Oscar Actors: Rowlands, Gena–Background, Career, Awards (Cumulative Advantage)

Gena Rowlands Career Summary:

Occup. Inheritance: Yes; mother, actress

Social Class: Upper middle; father

Education: University of Minneapolis

Training: American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA)

Theater: Provincetown Playhouse

Broadway: Seven Year Itch

TV: Many series

First Film: The High Cost of Loving, 1958; age 28

Oscar Nominations: 2. Woman Under Influence, 1974; aged 44; second nominaton, aged 50

Oscar Award: Honorary, 2016; age 86

Other Awards: Berlin Film Fest, 1977; age 47

Other Awards: 4 Emmys

Collaborations: 10 films with husband-director John Cassavetes

Last Film:

Career Output

Career Span: six decades (all media)

Marriage: Actor Cassavetes until his death (1959); 3 children actors/directors

Politics:

 

Rowlands’ career in film, stage, and television has spanned over six decades. A four-time Emmy and two-time Golden Globe winner, she is known for her collaborations with her late actor-director husband John Cassavetes in ten films, including A Woman Under the Influence (1974) and Gloria (1980), which earned her nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Virginia Cathryn “Gena” Rowlands (born June 19, 1930) enjoys a career in film, stage, and television spanning over six decades.

A four-time Emmy and two-time Golden Globe winner, she is known for her collaborations with her late actor-director husband John Cassavetes in 10 films, including A Woman Under the Influence (1974) and Gloria (1980), which earned her Oscar nominations for Best Actress. She also won the Silver Bear for Best Actress for Opening Night (1977).

She is also known for her performances in Woody Allen’s Another Woman (1988), and her son, Nick Cassavetes’ film, The Notebook (2004).

In November 2015, Rowlands received an Honorary Oscar in recognition of her unique screen performances.

Rowlands was born on June 19, 1930, in Madison, Wisconsin, to a mother, Mary Allen (Neal), who was a housewife later working as actress under the stage name Lady Rowlands who was of Irish descent. Her father, Edwin Myrwyn Rowlands, was a banker and state legislator. He was a member of the Wisconsin Progressive Party, and was of Welsh descent. She had a brother, David Rowlands.

Her family moved to Washington, D.C., in 1939, when Edwin was appointed to a position in the U.S. Department of Agriculture; moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1942, when he was appointed branch manager of the Office of Price Administration;  and later moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

From 1947–50, she attended the University of Wisconsin, where she was a popular student renowned for her beauty. While in college, she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. She left for New York City to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

In the early 1950s, Rowlands performed with repertory theatre companies and at the Provincetown Playhouse.

She made her Broadway debut in “The Seven Year Itch” and toured in a national production of the play. In 1956, she starred in the Broadway play “Middle of the Night,” opposite Edward G. Robinson.

Rowlands costarred with Paul Stewart in the 26-episode syndicated TV series Top Secret (1954–55). She guest-starred on such anthology TV series as Robert Montgomery Presents, Armstrong Circle Theatre, Studio One, Appointment with Adventure, The United States Steel Hour and Goodyear Television Playhouse, all in 1955.

In 1959, Rowlands appeared in the western series Laramie, alongside her husband John Cassavetes in the detective series Johnny Staccato, and in the western series Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin.

In 1961, she appeared in the adventure series The Islanders, set in the South Pacific, and in Target: The Corruptors!, starring Stephen McNally. She guest-starred in The Lloyd Bridges Show, the detective series 77 Sunset Strip, the westerns Bonanza and The Virginian, and Breaking Point, all in 1963. In 1964, she guest-starred in the medical drama Dr. Kildare and in two episodes of Burke’s Law. She appeared in four episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, three of which were after the series had been renamed The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. In 1967, she was cast as socialite Adrienne Van Leyden in the prime-time ABC soap opera “Peyton Place.”

Rowlands made her film debut in “The High Cost of Loving,” in 1958; age 28.

In 1962, she starred in director David Miller’s “Lonely Are the Brave,” with Kirk Douglas and Walter Matthau. She played the former lover of the Kirk Douglas character, now the wife of the Douglas character’s best friend.

Virginia Cathryn “Gena” Rowlands (born June 19, 1930) is a retired American actress, whose career in film, stage, and television has spanned over six decades. A four-time Emmy and two-time Golden Globe winner, she is known for her collaborations with her late actor-director husband John Cassavetes in ten films, including A Woman Under the Influence (1974) and Gloria (1980), which earned her nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She also won the Silver Bear for Best Actress for Opening Night (1977). She is also known for her performances in Woody Allen’s Another Woman (1988), and her son, Nick Cassavetes’ film, The Notebook (2004). In November 2015, Rowlands received an Honorary Academy Award in recognition of her unique screen performances.[1]

Rowlands was born on June 19, 1930, in Cambria, Wisconsin.[2] Her mother, Mary Allen (Neal), was a housewife who later worked as an actress under the stage name Lady Rowlands.[3][4] Her father, Edwin Myrwyn Rowlands, was a banker and state legislator.[5] He was a member of the Wisconsin Progressive Party, and was of Welsh descent.[6] She had a brother, David Rowlands.

Her family moved to Washington, D.C., in 1939, when Edwin was appointed to a position in the United States Department of Agriculture; moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1942, when he was appointed as branch manager of the Office of Price Administration;[7] and later moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. From 1947–50, she attended the University of Wisconsin,[8] where she was a popular student already renowned for her beauty.[9] While in college, she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma.[10] She left for New York City to study drama at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

In the early 1950s, Rowlands performed with repertory theatre companies and at the Provincetown Playhouse. She made her Broadway debut in The Seven Year Itch and toured in a national production of the play. In 1956, she starred in the Broadway play Middle of the Night opposite Edward G. Robinson.

Rowlands costarred with Paul Stewart in the 26-episode syndicated TV series Top Secret (1954–55).[11] She guest-starred on such anthology television series as Robert Montgomery Presents, Armstrong Circle Theatre, Studio One, Appointment with Adventure, The United States Steel Hour and Goodyear Television Playhouse, all in 1955. In 1959, Rowlands appeared in the western series Laramie, alongside her husband John Cassavetes in the detective series Johnny Staccato, and in the western series Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin. In 1961, she appeared in the adventure series The Islanders, set in the South Pacific, and in Target: The Corruptors!, starring Stephen McNally. She guest-starred in The Lloyd Bridges Show, the detective series 77 Sunset Strip, the westerns Bonanza and The Virginian, and Breaking Point, all in 1963. In 1964, she guest-starred in the medical drama Dr. Kildare and in two episodes of Burke’s Law. She appeared in four episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, three of which were after the series had been renamed The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. In 1967, she was cast as socialite Adrienne Van Leyden in the prime-time ABC soap opera Peyton Place.

Rowlands made her film debut in The High Cost of Loving in 1958. In 1962, she starred in director David Miller’s Lonely Are the Brave, with Kirk Douglas and Walter Matthau. She played the former lover of the Kirk Douglas character, now the wife of the Douglas character’s best friend.

Rowlands and Cassavetes made ten films together: A Child Is Waiting (1963), Faces (1968), Machine Gun McCain (1969), Minnie and Moskowitz (1971), A Woman Under the Influence (1974; nomination for Academy Award for Best Actress), Two-Minute Warning (1976), Opening Night (1977), Gloria (1980; nomination for Academy Award for Best Actress), Tempest (1982), and Love Streams (1984).[12]

According to scholar Ray Carney, Rowlands sought to suppress an early version of Cassavetes’ first film, Shadows, that Carney says he rediscovered after decades of searching.[13] Rowlands also became involved in the screenings of Husbands and Love Streams, according to Carney. The UCLA Film and Television Archive mounted a restoration of Husbands, as it was pruned down (without Cassavetes’ consent, and in violation of his contract) by Columbia Pictures several months after its release, in an attempt to restore as much of the removed content as possible. At Rowlands’ request, UCLA created an alternative print with almost ten minutes of content edited out, as Rowlands felt that these scenes were in poor taste. The alternative print is the only one that has been made available for rental.[14]

In 1985, Rowlands played the mother in the critically acclaimed made-for-TV movie An Early Frost. She won an Emmy for her portrayal of former First Lady of the United States Betty Ford in the 1987 made-for-TV movie The Betty Ford Story.

In 1988, Rowlands starred in Woody Allen’s dramatic film Another Woman. She played Marion Post, a middle-aged professor who is prompted to a journey of self-discovery when she overhears the therapy sessions of another woman (Mia Farrow). The review in Time Out described the character’s trajectory: “Marion gets to thinking, and is appalled to realise that so many assumptions about her own life and marriage are largely unfounded: in her desire for a controlled existence, she has evaded the emotional truth about relationships with her best friend (Sandy Dennis), brother (Harris Yulin) and husband (Ian Holm).” Time Out praised the “marvellous” performances in the film, adding, “Rowlands’ perfectly pitched approach to a demanding role is particularly stunning.”[15] Film4 called her performance “sublime”,[16] while Roger Ebert noted that it marked a considerable change in tone from her work with Cassavetes, thus showing “how good an actress Rowlands has been all along.”[17]

In 2002, Rowlands appeared in Mira Nair’s HBO movie Hysterical Blindness, for which she won her third Emmy. Next year she appeared as Mrs. Hellman an episode from the third season of Numb3rs. She played a Nazi survivor whose whole family was killed. The family owned a painting that the Nazis confiscated. Later on the painting reappeared. The new owner lent the painting to an art gallery in Los Angeles but while on display it was stolen. F.B.I. agent Don Eppes, played by Rob Morrow, tries to figure out what really happened. Rowlands received rave reviews for this role. She has been a spokesperson for people who were persecuted by the Nazis so this role was a perfect match for her.

She was later seen in The Notebook (2004), which was directed by her son Nick Cassavetes. The same year, she won her first Daytime Emmy for her role as Mrs. Evelyn Ritchie in The Incredible Mrs. Ritchie. In 2005, she appeared opposite Kate Hudson, Peter Sarsgaard, and John Hurt in the gothic thriller The Skeleton Key.

In 2007, she played a supporting role opposite Parker Posey and Melvil Poupaud in Broken English, an independent American feature written and directed by her daughter Zoe Cassavetes. In 2009, she appeared on an episode of Monk (“Mr. Monk and the Lady Next Door”). On March 2, 2010, she appeared on an episode of NCIS as lead character Leroy Jethro Gibbs’s former mother-in-law, who is embroiled in a murder investigation.[18] In 2014, she starred in the film adaptation of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks.

Rowlands was married to John Cassavetes from April 9, 1954, until his death on February 3, 1989. They met at the American Academy at Carnegie Hall where they were both students. They had three children, all actor-directors: Nick, Alexandra, and Zoe.

Rowlands married retired businessman Robert Forrest in 2012.

Rowlands has stated that she was a fan of actress Bette Davis while growing up. She played Davis’s daughter in the 1979 made-for-TV film, Strangers.

Filmography

1958 The High Cost of Loving Jenny Fry José Ferrer
1959 Shadows Woman in Nightclub John Cassavetes Uncredited
1962 Lonely Are the Brave Jerry Bondi David Miller
1962 The Spiral Road Els Robert Mulligan
1963 A Child Is Waiting Sophie Widdicombe John Cassavetes
1967 Tony Rome Rita Kosterman Gordon Douglas
1968 Faces Jeannie Rapp John Cassavetes
1969 Machine Gun McCain Rosemary Scott Giuliano Montaldo
1971 Minnie and Moskowitz Minnie Moore John Cassavetes
1974 A Woman Under the Influence Mabel Longhetti John Cassavetes
1976 Two-Minute Warning Janet Larry Peerce
1977 Opening Night Myrtle Gordon John Cassavetes
1978 The Brink’s Job Mary Pino William Friedkin
1980 Gloria Gloria Swenson John Cassavetes
1982 Tempest Antonia Dimitrius Paul Mazursky
1984 Love Streams Sarah Lawson John Cassavetes
1984 I’m Almost Not Crazy:
John Cassavetes, the Man & His Work Herself Michael Ventura Documentary Short
1987 Light of Day Jeanette Rasnick Paul Schrader
1988 Another Woman Marion Post Woody Allen
1990 Hollywood Mavericks Herself Florence Dauman
Dale Ann Stieber Documentary
1991 Once Around Marilyn Bella Lasse Hallström
1991 Night on Earth Victoria Snelling Jim Jarmusch
1991 Ted & Venus Mrs. Turner Bud Cort
1995 Something to Talk About Georgia King Lasse Hallström
1995 The Neon Bible Mae Morgan Terence Davies
1996 Unhook the Stars Mildred “Millie” Hawks Nick Cassavetes
1997 She’s So Lovely Miss Jane Green Nick Cassavetes
1998 Paulie Ivy John Roberts
1998 Hope Floats Ramona Calvert Forest Whitaker
1998 The Mighty Gram Peter Chelsom
1998 Playing by Heart Hannah Willard Carroll
1999 The Weekend Laura Ponti Brian Skeet
2000 Light Keeps Me Company Herself – interviewee Carl-Gustav Nykvist Documentary
2004 Taking Lives Mrs. Asher D. J. Caruso
2004 The Notebook Old Allie Calhoun Nick Cassavetes
2005 The Skeleton Key Violet Devereaux Iain Softley
2006 Paris, je t’aime Gena Gérard Depardieu Segment: Quartier Latin
2007 Broken English Vivien Wilder-Mann Zoe Cassavetes
2007 Persepolis Grandmother Marjane Satrapi
Vincent Paronnaud Voice; English dubbed version
2011 Olive Tess M Powell
2012 Yellow Mimi Nick Cassavetes
2013 Parts Per Billion Esther Brian Horiuchi
2014 Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks Lily Harrison Arthur Allan Seidelman