Stage and screen actress and singer Glenn Close (b. Greenwich, CT, March 19, 1947) is perhaps most renowned for three outstanding film roles: stalker Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction (1987), the scheming Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons (1988), and the fearsome Cruella De Vil in 101 Dalmatians (1996). Yet she she has turned in impressive performances in close to fifty films, many for television, earning five Oscar® nominations (The World According to Garp 1983, The Big Chill 1984, The Natural 1985), two Emmys® (Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story 1995, Damages 2008), and two Golden Globe Awards® (The Lion in Winter 2005, Damages 2008). She has appeared on Broadway with great success, both in musicals (Rex 1976, Barnum 1980, Sunset Boulevard 1994) and non-musicals (The Real Thing 1983, Benefactors 1985, Death and the Maiden 1992), garnering three Tony Awards®.
Both parents of Glenda Veronica Close came from prominent families, and among the actress’s distant relatives are Preston Sturges, Dina Merrill, Ulysses S. Grant, Princess Diana, and Brooke Shields. While she was growing up, her father, Dr. William Taliaferro Close – who still practices internal medicine in Big Piney, Wyoming – ran a clinic in the Belgian Congo (later Zaire) and served as personal physician to President Mobutu Sese Seko. Glenn Close divided her time between Africa and school in Switzerland. She then attended Rosemary Hall, a boarding high school in Connecticut, becoming a moving force in the school’s theatrical projects. While at the College of William and Mary, Close toured the United States with the politically conservative singing troupe called Up With People. After a short-lived marriage to guitarist Cabot Wade she returned to college, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the most prestigious academic honor society in the country.
After graduation Glenn Close joined New York’s New Phoenix Repertory Company as understudy to Mary Ure, the lead in Congreve’s Love for Love on Broadway. Ure was dismissed from the cast at the last minute before the opening performance, and Close became an overnight star. Active on Broadway for the next several years (The Member of the Wedding 1975, Rex 1976, The Crucifer of Blood 1978) and earning a Tony® nomination for Barnum (1980), she made her first feature film in 1982, The World According to Garp, as Robin Williams’s mother (she is only four years older than he). The role won her the first of three Oscar® nominations for Best Supporting Actress in as many years.
In 1984, she initiated a busy television career, starring in Something about Amelia, a Golden Globe®-winning show that gained Close an Emmy® nomination. The same year she returned to Broadway in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing, receiving a Tony® nomination. She thus became one of only three actors ever to be nominated for the three highest Awards – Oscar®, Emmy®, and Tony® – in the same year.
Other notable television appearances have included the 1991 Hallmark Hall of Fame drama Sarah, Plain and Tall and its two sequels, two stints as hostess of Saturday Night Live, and a star turn as Nellie Forbush in South Pacific (2001). Among her many other movies are Reversal of Fortune (1990), Meeting Venus (1991), The Paper (1994), Air Force One (1997), and Cookie’s Fortune (1999).
In 2005 Close had a signal success playing a precinct captain on the FX police series The Shield, resulting in her own spinoff series on the same network, Damages, which continues in 2009. She recently appeared at Carnegie Hall to narrate The Runaway Bunny, a concerto for reader, violin and orchestra.
Although Close has expressed the opinion that marriage is not a “natural state” and has had a varied series of romantic relationships, including two previous marriages and a daughter (Annie Maude Starke), she married her “longtime boyfriend,” biotechnology entrepreneur David Shaw, in 2006. They reside in New York and Scarborough, Maine. Close is an avid New York Mets fan and sings the National Anthem at their opening games whenever possible. She has amassed an enormous collection of costumes from her film roles. Politically, Glenn Close has abandoned the ultra-conservatism of her patrician forbears and donated money to the election campaigns of many Democrats.