen debut. And Beatty had already known Pollard: “Michael J. Pollard was one of my oldest friends,” Beatty said. “I’d known him forever; I met him the day I got my first television show. We did a play together on Broadway.”

Bonnie and Clyde was a critical and commercial success, despite the early misgivings by studio head Jack Warner, who put up the production money. Before filming began, Warner had asked an associate, “What does Warren Beatty think he’s doing? How did he ever get us into this thing? This gangster stuff went out with Cagney.” The film was nominated for 10 Oscar Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor, and seven Golden Globe Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor.

After Bonnie and Clyde, Beatty acted with Elizabeth Taylor in The Only Game in Town (1970), directed by George Stevens; McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), directed by Robert Altman; and Dollars (1971), directed by Richard Brooks.

In 1972, Beatty produced a series of benefit concerts to help with publicity and fundraising in the George McGovern 1972 presidential campaign. Beatty first put together Four for McGovern at The Forum in the Los Angeles area, convincing Barbra Streisand, Carole King and James Taylor to perform. Streisand brought Quincy Jones and his Orchestra, and recorded the album Live Concert at the Forum. Two weeks later, Beatty mounted another concert at the Cleveland Arena, in which Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon joined James Taylor. In June, Beatty produced Together for McGovern at Madison Square Garden, reuniting Simon and Garfunkel, Nichols and May, and Peter, Paul and Mary, and featuring Dionne Warwicke. With these productions, campaign manager Gary Hart said that Beatty had “invented the political concert“. He had mobilized Hollywood celebrities for a political cause on a scale previously unseen, creating a new power dynamic.

Beatty appeared in the films The Parallax View (1974), directed by Alan Pakula; and The Fortune (1975), directed by Mike Nichols.

Taking greater control, Beatty produced, co-wrote and acted in Shampoo (1975), directed by Hal Ashby, which was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay, as well as five Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture and Best Actor.

In 1978, Beatty directed, produced, wrote and acted in Heaven Can Wait (1978) (sharing co-directing credit with Buck Henry). The film was nominated for 9 Oscar Awards, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Adapted Screenplay. It also won three Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture and Best Actor.

A film of this scope and size demands incredible work from the director, and when you consider that Beatty also served as producer, writer and star, it’s hard to believe so much work could come from one man. As a film, it’s a marvelous view of America in the 1912-19 era, and Beatty brought some superior performances from a large cast—Joe Pollack, syndicated columnist

Beatty’s next film was Reds (1981), a historical epic about American Communist journalist John Reed who observed the Russian October Revolution – a project Beatty had begun researching and filming for as far back as 1970. It was a critical and commercial success, despite being an American film about an American Communist made and released at the height of the Cold War. It received 12 Academy Award nominations – including four for Beatty (for Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Original Screenplay), winning three; Beatty won for Best Director, Maureen Stapleton won for Best Supporting Actress (playing anarchist Emma Goldman), and Vittorio Storaro won for Best Cinematography.[29] The film received seven Golden Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture, Director, Actor and Screenplay. Beatty won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director.

Following Reds, Beatty did not appear in a film for five years until 1987’s Ishtar, written and directed by Elaine May.[30] Following severe criticism in press reviews by the new British studio chief David Puttnam just prior to its release, the film received mixed reviews and was unimpressive commercially.[31] Puttnam attacked several other over-budget U.S. films greenlighted by his predecessor and was fired shortly thereafter.[32]

Under his second production company, Mulholland Productions,[33] Beatty next produced, directed and played the title role of comic strip-based detective Dick Tracy in the 1990 film of the same name. The film received positive reviews and was one of the highest-grossing films of the year. It received 7 Academy Award nominations, winning three for Best Art Direction, Best Makeup, and Best Original Song.[35] It also received four Golden Globe Award nominations, including Best Motion Picture.[36]

In 1991, he produced and starred as the real-life gangster Bugsy Siegel in the critically and commercially acclaimed Bugsy, directed by Barry Levinson, which was nominated for ten Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor; it later won two Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. The film also received eight Golden Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture and Best Actor, winning for Best Motion Picture.

Beatty’s next film, Love Affair (1994), directed by Glenn Gordon Caron, received mixed reviews and was unimpressive commercially.

In 1998, he wrote, produced, directed and starred in the political satire Bulworth, which was critically acclaimed and was nominated for Best Original Screenplay Oscar. The film also received three Golden Globe Award nominations, for Best Motion Picture, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay.

Beatty has appeared briefly in numerous documentaries, including Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991) and One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern (2005).

After the poor box office performance of Town & Country (2001), in which Beatty starred, he did not appear in or direct another film for 15 years.

In 2010, Beatty directed and reprised his role as Dick Tracy in a 30-minute comedy film titled Dick Tracy Special, which premiered on TCM. The short metafiction film stars Dick Tracy and film critic and historian Leonard Maltin, the latter of whom discusses the history and creation of Tracy. Tracy talks about how he admired Ralph Byrd and Morgan Conway who portrayed him in several films, but says he didn’t care much for Beatty’s portrayal of him or his film. At CinemaCon In April 2016, Beatty said he intends to make a Dick Tracy sequel.

Rules Don’t Apply (2016), is a fictionalized romantic comedy about Howard Hughes, set in 1958 Hollywood and Las Vegas. It stars Beatty, who wrote, co-produced and directed the film. It co-stars Alden Ehrenreich and Lily Collins, with supporting actors including Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, Matthew Broderick, Candice Bergen, Ed Harris and Martin Sheen. Beatty’s film is 40 years in the making.[47] In the mid-1970s, Beatty signed a contract with Warner to star in, produce, write, and possibly direct a film about Howard Hughes. The project was put on hold when Beatty began Heaven Can Wait. Initially, Beatty planned to film the life story of John Reed and Hughes back-to-back, but he eventually focused primarily on the Reed film Reds.

It was released on November 23, 2016, and was Beatty’s first film in 15 years. The film was critical and commercial disappointment.

In 2017, Beatty reunited with his Bonnie and Clyde co-star Faye Dunaway at the 89th Academy Awards, in celebration of the film’s 50th anniversary. They had been given the wrong envelope, leading Dunaway to incorrectly announce La La Land as Best Picture, instead of Moonlight. This became a social media sensation, trending all over the world. In 2018, Beatty and Dunaway returned to present Best Picture at the 90th Academy Awards, earning standing ovation, making jokes about the previous year’s flub. Without incident, Beatty announced The Shape of Water as the winner.

In 1959, Beatty began dating actress Joan Collins, and they were engaged in early 1960s, but his infidelity led to their split. Collins revealed in her 1978 autobiography that she became pregnant by Beatty but had an abortion.

Beatty has been married to actress Annette Bening since 1992. They have 4 children: two daughters and two sons.

Prior to marrying Bening, Beatty was known for his womanizing and high-profile romantic relationships that received generous media. Singer-songwriter Carly Simon also dated Beatty, and confirmed in November 2015 that she wrote a verse in her hit song “You’re So Vain” about him.

Beatty is a longtime supporter of the Democratic Party. In 1972, Beatty was part of the “inner circle” of Senator George McGovern’s presidential campaign. He traveled extensively and was instrumental in organizing fundraising.

Despite differences in politics, Beatty was also a friend of Republican Senator John McCain. He was one of the pallbearers chosen by McCain at the senator’s funeral in 2018.


1961 Splendor in the Grass Bud Stamper Elia Kazan No No Yes
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone Paolo di Leo José Quintero No No Yes

1962 All Fall Down Berry-Berry Willart John Frankenheimer No No Yes

1964 Lilith Vincent Bruce Robert Rossen No No Yes

1965 Mickey One Mickey One Arthur Penn No No Yes
Promise Her Anything Harley Rummell Arthur Hiller No No Yes

1966 Kaleidoscope Barney Lincoln Jack Smight No No Yes

1967 Bonnie and Clyde Clyde Barrow Arthur Penn No Yes Yes

1970 The Only Game in Town Joe Grady George Stevens No No Yes

1971 McCabe & Mrs. Miller John McCabe Robert Altman No No Yes
Dollars Joe Collins Richard Brooks No No Yes

1974 The Parallax View Joseph Frady Alan J. Pakula No No Yes

1975 Shampoo George Roundy Hal Ashby Yes Yes Yes
The Fortune Nicky Wilson Mike Nichols No No Yes

1978 Heaven Can Wait Joe Pendleton Warren Beatty & Buck Henry Yes Yes Yes

1981 Reds John Reed Warren Beatty Yes Yes Yes

1987 Ishtar Lyle Rogers Elaine May No Yes Yes

1990 Dick Tracy Dick Tracy Warren Beatty No Yes Yes

1991 Bugsy Bugsy Siegel Barry Levinson No Yes Yes

1994 Love Affair Mike Gambril Glenn Gordon Caron Yes Yes Yes

1998 Bulworth Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth Warren Beatty Yes Yes Yes

2001 Town & Country Porter Stoddard Peter Chelsom No No Yes

2016 Rules Don’t Apply Howard Hughes Warren Beatty Yes Yes Yes