Born to an American father of English descent and a Canadian mother of Irish and Scottish ancestry, Shirley MacLaine graduated from
high school and moved to New York City to
live out her dream of being a Broadway actress.
She achieved her goal when she became understudy
to actress Carol Haney
in The Pajama Game; Haney broke her ankle and MacLaine
replaced her. A few months thereafter, with Haney
still out of commission, director/producer Hal B. Wallis
was in the audience, took note of MacLaine, and signed her to go
to Hollywood to work for Paramount Pictures.
Her first film was the
film The Trouble
with Harry in 1955. Her film career is now
in its fifth decade. MacLaine was nominated for the
Academy Award of Best Actress in a Leading Role
five times: in 1958 for Some Came Running,
in 1960 for The Apartment,
in 1963 for Irma La Douce, in 1977 for
The Turning Point and in 1983 for Terms of Endearment
(which she finally won). In 1975, she also received a
nomination for Best Documentary Feature
for her documentary The Other Half of
the Sky: A China Memoir.
MacLaine was also the only female
member of the infamous Rat Pack, alongside Frank
Sinatra, Dean Martin
and Sammy Davis, Jr..
MacLaine was married to businessman Steve Parker
from 1954 to 1982. They had a daughter, actress Sachi Parker, who was born and raised in Japan. In political circles, MacLaine
is known for her close friendship with Ohio congressman
Dennis Kucinich, a candidate for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination.