June 19, 1954
Kathleen Turner was the third of four children born to a US Foreign Service couple. Her formative
years were nomadic, as the family moved from Canada to Cuba to Venezuela to England. While
attending high school in London, Kathleen became captivated by theatre. She did not see herself
as the film star she would later become, but saw herself on the stage. It was while in England
that she developed the sexy voice that would be her trademark.
Following the death of her father in her senior year, she moved back to her mother's family
home in Missouri. There she studied theatre at Southwest Missouri State University and later
transferred to the University of Maryland, where she graduated with a a degree in theatre arts
Within months of graduation, Kathleen moved to New York in 1977 with $100 in her pocket! For a
brief time she worked as a waitress but soon enough she had an
agent, and by year's end, she landed a role on Broadway in "Gemini", and a continuing role on the
NBC daytime serial "The Doctors." For her film debut, Kathleen's voice convinced Lawrence Kasdan
that she should be Matty Walker, a manipulative femme fatale in his directorial debut, 1981's
"Body Heat". Upon the film's release, she was a star.
Kathleen spoofed the steamy seductress role that made her a star in her next effort. Though she
did have to fight tooth-and-nail for it. The film was Carl Reiner's spoof of mad scientist films,
1983's "The Man with Two Brains", which paired her onscreen with the film's co-writer Steve
Martin. The next year, she co-starred with Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito in the comedy adventure
directed by Spielberg protege Robert Zemeckis in "Romancing the Stone". It was one of 1984's
Her next role was as China Blue, a fashion designer by day and a prostitute by night in Ken
Rusell's "Crimes of Passion". Often controversial, Russell was not going to change though the
film did have to be edited to obtain the R-rating Russell sought. Film critic Judith Christ
said that it was not the worst film of the year but the worst film of the past decade. Turner's
then fiance Jay Weiss objected to her nude scenes. When the film was released on video following
a rather skimpy run in cinemas, two versions of the film were available on video: the R-rated
theatrical release and the version which the MPAA gave an X-rating.
Kathleen portrayed a high school majorette who travels back to adolesence in Francis Ford
Coppola's "Peggy Sue Got Married" in 1986. She earned acclaim, even though she did not make
for a convincing high schooler, and Turner nabbed an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
She voiced the animated vamp Jessica Rabbit in Robert Zemeckis's groundbreaking effort mixing
live action and animation "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", the biggest hit of 1988, and coined
the phrase, "I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way".
Desiring to work on stage, Kathleen's next role was that of Southern vixen Maggie in a
Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire", earning her
her first Tony nomination. She continues to make her presence known onstage on both sides of
the Atlantic. Appearing as Mrs. Robinson in a London theatrical version of "The Graduate" and
a one-woman show in American theatres as Tallulah Bankhead.
When not strutting her stuff on stage and film, Kathleen sings for her husband's rock band The
Suits, and is mother to daughter Rachel.
Photo © Unknown - Bio by Robert Baum © 2001 [used with permission]
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