Virginia Cathryn "Gena" Rowlands (born June 19, 1930) is an American actress, whose career in film, stage, and television has spanned over six decades. A four-time Emmy and two-time Golden Globe winner, she is known for her collaborations with her late actor-director husband John Cassavetes in ten films, including A Woman Under the Influence (1974) and Gloria (1980), which earned her nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She also won the Silver Bear for Best Actress for Opening Night (1977). In November 2015, Rowlands received an Honorary Academy Award in recognition of her unique screen performances.
Rowlands in 1955
Virginia Cathryn Rowlands
June 19, 1930
Cambria, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Alma mater||American Academy of Dramatic Arts|
(m. 1954; died 1989)
|Parent(s)||Edwin Myrwyn Rowlands|
Rowlands was born on June 19, 1930, in Madison, Wisconsin. Her mother, Mary Allen (Neal), was a housewife who later worked as an actress under the stage name Lady Rowlands. Her father, Edwin Myrwyn Rowlands, was a banker and state legislator. He was a member of the Wisconsin Progressive Party, and was of Welsh descent. She had a brother, David Rowlands.
Her family moved to Washington, D.C., in 1939, when Edwin was appointed to a position in the United States Department of Agriculture; moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1942, when he was appointed as branch manager of the Office of Price Administration; and later moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. From 1947–50, she attended the University of Wisconsin, where she was a popular student already renowned for her beauty. While in college, she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. She left for New York City to study drama at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
In the early 1950s, Rowlands performed with repertory theatre companies and at the Provincetown Playhouse. She made her Broadway debut in The Seven Year Itch and toured in a national production of the play. Rowlands costarred with Paul Stewart in the 26-episode syndicated TV series Top Secret (1954–55), and she guest starred on such anthology television series as Robert Montgomery Presents, Appointment with Adventure, Kraft Television Theatre, and Studio One (1955). In 1956, she starred in Middle of the Night opposite Edward G. Robinson. She appeared alongside her husband John Cassavetes on an episode ("Fly Baby, Fly") of the 1959–60 NBC detective series Johnny Staccato. She also appeared on an episode of the NBC western series, Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin, and the ABC adventure series, The Islanders, set in the South Pacific. Also in 1959, Rowlands appeared in the Western series Laramie episode titled "Run to Tumavaca". Rowlands made her film debut in The High Cost of Loving in 1958.
In 1961–62, she starred in David Miller's "Lonely are the Brave", with Kirk Douglas and Walter Mathau and Carroll O'Connor. She starred as Jerri Bondi, the wife of Paul Bondi, (Michael Kane) but still deeply caring for ex-lover, cowboy Jack Burns, (Kirk Douglas) in a fantastically moving performance. In that same season, she appeared on ABC's Target: The Corruptors!, starring Stephen McNally. She also guest starred in CBS's The Lloyd Bridges Show and ABC's Breaking Point. In 1963, she guest-starred in an episode on the NBC western series, Bonanza, Laramie and The Virginian, and "The Lonely Hours", "Murder Case" and "Ride The Nightmare" on CBS's The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. In 1967, she was cast as socialite Adrienne Van Leyden in the prime time ABC soap opera Peyton Place.
Rowlands and Cassavetes made ten films together: A Child Is Waiting (1963), Faces (1968), Machine Gun McCain (1969), Minnie and Moskowitz (1971), A Woman Under the Influence (1974; nomination for Academy Award for Best Actress), Two-Minute Warning (1976), Opening Night (1977), Gloria (1980; nomination for Academy Award for Best Actress), Tempest (1982), and Love Streams (1984).
According to Boston University film scholar Ray Carney, Rowlands sought to suppress an early version of Cassavetes' first film, Shadows, that Carney says he rediscovered after decades of searching. Rowlands also became involved in the screenings of Husbands and Love Streams, according to Carney. The UCLA Film and Television Archive mounted a restoration of Husbands, as it was pruned down (without Cassavetes' consent, and in violation of his contract) by Columbia Pictures several months after its release, in an attempt to restore as much of the removed content as possible. At Rowlands' request, UCLA created an alternative print with almost ten minutes of content edited out, as Rowlands felt that these scenes were in poor taste. The alternative print is the only one that has been made available for rental.
In 1985, Rowlands played the mother in the critically acclaimed made-for-TV movie An Early Frost. She won an Emmy for her portrayal of former First Lady of the United States Betty Ford in the 1987 made-for-TV movie The Betty Ford Story.
In 1988, Rowlands starred in Woody Allen's dramatic film Another Woman. She played Marion Post, a middle-aged professor who is prompted to a journey of self-discovery when she overhears the therapy sessions of another woman (Mia Farrow). The review in Time Out described the character's trajectory: "Marion gets to thinking, and is appalled to realise that so many assumptions about her own life and marriage are largely unfounded: in her desire for a controlled existence, she has evaded the emotional truth about relationships with her best friend (Sandy Dennis), brother (Harris Yulin) and husband (Ian Holm)." Time Out praised the "marvellous" performances in the film, adding, "Rowlands' perfectly pitched approach to a demanding role is particularly stunning." Film4 called her performance "sublime", while Roger Ebert noted that it marked a considerable change in tone from her work with Cassavetes, thus showing "how good an actress Rowlands has been all along."
In 2002, Rowlands appeared in Mira Nair's HBO movie Hysterical Blindness, for which she won her third Emmy. She was later seen in The Notebook (2004), which was directed by her son Nick Cassavetes. The same year, she won her first Daytime Emmy for her role as Mrs. Evelyn Ritchie in The Incredible Mrs. Ritchie. In 2005, she appeared opposite Kate Hudson, Peter Sarsgaard, and John Hurt in the gothic thriller The Skeleton Key.
In 2003 she appeared as Mrs. Hellman in Numb3rs. She played a Nazi survivor whose whole family was killed. The family owned a painting that the Nazis confiscated. Later on the painting reappeared. The new owner lent the painting to an art gallery in Los Angeles but while on display it was stolen. The F.B.I. agent, played by Don Eppes, tries to figure out what really happened. Gena Rowlands received rave reviews for this role. She has been a spokesperson for people who were persecuted by the Nazis so this role was a perfect match for her.
In 2007, she played a supporting role opposite Parker Posey and Melvil Poupaud in Broken English, an independent American feature written and directed by her daughter Zoe Cassavetes. In 2009, she appeared on an episode of Monk ("Mr. Monk and the Lady Next Door"). On March 2, 2010, she appeared on an episode of NCIS as lead character Leroy Jethro Gibbs's former mother-in-law, who is embroiled in a murder investigation. In 2014, she starred in the film adaptation of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks.
Rowlands was married to John Cassavetes from April 9, 1954, until his death on February 3, 1989. They met at the American Academy at Carnegie Hall where they were both students. They had three children, all actor-directors: Nick, Alexandra, and Zoe. Rowlands married retired businessman Robert Forrest in 2012.
Rowlands has been nominated for two Academy Awards, eight Primetime Emmy Awards, one Daytime Emmy Award, eight Golden Globe Awards, three Satellite Awards, and two SAG Awards. Some of her notable wins are a Silver Bear for Best Actress, three Primetime Emmy Awards and one Daytime Emmy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, two National Board of Review Awards, and two Satellite Awards.
In January 2015, Rowlands was presented with a lifetime achievement award by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. At the 2015 Governors Awards, she received an Honorary Academy Award. The press release described Rowland as "an original talent" whose "devotion to her craft has earned her worldwide recognition as an independent film icon".
|1958||The High Cost of Loving||Jenny Fry|
|1959||Shadows||Woman in Nightclub Audience||Uncredited
Directed by John Cassavetes
|1959||Laramie - The Run to Tumavaca||Laurel DeWalt|
|1960||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Lucille|
|1962||Lonely Are the Brave||Jerry Bondi|
|1962||The Spiral Road||Els|
|1963||A Child Is Waiting||Sophie Widdicombe Benham||Directed by John Cassavetes|
|1967||Tony Rome||Rita Kosterman|
|1968||Faces||Jeannie Rapp||Directed by John Cassavetes|
|1969||Machine Gun McCain||Rosemary Scott||Also known as Gli intoccabili|
|1971||Minnie and Moskowitz||Minnie Moore||Directed by John Cassavetes|
|1974||A Woman Under the Influence||Mabel Longhetti||Directed by John Cassavetes
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
|1975||Columbo: Playback||Elizabeth Van Wick|
|1977||Opening Night||Myrtle Gordon||Directed by John Cassavetes|
|1978||The Brink's Job||Mary Pino|
|1978||A Question of Love||Linda Ray Guettner|
|1979||Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter||Abigail Mason|
|1980||Gloria||Gloria Swenson||Directed by John Cassavetes|
|1982||Faerie Tale Theatre||The Witch||Season 2 Episode: Rapunzel|
|1983||Thursday's Child||Victoria Alden||Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film|
|1984||Love Streams||Sarah Lawson||Directed by John Cassavetes
Nastro d'Argento Best Foreign Actress
|1985||An Early Frost||Katherine Pierson||Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie|
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
|1987||Light of Day||Jeanette Rasnick|
|1987||The Betty Ford Story||Betty Ford||Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie|
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
|1988||Another Woman||Marion Post|
|1989||I'm Almost Not Crazy: John Cassavetes, the Man and His Work||Herself|
|1991||Once Around||Marilyn Bella|
|1991||Night on Earth||Victoria Snelling|
|1991||Ted & Venus||Mrs. Turner|
|1991||Face of a Stranger||Pat Foster||Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie|
|1992||Crazy in Love||Honora Swift||Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film|
|1993||Silent Cries||Peggy Sutherland|
|1993||Anything for John||Herself|
|1994||Parallel Lives||Francie Pomerantz|
|1995||Something to Talk About||Georgia King|
|1995||The Neon Bible||Mae Morgan|
|1996||Unhook the Stars||Mildred 'Millie' Hawks||Directed by Nick Cassavetes|
|1997||She's So Lovely||Miss Jane Green||Directed by Nick Cassavetes|
|1998||Hope Floats||Ramona Calvert||Lone Star Film & Television Award for Best Supporting Actress|
|1998||Playing by Heart||Hannah|
|1999||The Weekend||Laura Ponti||Nominated — Seattle International Film Festival Citation of Excellence for Ensemble Cast Performance|
|2000||Light Keeps Me Company||Herself – interviewee|
|2000||The Color of Love: Jacey's Story||Georgia Porter||Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie|
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
|2001||Wild Iris||Minnie Brinn||Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie|
|2002||Charms for the Easy Life||Ms. Charlie Kate|
|2003||Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There||Herself|
|2003||Hysterical Blindness||Virginia Miller||Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Miniseries or a Movie|
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
|2004||The Incredible Mrs. Ritchie||Evelyn Ritchie||Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children/Youth/Family Special|
|2004||Taking Lives||Mrs. Asher|
|2004||The Notebook||Old Allie Calhoun||Directed by Nick Cassavetes|
|2005||The Skeleton Key||Violet Devereaux||Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress|
|2006||Paris, je t'aime||Gena||(segment "Quartier Latin")|
|2007||Broken English||Vivien Wilder-Mann||Directed by Zoe Cassavetes|
|2007||Persepolis||Marjane's grandmother||Voice role, English dubbed version|
|2007||What If God Were the Sun?||Melissa Eisenbloom||Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie|
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
|2009||Monk||Marge Johnson||Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series|
|2011||Olive||Tess M Powell|
|2012||Yellow||Mimi||Directed by Nick Cassavetes|
|2013||Parts Per Billion||Esther|
|2014||Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks||Lily Harrison|
A Woman Under the Influence is a 1974 American drama film written and directed by John Cassavetes. The story follows a woman (Gena Rowlands) whose unusual behavior leads to conflict with her blue-collar husband (Peter Falk) and family. It received two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Director. In 1990, A Woman Under the Influence was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", one of the first fifty films to be so honored.An Early Frost
An Early Frost is a 1985 American made-for-television drama film and the first major film, made for television or feature films, to deal with the topic of AIDS. It was first broadcast on the NBC television network on November 11, 1985. It was directed by John Erman, from the Emmy Award-winning teleplay written by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman, (story by Sherman Yellen). Aidan Quinn stars as Michael Pierson, a Chicago attorney who goes home to break the news – that he is gay and has AIDS – to his parents, played by Ben Gazzara and Gena Rowlands.Broken English (2007 film)
Broken English is a 2007 American romance film written and directed by Zoe Cassavetes and starring Parker Posey, Melvil Poupaud, Drea de Matteo, Justin Theroux, Peter Bogdanovich, and Gena Rowlands.Crazy in Love (film)
Crazy in Love is a 1992 American comedy film directed by Martha Coolidge and written by Gerald Ayres. It is based on the 1988 novel Crazy in Love by Luanne Rice. The film stars Holly Hunter, Gena Rowlands, Bill Pullman, Julian Sands, Herta Ware and Frances McDormand. The film premiered on TNT on August 10, 1992.Faces (film)
Faces is a 1968 drama film, written and directed by John Cassavetes, and starring John Marley, Cassavetes' wife Gena Rowlands, Fred Draper, Seymour Cassel, and Lynn Carlin. In 2011, it was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.Hysterical Blindness (film)
Hysterical Blindness is a TV movie made for HBO, directed by Mira Nair and starring Gena Rowlands, Uma Thurman, Juliette Lewis and Ben Gazzara. The movie premiered on HBO on August 21, 2002 to good reviews. In 2003, Uma Thurman won a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of Debby Miller. Ben Gazzara and Gena Rowlands also won Best Supporting Actor/Actress awards for their performances as Virginia Miller and Nick Piccolo at the 2003 Emmy Awards.
The opening titles by Trollbäck + Company won a Primetime Emmy award for Outstanding Main Title Design in 2003.
In the film Thurman plays an excitable New Jersey woman in the 1980s searching for romance. The San Francisco Chronicle review wrote, “Thurman so commits herself to the role, eyes blazing and body akimbo, that you start to believe that such a creature could exist — an exquisite looking woman so spastic and needy that she repulses regular Joes. Thurman has bent the role to her will”.John Cassavetes
John Nicholas Cassavetes (; December 9, 1929 – February 3, 1989) was a Greek-American actor, film director, and screenwriter. Cassavetes was a pioneer of American independent film, writing and directing over a dozen movies, which he partially self-financed, and pioneered the use of improvisation and a cinéma vérité style. He also acted in many Hollywood films, notably Rosemary's Baby (1968) and The Dirty Dozen (1967). He studied acting with Don Richardson, utilizing an alternative technique to method acting which privileged character over traditional narrative. His income from acting made it possible for him to direct his own films independently.Cassavetes was nominated for three separate Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor for The Dirty Dozen (1967), Best Original Screenplay for Faces (1968) and Best Director for A Woman Under the Influence (1974). He collaborated frequently with various actors, including his wife Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, and Seymour Cassell.
His children Nick Cassavetes, Zoe Cassavetes, and Xan Cassavetes are also filmmakers.Minnie and Moskowitz
Minnie and Moskowitz is a 1971 film by John Cassavetes, starring his wife, Gena Rowlands, and actor Seymour Cassel in the title roles of Minnie and Moskowitz, respectively.Only Lonely
"Only Lonely" is a song by American rock band Bon Jovi. It was the first single taken from their second album, 7800° Fahrenheit (1985).
Debuting on the Hot 100 on April 20, 1985, it peaked at #54 and remained on the charts for eight weeks. The song fared better on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, where it peaked at #28 in May. In the UK, it reached #24.
"Only Lonely" was played in the 1987 drama film Light of Day starring Michael J. Fox, Gena Rowlands, Joan Jett and Michael McKean.
Only Lonely was performed as a part of the encore in Bon Jovi's March 24, 2010 Circle Tour concert in Philadelphia.Opening Night (1977 film)
Opening Night is a 1977 American drama film written and directed by John Cassavetes, and starring Gena Rowlands, Ben Gazzara, Joan Blondell, Paul Stewart, Zohra Lampert, and Cassavetes.Playing by Heart
Playing by Heart is a 1998 American comedy-drama film, which tells the story of several seemingly unconnected characters. It was entered into the 49th Berlin International Film Festival. It stars Gillian Anderson, Ellen Burstyn, Sean Connery, Anthony Edwards, Angelina Jolie, Jay Mohr, Ryan Phillippe, Dennis Quaid, Gena Rowlands, Jon Stewart and Madeleine Stowe.Provenance (Numbers)
"Provenance" is the third episode of the third season of the American television show Numb3rs. Inspired by real-life instances, the episode features a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigation into a stolen painting which may have a tainted provenance. Gena Rowlands, who works as an advocate for Holocaust survivors, portrayed a Holocaust survivor who claimed that the painting was originally her family's painting. Within the series, the episode also depicts the Eppes family as Jewish.
"Provenance" first aired in the United States on October 6, 2006. Critics gave the episode positive reviews. They felt moved by the episode's plot and by Rowland's performance.Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks (film)
Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks is a 2014 Hungarian-American comedy-drama film starring Gena Rowlands and Cheyenne Jackson alongside a supporting cast including Jacki Weaver, Rita Moreno, Julian Sands and Anthony Zerbe. The film was adapted by Richard Alfieri from his play of the same name and directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman. It was the final film of director of photography Vilmos Zsigmond, who died two years after the film's release in 2016.Tempest (1982 film)
Tempest is a 1982 American comedy-drama film directed by Paul Mazursky. It is a loosely based, modern-day adaptation of the William Shakespeare play, The Tempest. The picture features John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands, Susan Sarandon, Raúl Juliá and Molly Ringwald in her feature film debut.The Spiral Road
The Spiral Road is a 1962 American adventure drama film directed by Robert Mulligan and starring Rock Hudson, Burl Ives, Gena Rowlands, and Geoffrey Keen. The film was released by Universal-International in the United States in 1962, the same year that Mulligan's other movie To Kill a Mockingbird became a critical and commercial success.
The movie was filmed in Suriname in South America and was shot in Eastmancolor.Unhook the Stars
Unhook the Stars is a 1996 American drama film directed by Nick Cassavetes and starring his mother Gena Rowlands, Marisa Tomei, and Gérard Depardieu. Rowlands plays Mildred, a widow who befriends the wayward Monica (Tomei), a single mother from across the street, and eventually finds herself babysitter of Monica's young son, J.J. Throughout the film, Monica and J.J. inadvertently teach Mildred valuable life lessons about herself and her relationships with others.
Rowlands and Tomei both received SAG Award nominations for their performances. The film's title refers to a song of the same name by Cyndi Lauper, which can be heard over the closing credits.What If God Were the Sun?
What If God Were the Sun? is a 2007 American television film directed by Stephen Tolkin and starring Lacey Chabert and Gena Rowlands. Written by Janet Dulin Jones and Jamie Pachino, based in part on a novel by John Edward, the film is about a dedicated nurse whose life is disrupted by her father's death. After losing her job, she finds comfort and inspiration in caring for a terminally ill woman with a quick wit and strong faith. What If God Were the Sun? was originally broadcast by Lifetime Television on May 14, 2007.Wild Iris (film)
For plants called wild iris, see Dietes iridioides and Iris.Wild Iris is a 2001 drama film starring Laura Linney, Gena Rowlands, Emile Hirsch, and Fred Ward, with Miguel Sandoval, Scott Gibson, and Lee Tergesen in supporting roles. The screenplay was by Kent Broadhurst. It was the last movie directed by Daniel Petrie.