Jill Clayburgh

Jill Clayburgh
Jill Clayburgh.JPG
Jill Clayburgh in Griffin and Phoenix (1976)
Born(1944-04-30)April 30, 1944
DiedNovember 5, 2010(2010-11-05) (aged 66)
EducationSarah Lawrence College
Years active1968–2010
David Rabe
(m. 1979; her death 2010)

Jill Clayburgh (April 30, 1944 – November 5, 2010) was an American actress known for her work in theater, television, and cinema. She won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the 1978 film An Unmarried Woman. She would receive a second Best Actress Academy Award nomination for the 1979 film Starting Over as well as four Golden Globe nominations for her film performances.

Clayburgh made her Broadway debut in 1968 and starred in the original Broadway productions of the musicals The Rothschilds (1970) and Pippin (1972), and returned in 1984 for the revival of the play Design for Living. On television, she appeared in episodes of Medical Center, Maude, and The Rockford Files, before starring in the 1975 TV film Hustling, which earned her the first of two Emmy Award nominations. She received a second Emmy nomination for her 2004 guest role in the drama series Nip/Tuck, and went on to star in the drama series Dirty Sexy Money (2007–09). Her film roles included Gable and Lombard (1976), Silver Streak (1976), Semi-Tough (1977), La Luna (1979), First Monday in October (1981), Shy People (1987), Fools Rush In (1997), Running With Scissors (2006) and Bridesmaids (2011).

Early life[]

Clayburgh was born in New York City, the daughter of Julia Louise (née Dorr; 1910–1975),[1] an actress and theatrical production secretary for producer David Merrick, and Albert Henry "Bill" Clayburgh, a manufacturing executive.[2][3][4] Her paternal grandmother was concert and opera singer Alma Lachenbruch Clayburgh.[5]

Clayburgh's mother was Protestant[6] and her father was Jewish,[7][8] though reportedly never talked about her religious background and was raised in no faith.[6] She was raised on Manhattan's Upper East Side, where she attended the Brearley School.[7] She then attended Sarah Lawrence College, where she decided that she wanted to be an actress.


Early Career[]

Clayburgh joined the Charles Street Repertory Theater in Boston.

Clayburgh made her screen debut in The Wedding Party, written and directed by Brian De Palma. It was filmed in 1963 but not released until six years later. Her co stars included Robert de Niro and Jennifer Salt.

She debuted off-Broadway in the double bill of The Indian Wants the Bronx and It's Called the Sugar Plum by Israel Horovitz where she replaced Marsha Mason. The cast included Al Pacino.

Clayburgh appeared on a soap opera, Search for Tomorrow in 1968. That year she also guest starred on an episode of N.Y.P.D. alongside Al Pacino.

Clayburgh made her Broadway debut in 1968 in The Sudden and Accidental Re-Education of Horse Johnson, starring Jack Klugman, which ran for 5 performances.

She starred in a 1969 off-Broadway production of the Henry Bloomstein play Calling in Crazy, at the Andy Warhol owned Fortune theatre.

She was in a TV pilot that did not sell, The Choice (1969) and appeared off Broadway in The Nest (1970).

Broadway Success[]

Clayburgh appeared in the Broadway musical The Rothschilds (1970-72) which ran for 502 performances.

Clayburgh had a small role in The Telephone Book (1971) and Portnoy's Complaint (1972).

She had another Broadway success with Pippin (1972-75), which ran for 1944 performances.

After guest starring on an episode of The Snoop Sisters, Clayburg played Ryan O'Neal's ex wife in The Thief Who Came to Dinner (1973) and starred in a TV pilot that was not picked up, Going Places (1973).

Clayburgh starred in some TV movies, Tiger on a Chain (1973) and Shock-a-bye, Baby (1973) and had a role in The Terminal Man (1974). She guest starred on Medical Centre, Maude, and The Rockford Files.

She returned to Broadway for Tom Stoppard's Jumpers, which ran for 48 performances.

Clayburgh had some good roles in TV movies like Hustling (1975) and The Art of Crime (1975). Her performance in Hustling earned her an Emmy nomination and she says it revitalised her career.[9][10]

Film Stardom[]

Clayburgh received a lot of publicity when cast as Carole Lombard in the biopic Gable and Lombard (1976) with James Brolin. She did an acclaimed TV movie with Peter Falk, Griffin and Phoenix (1976).

Clayburgh had her first big box office success playing the love interest of Gene Wilder's character in the comedy-mystery Silver Streak (1976), co-starring Richard Pryor.

She had another hit with Semi-Tough (1977), a comedy starring Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson.

Clayburgh received the first of her two nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress was for An Unmarried Woman (1978), for which she won the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival (tied with Isabelle Huppert). It was also popular at the box office.[11]

Clayburgh went to Italy to make Luna (1979) for Bernardo Bertolucci. The film presents an incestuous relationship and was poorly received at the time.[9]

Back in the US she starred in Starting Over (1979), a comedy with Burt Reynolds, which earned her a second Oscar nomination. She returned to the stage with The Boom Boom Room (1979).[12]

She was teamed with Michael Douglas in a romantic comedy, It's My Turn (1980), in which she teaches the proof of the snake lemma. She was a conservative Supreme Court justice in First Monday in October (1981), a comedy with Walter Matthau.

Clayburgh then turned to more dramatic material. She was a valium addict in I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can (1981), written by David Rabe, who became her husband. "I guess people look at me and they think I'm a ladylike character," said Clayburgh, "but it's not what I do best. I do best with characters who are coming apart at the seams."[12] In Hanna K. (1983) she was an Israel defending Palestinians for director Costa Gravas. The film was a box office failure and hurt Clayburgh's career.[13]

Clayburgh returned to Broadway for a revival of Design For Living (1984-85) which ran for 245 performances.

TV Movies[]

Clayburgh starred in some TV movies, Where Are the Children? (1986) and Miles to Go... (1986), and starred in the film Shy People (1987).[14]

There were more TV movies: Who Gets the Friends? (1988), Fear Stalk (1989), Unspeakable Acts (1990), and Reason for Living: The Jill Ireland Story (1991).[15]

She was in Ben Gazzara's Beyond the Ocean (1990), and the unreleased Pretty Hattie's Baby (1991).

Supporting Actor[]

Gradually Clayburgh shifted into being more of a supporting player: Trial: The Price of Passion (1992), Whispers in the Dark (1992), Rich in Love (1992), Le Grand Pardon II (1992), Lincoln (1992), Firestorm: 72 Hours in Oakland (1993), Naked in New York (1993), Honor Thy Father and Mother: The True Story of the Menendez Murders (1993), For the Love of Nancy (1994), and The Face on the Milk Carton (1995).

Clayburgh could also be seen in Going All the Way (1997), Fools Rush In (1997), When Innocence Is Lost (1997), Sins of the Mind (1997), and Crowned and Dangerous (1997).

She guest starred on episodes of Law & Order and Frasier, and starred in a short lived sitcom, Everything's Relative (1999) and a short lived series Trinity (1999).[16]

Later Career[]

Clayburgh was in My Little Assassin (1999), and The Only Living Boy in New York (2000).

She had her first lead role in a long while in Never Again (2001).[17]

She was in Falling (2001) and had a semi recurring role on Ally McBeal as Ally's mother and on The Practice, and was a regular in another short lived show, Leap of Faith (2002).

She returned to off-Broadway for a role in The Exonerated (2002-04).

She appeared in Phenomenon II (2003) and received an Emmy nomination for guest appearances in the series Nip/Tuck in 2005.

In 2005 she returned to Broadway in A Naked Girl on the Appian Way which ran for 69 performances. More successful was The Busy World is Hushed (2005-06) on off Broadway.[18]

In 2006, she appeared on Broadway in Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park with Patrick Wilson and Amanda Peet; she played Peet's mother, a role originated by Mildred Natwick. It ran for 109 performances.[19]

She returned to the screen as a therapist's eccentric wife in the all-star ensemble dramedy Running With Scissors, an autobiographical tale of teenage angst and dysfunction based on the book by Augusten Burroughs.

She did one last play, The Clean House (2006-07).

During 2007, Clayburgh appeared in the ABC television series Dirty Sexy Money, playing Letitia Darling.[20]

Her last performances were in Love & Other Drugs (2010) and Bridesmaids (2011).


Clayburgh had chronic lymphocytic leukemia for more than 20 years and dealt with it privately before dying from the disease at her home in Lakeville, Connecticut, on November 5, 2010.[21] The movie Love & Other Drugs was dedicated to her memory.[citation needed] The 2011 film Bridesmaids was Clayburgh's final film appearance.

In 2012, friend and fellow actor Frank Langella wrote about their friendship (which spanned more than forty years) in a chapter of his book Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them. Her close friend and playwright Richard Greenberg wrote about her last days in a chapter of his book Rules for Others to Live By: Comments and Self-Contradictions, released in 2016.

Personal life[]

Clayburgh married screenwriter and playwright David Rabe in 1979. They had one son, Michael Rabe, and one daughter, actress Lily Rabe. Prior to this, she had dated actor Al Pacino for five years (and briefly appeared with him in a November 1968 N.Y.P.D. episode, "Deadly Circle of Violence").


Year Film Role Notes
1968 N.Y.P.D. Woman in park Episode: "Deadly Circle of Violence"
1969 Search for Tomorrow Grace Bolton Portrayed biological mother of child fathered by Len Whiting, adopted by him and his wife Patti
1969 The Wedding Party Josephine
1971 The Telephone Book Bit Part (uncred)[22]
1972 Portnoy's Complaint Naomi
1972 The Snoop Sisters Mary Nero Episode: "The Female Instinct"
1973 The Thief Who Came to Dinner Jackie
1974 The Terminal Man Angela Black
1974 Medical Center Beverly Episode: "Choice of Evils"
1974 Maude Adele Episode: "Walter's Heart Attack"
1974 The Rockford Files Marilyn Polonski Episode: "The Big Ripoff"
1975 Hustling Wanda Television movie
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1976 Gable and Lombard Carole Lombard
1976 Griffin and Phoenix Sarah Phoenix Television movie
1976 Silver Streak Hilly Burns
1977 Semi-Tough Barbara Jane Bookman
1978 An Unmarried Woman Erica Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1979 La Luna Caterina Silveri Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1979 Starting Over Marilyn Holmberg Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — American Movie Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1980 It's My Turn Kate Gunzinger
1981 First Monday in October Ruth Loomis Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1982 I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can Barbara Gordon
1983 Hanna K. Hanna Kaufman
1986 Miles To Go Moira Browning Television movie
1986 Where Are the Children? Nancy Holder Eldridge
1987 Shy People Diana Sullivan
1989 Fear Stalk Alexandra Maynard Television movie
1990 Oltre l'oceano Ellen a.k.a. Beyond the Ocean (USA)
1991 Pretty Hattie's Baby Unknown
1991 Reason For Living: The Jill Ireland Story Jill Ireland Television movie
1992 Whispers in the Dark Sarah Green
1992 Le grand pardon II Sally White a.k.a. Day of Atonement
1993 Naked in New York Shirley, Jake's mother
1993 Rich in Love Helen Odom
1994 For the Love of Nancy Sally Walsh Television movie
1995 The Face on the Milk Carton Miranda Jessmon Television movie
1997 Going All the Way Alma Burns
1997 When Innocence Is Lost Susan French
1997 Fools Rush In Nan Whitman
1998 Law & Order Sheila Atkins Episode: "Divorce"
1998 Frasier Marie Episode: "The Perfect Guy"
1998 Trinity Eileen McCallister 3 episodes
1999 Everything's Relative Mickey Gorelick 4 episodes
1999–2001 Ally McBeal Jeannie McBeal 4 episodes
2001 Never Again Grace
2001 Vallen Ruth a.k.a. Falling
2002 Leap of Faith Cricket Wardwell 6 episodes
2004 The Practice Victoria Stewart 3 episodes
2004 Nip/Tuck Bobbi Broderick 2 episodes
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
2006 Running with Scissors Agnes Finch
2007–2009 Dirty Sexy Money Letitia Darling 23 episodes
2010 Love & Other Drugs Mrs. Randall Posthumous release
2011 Bridesmaids Judy Walker Posthumous release
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Acting Ensemble
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Nominated — Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated — Central Ohio Film Critics Association for Best Ensemble


  1. ^ https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JPWD-XX3 accessed 8/19/14
  2. ^ "PAW|Albert H. Clayburgh '31". Webscript.princeton.edu. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
  3. ^ "Jill Clayburgh Film Reference biography". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
  4. ^ Jill Clayburgh Biography at Yahoo! Movies
  5. ^ "ALMA CLAYBURGH, SOPRANO, 76, DEAD; Concert Singer Was Patroni I of Cultural Activities-Aided Youn Musicians". New York Times. 1958-08-06. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
  6. ^ a b "The Plame game, Jill Clayburgh: a Jew?, Gyllenhaal and Lambert |". j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California. Archived from the original on 2014-04-14. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
  7. ^ a b H.W. Wilson Company (1979). Current Biography. University of Michigan: H. W. Wilson Co. p. 76.
  8. ^ White, James Terry (1967). The National cyclopaedia of American biography: being the history of the United States as illustrated in the lives of the founders, builders, and defenders of the republic, and of the men and women who are doing the work and moulding the thought of the present time. University Microfilms. p. 229.
  9. ^ a b Jill Clayburgh Recasts Her Image: Jill Clayburgh By ANDREA STROUT. New York Times 30 Sep 1979: D17.
  10. ^ "Jill Clayburgh Emmy Award Nomination". Emmys.com. 2010-11-05. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
  11. ^ Movies: Clayburgh: Box-office appeal for both men and women Jill Clayburgh: After 'Hustling,' box-office appeal began to build Jill Clayburgh Siskel, Gene. Chicago Tribune 2 Dec 1979: d2.
  12. ^ a b JILL CLAYBURGH-ACTING ON THE EDGE Collins, Glenn. New York Times 7 Mar 1982: A.1.
  15. ^ Jill Clayburgh: The Passion of Mothers: Truths Abound for the Actress Who Plays Jill Ireland in TV Movie NANCY MILLS SPECIAL TO THE TIMES. Los Angeles Times 18 May 1991: F12.
  16. ^ FAMILY MATTERS FOR JILL CLAYBURGH: By JOANNE WEINTRAUB, Scripps Howard News Service. 13 Apr 1999: y03.
  17. ^ Her Family Grown, Jill Clayburgh Is Starting Over Conant, Jennet. New York Times 7 July 2002: 2.9.
  18. ^ A Dysfunctional Family In Search of a Sitcom: [Review] Brantley, Ben. New York Times7 Oct 2005: E.1.
  19. ^ Starting Over, Again: A Broadway Comeback And a Manhattan Share Hass, Nancy. New York Times 28 Aug 2005: 2.6.
  20. ^ 60 SECONDS WITH . . .; Jill Clayburgh: [HOME EDITION] Los Angeles Times 27 Sep 2007: E.9.
  21. ^ Fox, Margalit (November 5, 2010). "Jill Clayburgh Dies at 66; Starred in Feminist Roles". The New York Times.
  22. ^ IMDB has no mention of her name in this film.

External links[]