actress, director, producer
Born June 28, 1948 in Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Multi-talented, multi-award-winning actress Kathleen (Doyle) Bates was born on June 28, 1948, and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. She is the youngest of three girls born to Bertye Kathleen (Talbot), a homemaker, and Langdon Doyle Bates, a mechanical engineer. Her grandfather was author Finis L. Bates. Kathy has English, as well as Irish, Scottish, and German, ancestry, and one of her ancestors, an Irish emigrant to New Orleans, once served as President Andrew Jackson's doctor. Kathy discovered acting appearing in high school plays and studied drama at Southern Methodist University, graduating in 1969. With her mind firmly set, she moved to New York City in 1970 and paid her dues by working everything from a cash register to taking lunch orders. Things started moving quickly up the ladder after giving a tour-de-force performance alongside Christopher Walken at Buffalo's Studio Arena Theatre in Lanford Wilson's world premiere of "Lemon Sky" in 1970, but she also had a foreshadowing of the heartbreak to come after the successful show relocated to New York's off-Broadway Playhouse Theatre without her and Walken wound up winning a Drama Desk award. By the mid-to-late 1970s, Kathy was treading the boards frequently as a rising young actress of the New York and regional theater scene. She appeared in "Casserole" and "A Quality of Mercy" (both 1975) before earning exceptional reviews for her role of Joanne in "Vanities". She took her first Broadway curtain call in 1980's "Goodbye Fidel," which lasted only six performances. She then went directly into replacement mode when she joined the cast of the already-established and highly successful "Fifth of July" in 1981. Kathy made a false start in films with Taking Off (1971), in which she was billed as "Bobo Bates". She didn't film again until Straight Time (1978), starring Dustin Hoffman, and that part was not substantial enough to cause a stir. Things turned hopeful, however, when Kathy and the rest of the female ensemble were given the chance to play their respective Broadway parts in the film version of Robert Altman's Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982). It was a juicy role for Kathy and film audiences finally started noticing the now 34-year-old. Still and all, it was the New York stage that continued to earn Kathy awards and acclaim. She was pure textbook to any actor studying how to disappear into a role. Her characters ranged from free and life-affirming to downright pitiable. Despite winning a Tony Award nomination and Outer Critic's Circle Award for her stark, touchingly sad portrait of a suicidal daughter in 1983's "'night, Mother" and the Obie and Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for her powerhouse job as a romantic misfit in "Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune," Kathy had no box-office pull, however, and was never a strong consideration when the roles transferred to the screen. Her award-winning stage went to established film stars. First Sissy Spacek took over her potent role as the suicidal Jessie Cates in 'night, Mother (1986), then Michelle Pfeiffer seized the moment to play her dumpy lover character in Frankie and Johnny (1991). It would take Oscar glory to finally rectify the injustice. It was Kathy's fanatical turn as the drab, chunky, porcine-looking psychopath Annie Wilkes, who kidnaps her favorite author (James Caan) and subjects him to a series of horrific tortures, that finally turned the tide for her in Hollywood. With the 1990 shocker Misery (1990), based on the popular Stephen King novel, Bates and Caan were box office magic. Moreover, Kathy captured the "Best Actress" Oscar and Golden Globe award, a first in that genre (horror) for that category. To add to her happiness she married Tony Campisi, also an actor, in 1991. Quality film scripts now started coming her way and the 1990s proved to be a rich and rewarding time for her. First, she and another older "overnight" film star, fellow Oscar winner Jessica Tandy, starred together in the modern portion of the beautifully nuanced, flashback period piece Fried Green Tomatoes (1991). She then outdid herself as the detached and depressed housekeeper accused of murdering her abusive husband (David Strathairn) in Dolores Claiborne (1995). Surprisingly, she was left out of the Oscar race for these two excellent performances. Not so, however, for her flashy political advisor Libby Holden in the movie Primary Colors (1998), receiving praise and a "Best Supporting Actress" nomination. Kathy has continued to work prolifically on TV as a 14-time Emmy winner or nominee thus far. She has also taken to directing a couple of TV-movies on the sly. As most actors, she has been in hit and miss TV shows. On the hit side, she has earned a Golden Globe and Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Jay Leno's manager playing tough politics in The Late Shift (1996) and played to the hilt the cruel-minded orphanage operator, Miss Hannigan, in Annie (1999) for which she also earned an Emmy nom. She has done some eye-catching, offbeat turns on regular series such as Six Feet Under (2001) (for which she also earned a DGA award for helming an episode), The Office (2005), Harry's Law (2011) and especially American Horror Story (2011) for which she won an Emmy as Ethel Darling. She also won an Emmy for a guest episode on the hit sitcom Two and a Half Men (2003). Interesting millennium filming have included a Catholic school's Mother Superior in the comic drama Bruno (2000); Jesse James' mother in American Outlaws (2001); a quirky, liberal mom in About Schmidt (2002) for which she earned another "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar nomination; a brief but potent turn as Gertrude Stein in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris (2011); Queen Victoria in the adventurous remake of Around the World in 80 Days (2004); wacky parent types in the comedies Failure to Launch (2006) and Relative Strangers (2006); Mother Claus in the seasonal farce Fred Claus (2007); an over-gushy foster mother in the dramedy The Great Gilly Hopkins (2015); and a wrenching performance as the mother of a suspected terrorist in Richard Jewell (2019) for which she earned her third "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar nomination. Divorced from husband Campisi since 1997, Kathy has been the Executive Committee Chair of the Actors Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors.
Critics Choice AwardBest Supporting Actress Primary Colors (1999)