22 June 1949
Summit, New Jersey
There is perhaps no greater actress in film today than the enchanting Meryl
Streep. A master of her craft, she can move from gripping drama to witty
comedy with remarkable grace, elevating any role she plays to new heights of
She was born Mary Louise Streep to loving parents Harry Jr. and Mary and
grew up with two younger brothers, Dana and Harry III in suburban New
Jersey. She pursued acting with a passion from a very young age, reading
plays in her spare time. She attended Vassar College in New York where she
earned a B.A. in English Literature and Drama. She continued her education
at the Yale School of Drama and earned her M.F.A in the profession that
would soon bring her international fame and honor.
She began working in stage productions in and around New York and made her
big-screen debut in a film called Julia, followed shortly thereafter by a
role in The Deer Hunter, which earned her her first Oscar nomination.
After her lover, John Cazale, died of bone cancer in 1978, Streep made the
following year one to remember. Starring in three critically-acclaimed
roles (The Seduction of Joe Tyan, Manhattan and Kramer vs. Kramer) she
quickly rose to the top of her profession, receiving the Academy Award for
Best Supporting Actress in Kramer vs. Kramer. She was also married that
year to her husband, Donald Gummer, a renowned sculptor.
More critical success came in the early 80s with her performance in The
French Lieutenant's Woman, co-starring Jeremy Irons. But it was her
stunning portrayal of a Polish immigrant who survived the horrors of the
Holocaust that won her the Oscar for Best Actress in Sophie's Choice and
solidified her position as Hollywood's most-respected leading lady.
The remarkable performances continued with films like Silkwood, Out of
Africa and A Cry in the Dark, displaying her ability to grasp any theatrical
idiom with remarkable insight, as well as her facility with foreign accents.
The late 80s took Streep in the direction of odd-ball comedies like Death
Becomes Her, She-Devil and Postcards From The Edge. She floundered in the
early 90s with less successful films such as House of the Spirits and the
action-adventure flick River Wild. Much more pleasing were her roles as the
neglected housewife in Clint Eastwood's adaptation of The Bridges of Madison
County and the blue-collar mom in Marvin's Room, tending to her dying and
estranged sister, played by Diane Keaton.
A heart-rending performance as a mother dying of cancer in One True Thing,
co-starring John Hurt, won rave reviews, as did her portrayal of a repressed
schoolmarm in the Irish drama Dancing at Lughnasa. In Music of the Heart
she plays a dedicated music teacher who brings new hope to an inner-city
elementary school and in The Hours she plays a literary editor who must come
to terms with her past and nurse a former lover through the last stages of
his battle with AIDS.
Streep is also a formidable activist, working as an environmentalist and a
promoter of literacy. She has four children and lives in rural New York
State with her family.
With two Oscars to her credit, and 10 other Academy Award nominations to
date, she is tied with Katharine Hepburn as the most-nominated female movie
star in history and has achieved world-wide acclaim as an actress with
Photo © Firooz Zahedi
Bio written by Andrew Ritchie © 2002 - [please let us know of any errors]
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