Warren Beatty

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Warren Beatty
Warren Beatty.jpg
Beatty in 2001
Henry Warren Beaty

(1937-03-30) March 30, 1937 (age 85)
Alma mater Northwestern University
  • Actor
  • filmmaker
Years active1956–present
Known forAs director:
Political party Democratic
(m. 1992)

Henry Warren Beatty [lower-alpha 1] ( Beaty; born March 30, 1937) is an American actor and filmmaker, whose career spans over six decades. He was nominated for 15 Academy Awards, including four for Best Actor, four for Best Picture, two for Best Director, three for Original Screenplay, and one for Adapted Screenplay – winning Best Director for Reds (1981). Beatty is the only person to have been nominated for acting in, directing, writing, and producing the same film, and he did so twice: first for Heaven Can Wait (with Buck Henry as co-director), and again for Reds. [lower-alpha 2]


Eight of the films he produced earned 53 Academy nominations, and in 1999, he was awarded the Academy's highest honor, the Irving G. Thalberg Award. Beatty was nominated for 18 Golden Globe Awards, winning six, including the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2007. Among his Golden Globe nominated films are Splendor in the Grass (1961), his screen debut, Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Shampoo (1975), Heaven Can Wait (1978), Reds (1981), Dick Tracy (1990), Bugsy (1991), Bulworth (1998), and Rules Don't Apply (2016), all of which he also produced.

Director and collaborator Arthur Penn described Beatty as "the perfect producer", adding, "He makes everyone demand the best of themselves. Warren stays with a picture through editing, mixing, and scoring. He plain works harder than anyone else I have ever seen." [8] Beatty's films often have a left-leaning political message. Praising Bulworth, Patricia J. Williams said: "[Beatty] knows power... and this movie is effective precisely because it takes on the issue of power."

With Bonnie and Clyde, Beatty helped to usher in New Hollywood – a movement in American film history from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, when a new generation of young filmmakers came to prominence in the United States. [9]

Early life

Henry Warren Beaty was born March 30, 1937, in Richmond, Virginia. His mother, Kathlyn Corinne (née MacLean), was a teacher from Nova Scotia. His father, Ira Owens Beaty, studied for a PhD in educational psychology and was a teacher and school administrator, in addition to working in real estate. [10] Beatty's grandparents were also teachers. The family was Baptist. [11] [12] During Warren's childhood, Ira Beaty moved his family from Richmond to Norfolk and then to Arlington and Waverly, then back to Arlington, eventually taking a position at Arlington's Thomas Jefferson Junior High School in 1945. During the 1950s, the family resided in the Dominion Hills section of Arlington. [13] Beatty's older sister is the actress, dancer and writer Shirley MacLaine. His uncle, by marriage, was Canadian politician A. A. MacLeod.

Beatty became interested in movies as a child, often accompanying his sister to theaters. One film that had an important early influence on him was The Philadelphia Story (1940), which he saw when it was re-released in the 1950s. He noticed a strong resemblance between its star, Katharine Hepburn, and his mother, in both appearance and personality, saying that they symbolized "perpetual integrity". [4] Another film that influenced him was Love Affair (1939), starring one of his favorite actors, Charles Boyer. [4] He found it "deeply moving," and recalled that "[t]his is a movie I always wanted to make." [4] He remade Love Affair in 1994, starring alongside Annette Bening and Katharine Hepburn.

Among his favorite TV shows in the 1950s was the Texaco Star Theatre , and he began to mimic one of its regular host comedians, Milton Berle. Beatty learned to do a "superb imitation of Berle and his routine," said a friend, and often used Berle-type humor at home. [4] His sister Shirley MacLaine's memories of her brother include seeing him reading books by Eugene O'Neill or singing along to Al Jolson records. [4] In Rules Don't Apply (2016), Beatty plays Howard Hughes, who is shown talking about and singing Jolson songs while flying his plane. [14]

MacLaine noted—on what made her brother want to become a filmmaker, sometimes writing, producing, directing and starring in his films: "That's why he's more comfortable behind the camera ... He's in the total-control aspect. He has to have control over everything." [4] Beatty doesn't deny that need; in speaking about his earliest parts, he said "When I acted in films I used to come with suggestions about the script, the lighting, the wardrobe, and people used to say 'Waddya want, to produce the picture as well?' And I used to say that I supposed I did." [15]


Beatty was a star football player at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington. Encouraged to act by the success of his sister, who established herself as a Hollywood star, he decided to work as a stagehand at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. during the summer before his senior year. After graduation, he was reportedly offered ten college football scholarships, but turned them down to study liberal arts at Northwestern University (1954–55), where he joined the Sigma Chi fraternity. Beatty left college after his first year and moved to New York City to study acting under Stella Adler at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting. [16]


1950s and 1960s

Beatty started his career making appearances on television shows such as Studio One (1957), Kraft Television Theatre (1957), and Playhouse 90 (1959). He was a semi-regular on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis during its first season (1959–60). His performance in William Inge's A Loss of Roses on Broadway garnered him a 1960 Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play and a 1960 Theatre World Award. It was his sole appearance on Broadway. [17]

He made his film debut in Elia Kazan's Splendor in the Grass (1961), opposite Natalie Wood. The film was a critical and box office success and Beatty was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, and received the award for New Star of the Year – Actor. [18] The film was also nominated for two Oscars, winning one.

Author Peter Biskind points out that Kazan "was the first in a string of major directors Beatty sought out, mentors or father figures from whom he wanted to learn." [5] Beatty, years later during a Kennedy Center tribute to Kazan, told the audience that Kazan "had given him the most important break in his career." [5] Biskind adds that they "were wildly dissimilar—mentor vs. protege, director vs. actor, immigrant outsider vs. native son. Kazan was armed with the confidence born of age and success, while Beatty was virtually aflame with the arrogance of youth." [5] Kazan recalls his impressions of Beatty:

Warren—it was obvious the first time I saw him—wanted it all and wanted it his way. Why not? He had the energy, a very keen intelligence, and more chutzpah than any Jew I've ever known. Even more than me. Bright as they come, intrepid, and with that thing all women secretly respect: complete confidence in his sexual powers, confidence so great that he never had to advertise himself, even by hints. [19]

Mr. Beatty's career has had all the hallmarks of the conventional Hollywood golden boy. Ingratiating good looks, disarming youthfulness, a delight in the social life and no apparently strong feelings about his craft. This image has now been strikingly shattered with his emergence as a vividly individual actor and as a highly imaginative producer in the gangster ballad, Bonnie and Clyde ... At 28 [sic], the image of Warren Beatty, fun-loving playboy, is dead. Warren Beatty, a man of the cinema, is born.

—Gerald Garrett, syndicated movie columnist [15]

He followed his initial film with Tennessee Williams' The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961), with Vivien Leigh and Lotte Lenya, directed by Jose Quintero; All Fall Down (1962), with Angela Lansbury, Karl Malden and Eva Marie Saint, directed by John Frankenheimer; Lilith (1963), with Jean Seberg and Peter Fonda, directed by Robert Rossen; Promise Her Anything (1964), with Leslie Caron, Bob Cummings and Keenan Wynn, directed by Arthur Hiller; Mickey One (1965), with Alexandra Stewart and Hurd Hatfield, directed by Arthur Penn; and Kaleidoscope (1966), with Susannah York and Clive Revill, directed by Jack Smight. In 1965, he formed a production company, Tatira, which he named for Kathlyn (whose nickname was "Tat") and Ira. [20]

At age 29, Beatty produced and acted in Bonnie and Clyde , released in 1967. He assembled a team that included the writers Robert Benton and David Newman, and the director, Arthur Penn. Beatty selected most of the cast, including Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Gene Wilder and Michael J. Pollard. Beatty also oversaw the script and spearheaded the delivery of the film.

Beatty in 1961 Warren Beatty Photoplay, 1961.jpg
Beatty in 1961

Beatty chose Gene Hackman because he had acted with him in Lilith in 1964 and felt he was a "great" actor. [21] Upon completion of the film, he credited Hackman with giving the "most authentic performance in the movie, so textured and so moving," recalls Dunaway. [21] Beatty was so impressed with Gene Wilder after seeing him in a play and didn't ask him to audition for what became Wilder's screen debut. And Beatty had already known Pollard: "Michael J. Pollard was one of my oldest friends," Beatty said. "I'd known him forever; I met him the day I got my first television show. We did a play together on Broadway." [21]

Bonnie and Clyde became a critical and commercial success, despite the early misgivings by studio head Jack Warner, who put up the production money. Before filming began, Warner said, "What does Warren Beatty think he's doing? How did he ever get us into this thing? This gangster stuff went out with Cagney." [21] The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor, and seven Golden Globe Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor. [18] Beatty was originally entitled to 40% of the film's profits but gave 10% to Penn and his 30% share earned him more than $6 million. [22]

1970s and 1980s

After Bonnie and Clyde, Beatty acted with Elizabeth Taylor in The Only Game in Town (1970), directed by George Stevens; McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), directed by Robert Altman; and Dollars (1971), directed by Richard Brooks.

In 1972, Beatty produced a series of benefit concerts to help with publicity and fundraising in the George McGovern 1972 presidential campaign. Beatty first put together Four for McGovern at The Forum in the Los Angeles area, convincing Barbra Streisand, Carole King and James Taylor to perform. Streisand brought Quincy Jones and his Orchestra, and recorded the album Live Concert at the Forum . [23] Two weeks later, Beatty mounted another concert at the Cleveland Arena, in which Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon joined James Taylor. [24] In June, Beatty produced Together for McGovern at Madison Square Garden, reuniting Simon and Garfunkel, Nichols and May, and Peter, Paul and Mary, and featuring Dionne Warwick. [25] With these productions, campaign manager Gary Hart said that Beatty had "invented the political concert". [4] He had mobilized Hollywood celebrities for a political cause on a scale previously unseen, creating a new power dynamic. [5]

Beatty appeared in the films The Parallax View (1974), directed by Alan Pakula; and The Fortune (1975), directed by Mike Nichols. Taking greater control, Beatty produced, co-wrote and acted in Shampoo (1975), directed by Hal Ashby, which was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay, as well as five Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture and Best Actor. In 1978, Beatty directed, produced, wrote and acted in Heaven Can Wait (1978) (sharing co-directing credit with Buck Henry). The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Adapted Screenplay. It also won three Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture and Best Actor.

A film [Reds] of this scope and size demands incredible work from the director, and when you consider that Beatty also served as producer, writer and star, it's hard to believe so much work could come from one man. As a film, it's a marvelous view of America in the 1912-19 era, and Beatty brought some superior performances from a large cast.

—Joe Pollack, syndicated columnnist [26]

Beatty's next film was Reds (1981), a historical epic about American Communist journalist John Reed who observed the Russian October Revolution – a project Beatty had begun researching and filming for as far back as 1970. It was a critical and commercial success, despite being an American film about an American Communist made and released at the height of the Cold War. It received 12 Academy Award nominations – including four for Beatty (for Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Original Screenplay), winning three; Beatty won for Best Director, Maureen Stapleton won for Best Supporting Actress (playing anarchist Emma Goldman), and Vittorio Storaro won for Best Cinematography. [27] The film received seven Golden Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture, Director, Actor and Screenplay. Beatty won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director.

Following Reds, Beatty did not appear in a film for five years until 1987's Ishtar , written and directed by Elaine May. [28] Following severe criticism in press reviews by the new British studio chief David Puttnam just prior to its release, the film received mixed reviews and was unimpressive commercially. [29] Puttnam attacked several other over-budget U.S. films greenlighted by his predecessor and was fired shortly thereafter. [30]

1990s and 2000s

Beatty at the 62nd Academy Awards (1990) Warren Beatty (1990).jpg
Beatty at the 62nd Academy Awards (1990)

Under his second production company, Mulholland Productions, [31] Beatty produced, directed and played the title role of comic strip-based detective Dick Tracy in the 1990 film of the same name. The film received positive reviews and was one of the highest-grossing films of the year. [32] It received seven Academy Award nominations, winning three for Best Art Direction, Best Makeup, and Best Original Song. [33] It also received four Golden Globe Award nominations, including Best Motion Picture. [34]

In 1991, he produced and starred as the real-life gangster Bugsy Siegel in the critically acclaimed and commercially successful film Bugsy , directed by Barry Levinson, which was nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor; it later won two of the awards for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. [35] The film also received eight Golden Globe Award nominations, including Best Motion Picture and Best Actor, winning for Best Motion Picture. Beatty's next film, Love Affair (1994), directed by Glenn Gordon Caron, received mixed reviews and was a commercial failure.

In 1998, he wrote, produced, directed and starred in the political satire Bulworth , which was critically acclaimed and nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. [36] The film also received three Golden Globe Award nominations, for Best Motion Picture, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay. [37] Beatty has appeared briefly in numerous documentaries, including Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991) and One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern (2005).

Following the poor box office performance of Town & Country (2001), in which Beatty starred, he did not appear in or direct another film for 15 years.

In May 2005, Beatty sued Tribune Media, claiming he still maintained the rights to Dick Tracy . [38] On March 25, 2011, U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson ruled in Beatty's favor. [39]


Rules Don't Apply (2016)

Who else is better equipped to understand the symbiosis between show business and politics and to assert that when a certain degree of wealth and power have been achieved, the ordinary rules of human behavior can be flouted?... Fools and idiots abound, but demonic, systemic evil does not. Mr. Beatty obviously loves Hollywood, which has been good to him.

Stephen Holden, New York Times [40]

In 2010, Beatty directed and reprised his role as Dick Tracy in a 30-minute comedy film titled Dick Tracy Special, which premiered on TCM. The short metafiction film stars Dick Tracy and film critic and historian Leonard Maltin, the latter of whom discusses the history and creation of Tracy. Tracy talks about how he admired Ralph Byrd and Morgan Conway who portrayed him in several films, but says he didn't care much for Beatty's portrayal of him or his film. [41] At CinemaCon In April 2016, Beatty said he intends to make a Dick Tracy sequel. [42]

Rules Don't Apply (2016), is a fictionalized true-life romantic comedy about Howard Hughes, set in 1958 Hollywood and Las Vegas. [43] It stars Beatty, who wrote, co-produced and directed the film. It co-stars Alden Ehrenreich and Lily Collins, with supporting actors including Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, Matthew Broderick, Candice Bergen, Ed Harris and Martin Sheen. Some have said that Beatty's film is 40 years in the making. [44] In the mid-1970s, Beatty signed a contract with Warner Bros. to star in, produce, write, and possibly direct a film about Howard Hughes. [45] The project was put on hold when Beatty began Heaven Can Wait . Initially, Beatty planned to film the life story of John Reed and Hughes back-to-back, but as he was getting deeper into the project, he eventually focused primarily on the Reed film Reds . In June 2011, it was reported that Beatty would produce, write, direct and star in a film about Hughes, focusing on an affair he had with a younger woman in the final years of his life. [46] During this period, Beatty interviewed actors to star in his ensemble cast. He met with Andrew Garfield, Alec Baldwin, Owen Wilson, Justin Timberlake, Shia LaBeouf, Jack Nicholson, Evan Rachel Wood, Rooney Mara, and Felicity Jones. [47] It was released on November 23, 2016, and was Beatty's first film in 15 years. [48] [lower-alpha 3] Rotten Tomatoes' "Top Critics" gave the film a 63% "Fresh" rating, [49] with one review calling it "hugely entertaining." [50] Another review said that "the wait was worth it." [51] The film was also a commercial disappointment. [52]

In 2017, Beatty reunited with his Bonnie and Clyde co-star Faye Dunaway at the 89th Academy Awards, in celebration of the film's 50th anniversary. After being introduced by Jimmy Kimmel, they walked out onto the stage to present the Best Picture Award. They had been given the wrong envelope, leading Dunaway to incorrectly announce La La Land as Best Picture, instead of the actual winner, Moonlight . [53] [54] This became a social media sensation, trending all over the world. [55] In 2018, Beatty and Dunaway returned to present Best Picture at the 90th Academy Awards, earning a standing ovation upon their entrance, making jokes about the previous year's flub. Without incident, Beatty announced The Shape of Water as the winner. [56]

Personal life

Beatty has been married to actress Annette Bening since 1992. They have four children. Their oldest child came out as transgender (FTM) in 2012. [57]

Before marriage

Prior to marrying Bening, Beatty was notorious for his large number of romantic relationships that received generous media coverage, having been linked to over 100 female celebrities. Leslie Caron said "Warren always had girlfriends who resembled his sister". [58] Cher stated that "Warren has probably been with everybody I know". [59] Beatty woke Caron up during the night, she recalled, telling her that he was worried that she was not thinking of him. Caron later realized that it was a sign of his narcissism. [58]


Beatty with Diane Keaton and First Lady Nancy Reagan, at a White House screening of Reds (1981) Nancy Reagan with Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton.jpg
Beatty with Diane Keaton and First Lady Nancy Reagan, at a White House screening of Reds (1981)

Beatty is a longtime supporter of the Democratic Party. In 1972, Beatty was part of the "inner circle" of Senator George McGovern's presidential campaign. He traveled extensively and was instrumental in organizing fundraising. [60] Despite differences in politics, Beatty was also a friend of Republican Senator John McCain, with whom he agreed on the need for campaign finance reform. He was one of the pallbearers chosen by McCain himself at the senator's funeral in 2018. [61]


1967 Bonnie and Clyde NoYesNo
1975 Shampoo NoYesYes
1978 Heaven Can Wait YesYesYes
1981 Reds YesYesYes
1987 Ishtar NoYesNo
1990 Dick Tracy YesYesNo
1991 Bugsy NoYesNo
1994 Love Affair NoYesYes
1998 Bulworth YesYesYes
2016 Rules Don't Apply YesYesYes

Acting credits


1961 Splendor in the Grass Bud Stamper
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone Paolo di Leo
1962 All Fall Down Berry-Berry Willart
1964 Lilith Vincent Bruce
1965 Mickey One Mickey One
Promise Her Anything Harley Rummell
1966 Kaleidoscope Barney Lincoln
1967 Bonnie and Clyde Clyde Barrow
1970 The Only Game in Town Joe Grady
1971 McCabe & Mrs. Miller John McCabe
Dollars Joe Collins
1974 The Parallax View Joseph Frady
1975 Shampoo George Roundy
The Fortune Nicky Wilson
1978 Heaven Can Wait Joe Pendleton
1981 Reds John Reed
1987 Ishtar Lyle Rogers
1990 Dick Tracy Dick Tracy
1991 Bugsy Bugsy Siegel
1994 Love Affair Mike Gambril
1998 Bulworth Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth
2001 Town & Country Porter Stoddard
2016 Rules Don't Apply Howard Hughes


1957 Kraft Television Theater Roy NicholasEpisode: "The Curly Headed Kid"
Westinghouse Studio One 1st Card PlayerEpisode: "The Night America Trembled"
Suspicion BoyEpisode: "Heartbeat"
1959 Look Up and Live BoyEpisode: "The Square"
Episode: "The Family"
Playhouse 90 Episode: "Dark December"
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis Milton ArmitageEpisode: "The Best Dressed Man"
Episode: "The Sweet Singer of Central High"
Episode: "Dobie Gillis, Boy Actor"
1960Episode: "The Smoke-Filled Room"
Episode: "The Fist Fighter"
Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond Harry GraysonEpisode: "The Visitor"
2008 The Dick Tracy TV Special Dick TracyTelevision film


1959A Loss of RosesKenny Eugene O'Neill Theatre, Broadway [62]

Awards and honors

Beatty at the 47th Venice Film Festival in 1990, aged 53 Warren Beatty 01.jpg
Beatty at the 47th Venice Film Festival in 1990, aged 53

Beatty has received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award from the Americans for Democratic Action, [63] the Brennan Legacy Award from the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, [64] the Phillip Burton Public Service Award from the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, [65] and the Spirit of Hollywood Award from the Associates for Breast and Prostate Cancer Studies. Beatty was a founding board member of the Center for National Policy, a founding member of the Progressive Majority, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, has served as the Campaign Chair for the Permanent Charities Committee, and has participated in the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. He served on the Board of Trustees at the Scripps Research Institute, [66] and the Board of Directors of the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation. He was named Honorary Chairman of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in 2004. [67]

The National Association of Theatre Owners awarded him with the Star of the Year Award in 1975, and in 1978 the Director of the Year Award and the Producer of the Year Award. He received the Alan J. Pakula Memorial Award from the National Board of Review in 1998. [68] He received the Akira Kurosawa Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002 from the San Francisco International Film Festival. [69] He has received the Board of Governors Award from the American Society of Cinematographers, [70] the Distinguished Director Award from the Costume Designers Guild, [71] the Life Achievement Award from the Publicists Guild, [72] and the Outstanding Contribution to Cinematic Imagery Award from the Art Directors Guild. [73] In 2004, he received the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C., [74] and the Milestone Award from the Producers Guild of America. [75] He was honored with the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award in 2008. [76] In March 2013, he was inducted into the California Hall of Fame. [77] In 2016, he was honored by the Museum of the Moving Image [78] and received the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. [79]

Beatty has received a number of international awards: in 1992, he was made a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (France); [80] in 1998, he was nominated for a Golden Lion for Best Film ( Bulworth ), and received a Career Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival; [81] in 2001, he received the Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Sebastián International Film Festival; [82] in 2002, he received the British Academy Fellowship from BAFTA; [83] and in 2011, he was awarded the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award. [84]

Unmade projects

Explanatory notes

  1. Beatty changed the original spelling Beaty, pronounced /ˈbti/ BAY-tee, [1] [2] [3] in 1957. Both Warren Beatty and his sister, Shirley MacLaine, have said they consider only this pronunciation correct, and Warren was fond of saying the name should rhyme with "weighty", not "Wheaties". [4] [5] But the pronunciation /ˈbti/ BEE-tee is so common that it is also or exclusively recorded in some reliable reference works. [6] [7]
  2. Orson Welles was nominated for acting in, directing, and writing Citizen Kane . Though the film was also nominated for Best Picture and Welles was its producer, that award was not given to individual producers until 1951.
  3. It began principal photography in February 2014 and wrapped in June of the same year. [44]

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89th Academy Awards Award ceremony for films of 2016

The 89th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored the best films of 2016, and took place on February 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, at 5:30 p.m. PST. During the ceremony, AMPAS presented Academy Awards in 24 categories. The ceremony, televised in the United States by ABC, was produced by Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd and directed by Glenn Weiss. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel hosted the ceremony for the first time.


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Further reading