Bates in 2015
Kathleen Doyle Bates
June 28, 1948
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
(m. 1991; div. 1997)
|Relatives||Finis L. Bates (grandfather)|
Kathleen Doyle Bates (born June 28, 1948) is an American actress and director. She is the recipient of numerous accolades, including an Academy Award, three American Comedy Awards, two Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, an Obie Award, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, she studied theatre at the Southern Methodist University before moving to New York City to pursue an acting career. She landed minor stage roles before being cast in her first on screen role in Taking Off (1971). Her first Off-Broadway stage performance was in the 1976 production of Vanities. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, she continued to perform on screen and on stage, appearing in a variety of films, television series, and plays. She garnered a Tony Award nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Play in 1983 for her performance in 'night, Mother, and won an Obie Award in 1988 for her performance in Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.
Bates' performance in the 1990 horror film Misery, based on the book of the same name by Stephen King, marked her Hollywood breakthrough. Her role as Annie Wilkes was met with widespread critical acclaim and she subsequently won the Academy Award for Best Actress and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama the following year.
She next starred in Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), for which she received a BAFTA Award nomination, and Dolores Claiborne (1995), another well-received Stephen King adaptation. She portrayed Molly Brown in James Cameron's epic romance and disaster film Titanic (1997), which became the highest-grossing film ever at the time. She received her second and third Academy Award nominations for her work in Primary Colors (1998) and About Schmidt (2002), both in the category of Best Supporting Actress.
Bates' television work has resulted in 14 Emmy Award nominations, including two for her role as Harriet "Harry" Korn on the NBC series Harry's Law (2011-12). She won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her appearance on the ninth season of Two and a Half Men (2012) and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie her portrayal of Delphine LaLaurie on the third season of American Horror Story (2014). She also received accolades for her portrayal of Miss Hannigan in the 1999 television adaptation of Annie. Her directing credits include several episodes of the HBO television series Six Feet Under (2001-03).
Bates was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the youngest of three daughters of mechanical engineer Langdon Doyle Bates (July 28, 1900 - March 6, 1989) and homemaker Bertye Kathleen (née Talbert; January 26, 1907 - February 15, 1997). Her paternal grandfather was lawyer and author Finis L. Bates. Her great-great-grandfather was an Irish emigrant to New Orleans, Louisiana, who served as President Andrew Jackson's doctor. She graduated early from White Station High School (1965) and from Southern Methodist University (1969), where she studied theatre and became a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority. She moved to New York City in 1970 to pursue an acting career.
After moving to New York City, Bates worked several odd jobs as well as minor stage roles while struggling to find work as an actress. At one point, she worked as a cashier at the Museum of Modern Art.
In 1971, Bates was cast in a minor role in the Milo? Forman comedy Taking Off (credited as "Bobo Bates"), her first on screen role in a feature film. Following this, she continued to struggle to find acting roles, later claiming in an interview with The New York Times that more than one casting agent told her that she wasn't sufficiently attractive to be a successful actress:
"I'm not a stunning woman. I never was an ingenue; I've always just been a character actor. When I was younger it was a real problem, because I was never pretty enough for the roles that other young women were being cast in. The roles I was lucky enough to get were real stretches for me: usually a character who was older, or a little weird, or whatever. And it was hard, not just for the lack of work but because you have to face up to how people are looking at you. And you think, 'Well, y'know, I'm a real person.'"
After Taking Off was released, Bates didn't work on another feature film until she appeared opposite Dustin Hoffman in Straight Time (1978). Throughout the 1970s, she continued to perform on stage. Her first Off-Broadway performance was in the 1976 production of Vanities. Bates subsequently originated the role of Lenny in the first production of Crimes of the Heart at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in 1979. Beginning in 1980, she appeared in Lanford Wilson's Fifth of July. In 1982, she starred in the Robert Altman-directed Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean with Karen Black and Cher. During this time, she also began working in television, starring in a variety of soap operas such as The Doctors, All My Children, and One Life to Live.
The New York Times wrote that, in the early 1980s, Bates "established herself as one of America's finest stage actresses". In 1983, she was nominated for a Tony Award nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Play for her role in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play 'night, Mother. The stage production ran for more than a year. She found further success on Off Broadway, in Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, for which she won an Obie Award for Best Actress in 1988. McNally specifically wrote the play for Bates. She later succeeded Amy Irving in the Off-Broadway production of The Road to Mecca in 1988. Around this time, she shifted her focus to screen acting, with roles in The Morning After (1986), Summer Heat (1987), and Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy (1990).
Bates' performance in the 1990 horror film Misery, based on the book of the same name by Stephen King, marked her Hollywood breakthrough. The film was a commercial and critical success and her performance as Annie Wilkes was met with widespread critical adulation. The following year, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama. The American Film Institute included Annie Wilkes (as played by Bates) in their "100 Heroes and Villains" list, ranking her as the 17th most iconic villain (and sixth most iconic villainess) in film history.
Soon after, she starred in the acclaimed 1991 film Fried Green Tomatoes, based on the novel by comedic actress Fannie Flagg. For her performance in this film, she received a BAFTA Award nomination. In 1995, Bates played the title character in Dolores Claiborne, another well-received Stephen King adaptation, for which she was nominated for Best Actress at the 22nd Saturn Awards.
In 1995, Bates began working behind the screen as well, as a director, on several television series; her early directing jobs include episodes of Great Performances, Homicide: Life on the Street, and NYPD Blue.
In 1996, Bates received her first Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, for her performance as Jay Leno's manager Helen Kushnick in HBO's The Late Shift (1996). That role also earned Bates her second Golden Globe Award win in the category of Best Supporting Actress - Series, Miniseries or Television Film and her first Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie.
Bates gained wider recognition in 1997 when she portrayed Molly Brown in James Cameron's epic romance and disaster film Titanic, based on the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. The film became the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide in 1998, and remained so for twelve years, until Avatar (2009), also written and directed by Cameron, surpassed it in 2010.
She received her second Academy Award nomination (and first in the Best Supporting Actress category) for her work as the acid-tongued political advisor Libby Holden in Primary Colors (1998), which was adapted from the book by political journalist Joe Klein. The following year, she was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her work in the sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun as well as for Outstanding Directing in a Miniseries or Movie for her work on the Dashiell Hammett-Lillian Hellman biopic Dash & Lilly. In 2000, Bates received another Emmy Award nomination for her turn as Miss Hannigan in Disney's remake of Annie (1999).
In 2002, she received her third Academy Award nomination, again in the Best Supporting Actress category, for performance as an aging free-spirited woman in About Schmidt, opposite Jack Nicholson. A scene in the film, which features Bates completely nude entering a hot tub, was noted by critics and received significant public attention.NPR called it "the scene everyone is talking about". Bates spoke about the scene in several interviews; speaking to Hello!, she said:
"People either laugh or cheer ... I was at the premiere and there are a lot of women who are shouting, 'You go, girl!' ... I think there are a lot of women in the audience who are thrilled to see a real woman up on the screen in all her glory."
Throughout the 2000s, Bates worked consistently in Hollywood cinema, often playing supporting roles in number of mainstream films, such as Rumor Has It... (2005), Failure to Launch (2006), P.S. I Love You (2007), The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), The Blind Side (2009), and Valentine's Day (2010). In 2006, she directed and co-starred in her feature film directorial debut, Have Mercy (2006), with Melanie Griffith. In 2008, she re-teamed with her Titanic co-stars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, in Revolutionary Road. In 2011, she portrayed famed art collector Gertrude Stein in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris.
During this time, she also appeared frequently on television. She starred in ten episodes of the HBO cable television series Six Feet Under for which she received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2003. She also directed several episodes of the series. Bates received yet another Emmy Award nomination, in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, for Lifetime Television's Ambulance Girl (2006), which she also directed.
From 2010 to 2011, she had a recurring guest role on the NBC sitcom The Office as Jo Bennett. Her first lead role on a television series was in David E. Kelley's legal drama Harry's Law, which began airing on NBC on January 17, 2011, but was later cancelled on May 14, 2012. In 2012, Bates made a guest appearance on Two and a Half Men as the ghost of Charlie Harper on the episode "Why We Gave Up Women", which aired on April 30, 2012. This guest appearance resulted in Bates winning her first Emmy Award, in the category of Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, following nine nominations.
In 2013, she began starring in the American Horror Story series' third season, Coven, as Delphine LaLaurie, an immortal racist who is brought back into the modern world after spending years buried alive. For that role, she won her second Emmy Award, in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie. Bates claimed that Ryan Murphy, the creator of the series, "resurrected [her] career".
Bates returned for the fourth season of American Horror Story, Freak Show, this time as Ethel Darling, a bearded lady who performs in a freak show. She subsequently returned again for the fifth season, Hotel, where she played Iris, the hotel's hateful manager. Bates returned for her fourth, and the show's sixth season, Roanoke, playing two characters--Thomasin "The Butcher" White and Agnes Mary Winstead. She received further Emmy Award nominations for each season.
In 2018, she appeared in two films: in Xavier Dolan's critically panned arthouse film The Death and Life of John F. Donovan and as political activist Dorothy Kenyon in the Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic On the Basis of Sex. That year, she also guest-starred in the finale of the 11th season of The Big Bang Theory. In 2019, Bates portrayed American politician Miriam A. Ferguson in the Netflix film The Highwaymen.
In June 2016, the Human Rights Campaign released a video in tribute to the victims of the 2016 Orlando gay nightclub shooting; in the video, Bates and others told the stories of the people killed there.
Bates has successfully battled ovarian cancer since her diagnosis in 2003. In September 2012, she revealed via Twitter that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer two months earlier and had undergone a double mastectomy. In 2014, at the New York Walk for Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases, Bates announced via pre-recorded audio that, due to the double mastectomy, she has lymphedema in both arms. That year, Bates became a national spokesperson for lymphedema and chairperson for the Lymphatic Education & Research Network's (LE&RN) honorary board.
On May 11, 2018, Bates led advocates in a Capitol Hill Lobby Day to garner congressional support for further research funding. The next day, May 12, Bates addressed supporters at the first-ever DC/VA Walk to Fight Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases at the Lincoln Memorial. She was awarded the 2018 WebMD Health Heroes "Game Changer" Award for her role in raising awareness of this chronic lymphatic disease.