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April 24, 2023

Portraits of Shirley MacLaine From the 1950s

Born on April 24, 1934, in Richmond, Virginia, Shirley MacLaine has enjoyed an impressive career in film, television and the theater for more than six decades. She was originally named Shirley MacLean Beaty. Her first name was reportedly inspired by the famed child actress Shirley Temple. She later adapted her mother’s maiden name, “MacLean”, into her stage name of “MacLaine”.

During summers during high school, MacLaine went to New York City to study her craft and to pursue her dream of being an entertainer. She landed a part in the chorus in a new production of the musical Oklahoma after her junior year. When the summer ended, MacLaine returned home to finish school.

MacLaine’s big break came in the mid-1950s with the Broadway musical The Pajama Game. She was a member of the show’s chorus as well as an understudy for one of its lead characters. After producer Hal Wallis saw her perform, MacLaine landed a contract with Paramount Pictures. She made her film debut in 1955’s The Trouble with Harry directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Three years later, MacLaine picked up her first Academy Award nomination for Some Came Running. This Vincente Minnelli-directed drama starred Frank Sinatra as a soldier who returns home after World War II. MacLaine plays Ginnie Moorehead, a party girl who falls for Sinatra’s character and follows him to his hometown. Off-screen, MacLaine befriended Sinatra, Dean Martin and the rest of their friends known as the Rat Pack. She even appeared in their 1960 crime caper Ocean’s Eleven, which also featured Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford.

Known for her portrayals of quirky, strong-willed and eccentric women, she has received numerous accolades over her seven-decade career, including an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, two British Academy Film Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, two Volpi Cups and two Silver Bears. Below is a selection of some of fascinating portraits of Shirley MacLaine from the 1950s:


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