Shirley MacLaine’s career as a diverse and talented performer spans six decades. This weekend, her talent will be recognized at the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors. The annual gala was created to honor “lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts.”
In the official announcement, The Kennedy Center said that “the remarkable breadth and range of Shirley MacLaine’s acting has left an indelible impression over a nearly 60-year career on stage and screen.”
Born Shirley MacLean Beatty, the Virginia native learned to dance when she was a young girl. Through the years, her interest in performing arts grew to include singing and acting. By the time she was in high school, she already landed a position in the chorus line for Oklahoma.
In the mid-1950s, MacLaine was an understudy for one of the lead characters in Broadway’s The Pajama Game. As reported by Biography, when the original performer was injured, MacLaine stepped in and gave a stellar performance.
Throughout her career the versatile performer has appeared in numerous stage productions and films. However, she said her favorite role was Aurora in Terms of Endearment.
Shirley MacLaine discussed her “favorite part” in an interview with CBS:
“She was everything… She … understood herself. She stood her ground… her humor… her anger… I adored her – still do.”
The 1983 film was also a favorite among critics and fans. The heartbreaking comedy-drama won five Academy Awards, including MacLaine’s award for Best Actress.
Although her brother is well-known actor Warren Beatty, MacLaine said there is little conflict or competition in their relationship. She said she always tried to look out for her brother as she was three years older.
During the interview, MacLaine also revealed a long-term relationship with actor Robert Mitchum. She said she “loved his complications” and was intrigued by certain aspects of his personality, which were apparently conflicting.
Although she was rumored to have romantic relationships with various members of the infamous “Rat Pack,” MacLaine said she merely “had a bit of a crush on Dean” Martin. However, she said Frank Sinatra simply “was not [her] type.”
In addition to Shirley MacLaine, this year’s Kennedy Center Honors recipients include Martina Arroya, Herbie Hancock, Billy Joel, and Carlos Santana.
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