Actress Jill Clayburgh (seen here at the Broadway opening of "After Miss Julie" in October 2009), brought sophistication to her Hollywood and Broadway portrayals of empowered women in a career spanning five decades, highlighted by her Oscar-nominated role in the 1978 film "An Unmarried Woman." Clayburgh died November 5, 2010, at age 66.
Born in 1944 (to a mother who was a production secretary to theatre producer David Merrick), Jill Clayburgh joined the Charles Street Repertory Theater in Boston and appeared in several Broadway productions in the 1960s and early '70s, including the Bob Fosse musical "Pippin." Here Clayburgh attends the March 14, 1972 world premiere of "The Godfather" with Al Pacino.
Clayburgh made her screen debut in "The Wedding Party," an independent film co-directed by Brian De Palma in 1963 and released several years later when her costar, Robert De Niro, achieved fame. Her other early films include "Portnoy's Complaint," and the 1976 "Gable and Lombard" (playing Carole Lombard opposite James Brolin's Clark Gable). Clayburgh scored a commercial hit playing second (or is that third?) banana to Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in the comic thriller "Silver Streak" (1976).
Clayburgh's stardom was clinched by her performance as a divorcee exploring life after marriage in "An Unmarried Woman" (1978). In addition to an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, the film was up for Best Picture. Clayburgh also won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival.
Clayburgh with Alan Bates in "An Unmarried Woman." Bates played an artist with whom Clayburgh becomes involved after her husband leaves her for a younger woman.
"There was practically nothing for women to do on the screen in the 1950s and 1960s," Clayburgh said in an interview with The Associated Press while promoting "An Unmarried Woman" in 1978. "Sure, Marilyn Monroe was great, but she had to play a one-sided character, a vulnerable sex object. It was a real fantasy."
Actor Kirk Douglas visits backstage with Jill Clayburgh and Gerald Hiken, appearing in "Strider" at the Chelsea Theater Center in New York City, July 17, 1979.
Having appeared with Burt Reynolds in the 1978 sports comedy "Semi-Tough," the two shared the screen again in the 1979 romantic comedy "Starting Over." Reynolds plays a divorcee who must choose between girlfriend Clayburgh and ex-wife Candice Bergen. Both Clayburgh and Bergen were Oscar-nominated for their performances (Clayburgh as Best Actress, Bergen in for Supporting).
"La Luna" (1979), directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, told the story of a troubled young man (Matthew Marry) and his relationships with his parents and his biological father. The film received much controversy as it intimated at issues of incest between mother and son.
Clayburgh starred with Michael Douglas in the comedy-drama "It's My Turn" (1980). Clayburgh played a mathematics professor who falls for the son of her father's new bride. Clayburgh sparred rather than danced with Walter Matthau in the film version of "First Monday in October" (1981), as the first woman named to the Supreme Court.
In "Hanna K." (1983), directed by Costa-Gavras, Clayburgh plays an American Jewish attorney who defends a Palestinian in an Israeli court.
Clayburgh played the mother of the clan at the center of "Rich in Love" (1992). Also featured are Kathryn Erbe, Suzy Amis (now wife of James Cameron), and Albert Finney.
Clayburgh appeared in a 1998 episode of the series "Law & Order" titled "Divorce."
Clayburgh's TV credits go back to the 1960s, when she was a regular on the soap opera "Search for Tomrorow." In addition to appearance son "Maude," "The Rockford Files" and "Medical Center," Clayburgh has starred in the 2007-2009 ABC series "Dirty Sexy Money" (pictured). Her other TV appearances include "Ally McBeal," "Nip/Tuck" (for which she was nominated for a second Emmy Award), "Frasier" and "The Practice."
In "Running With Scissors" (2006), based on Augusten Burroughs' memoir, Clayburgh played the long-suffering wife of the therapist treating Joseph Cross.
Jill Clayburgh arrives at the world premiere of "Running With Scissors," at the Academy Theatre on October 10, 2006 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Actress Jill Clayburgh and daughter Lily Rabe arrive for opening night of "Exit The King" at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Mar. 26, 2009 in New York. The daughter of Clayburgh and her husband, playwright David Rabe, Lily Rabe has appeared on stage opposite Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice," and in the films "No Reservations" and "All Good Things."