Actress Kathy Bates was born on June 28, 1948, in Memphis, Tennessee. Until the 1990s, she had only minor parts in television series and lackluster films. But with the critical and popular success of Misery, her film career hit an upswing. Her success in Misery was matched by her role in Fried Green Tomatoes. She has also had prominent roles in Dolores Claiborne, Diabolique, Titanic, The Waterboy and Primary Colors.
Early Life and Career
Born Kathleen Doyle Bates on June 28, 1948, in Memphis, Tennessee, Kathy Bates has enjoyed a long and successful career as an actress. She initially wanted to study English while at Southern Methodist University, but soon switched her major to theater. After graduating from the school in 1970, Bates moved to New York City. There, she worked a number of jobs to make ends meet, including stints as a cashier at New York City's Museum of Modern Art and a singing waitress in a Catskill resort.
Bates made her film debut in Milos Foreman's Taking Off (1971), playing a minor role. She eventually established herself as a stage actress, finding success with the off-Broadway play Vanities in the mid-1970s. In 1980, Bates made her way to Broadway for the first time in the short-lived Goodbye, Fidel.
Three years later, Bates distinguished herself in Marsha Norman's 'Night Mother. She played a woman who discusses her desire to commit suicide with her mother in the play, for which she earned a Tony nomination. Bates also played Lenny McGrath in Beth Henley's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Crimes of the Heart—a role that went to Diane Keaton for the 1986 film adaptation. In 1987, she gave another critically acclaimed performance as the abused waitress Frankie in Terence McNally's off-Broadway play Frankie and Johnny at the Clair de Lune. Bates won a prestigious Obie award for her work in the production.
After minor parts on such lackluster films like Straight Time (1978) and Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988), Kathy Bates had a career breakthrough with the 1990 Stephen King adaptation Misery, in which she plays a crazed fan of a romance author (James Caan). Her character rescues the author after an accident near her home and then resorts to brutal measures to get the author to rewrite his latest work. Bates won an Academy Award for her gripping portrayal of a lonely, desperate and obsessive woman.
Bates soon followed up that success with her comic turn in Fried Green Tomatoes (1992), which earned her a Golden Globe Award. Over the few next years, she was a hot streak, landing prominent roles in Dolores Claiborne (1994), Diabolique (1996), Titanic (1997) and The Waterboy (1998). Her work in the political satire Primary Colors (1998) earned her an Academy Award nomination.
Bates continued to enjoy some success on the big screen. She appeared in Bruno (2000) with Gary Sinise and Shirley MacLaine (who also directed the film). In the 2002 drama About Schmidt, Bates gave an Academy Award-nominated performance opposite Jack Nicholson.
In addition to acting, Bates has garnered acclaim for her work behind the camera. She has directed episodes of the hit television dramas Homicide, NYPD Blue and Oz, as well as A&E's Dash and Lilly (1999), starring Sam Shepard, Judy Davis and Bebe Neuwirth.
Bates showed off her comedic chops on the popular comedy The Office in a recurring role from 2010 to 2011. She then took a starring role on the legal drama Harry's Law, created by David E. Kelley; the show lasted for two seasons. Around this same time, Bates portrayed writer Gertrude Stein in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris (2011), starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams.
In late 2012, Bates put work on the back burner to focus on her health after was diagnosed with breast cancer, and underwent a double mastectomy. She had previously been treated for ovarian cancer. Following her recovery, she signed on to appear on the third season of the hit show American Horror Story, for which she won a 2014 supporting actress Emmy. She would go on to earn another Emmy nomination for her role in American Horror Story as "Ethel Darling" in 2015.
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