Henry Warren Beaty
March 30, 1937
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
|Alma mater||Northwestern University|
|Known for||As director:|
Henry Warren Beatty[a] (né Beaty; born March 30, 1937) is an American actor and filmmaker. His career spans over six decades and he has been nominated for 15 Academy Awards, including four for Best Actor, four for Best Picture, two for Best Director, three for Original Screenplay, and one for Adapted Screenplay – winning Best Director for Reds (1981). Beatty is the only person to have been nominated for acting in, directing, writing, and producing the same film, and he did so twice: first for Heaven Can Wait (with Buck Henry as co-director), and again for Reds.[b]
Eight of the films he produced earned 53 Academy nominations. In 1999, he was awarded the Academy's highest honor, the Irving G. Thalberg Award. Beatty was nominated for 18 Golden Globe Awards, winning six, including the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2007. Among his Golden Globe nominated films are, his screen debut, Splendor in the Grass (1961), Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Shampoo (1975), Heaven Can Wait (1978), Reds (1981), Dick Tracy (1990), Bugsy (1991), Bulworth (1998), and Rules Don't Apply (2016), all of which he also produced. Director and collaborator Arthur Penn described Beatty as "the perfect producer", adding, "He makes everyone demand the best of themselves. Warren stays with a picture through editing, mixing, and scoring. He plain works harder than anyone else I have ever seen."
Henry Warren Beaty was born March 30, 1937, in Richmond, Virginia. His mother, Kathlyn Corinne (née MacLean), was a teacher from Nova Scotia. His father, Ira Owens Beaty, studied for a PhD in educational psychology and was a teacher and school administrator, in addition to working in real estate. His grandparents were also teachers. The family was Baptist. During Warren's childhood, Ira Beaty moved his family from Richmond to Norfolk and then to Arlington and Waverly, then back to Arlington, eventually taking a position at Arlington's Thomas Jefferson Junior High School in 1945. During the 1950s, the family resided in the Dominion Hills section of Arlington. Beatty's older sister is the actress, dancer and writer Shirley MacLaine. His uncle by marriage was Canadian politician A. A. MacLeod.
Beatty became interested in movies as a child, often accompanying his sister to theaters. One film that had an important early influence on him was The Philadelphia Story (1940), which he saw when it was re-released in the 1950s. He noticed a strong resemblance between its star, Katharine Hepburn, and his mother, in both appearance and personality, saying that they symbolized "perpetual integrity". Another film that influenced him was Love Affair (1939), starring one of his favorite actors, Charles Boyer. He found it "deeply moving," and recalled that "[t]his is a movie I always wanted to make." He remade Love Affair in 1994, starring alongside Annette Bening and Katharine Hepburn.
Among his favorite TV shows in the 1950s was the Texaco Star Theatre, and he began to mimic one of its regular host comedians, Milton Berle. Beatty learned to do a "superb imitation of Berle and his routine", said a friend, and often used Berle-type humor at home. His sister's memories of her brother include seeing him reading books by Eugene O'Neill or singing along to Al Jolson records. In Rules Don't Apply (2016), Beatty plays Howard Hughes, who is shown talking about and singing Jolson songs while flying his plane.
MacLaine noted — on what made her brother want to become a filmmaker, sometimes writing, producing, directing and starring in his films: "That's why he's more comfortable behind the camera ... He's in the total-control aspect. He has to have control over everything." Beatty doesn't deny that need; in speaking about his earliest parts, he said "When I acted in films I used to come with suggestions about the script, the lighting, the wardrobe, and people used to say 'Waddya want, to produce the picture as well?' And I used to say that I supposed I did."
Beatty was a star football player at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington. Encouraged to act by the success of his sister, who established herself as a Hollywood star, he decided to work as a stagehand at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. during the summer before his senior year. After graduation, he was reportedly offered ten college football scholarships, but turned them down to study liberal arts at Northwestern University (1954–55), where he joined the Sigma Chi fraternity. Beatty left college after his first year and moved to New York City to study acting under Stella Adler at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting. He often subsisted on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and worked odd jobs, including dishwasher, piano player, bricklayer's assistant, construction worker, and, relatively briefly, a sandhog.
Beatty started his career making appearances on television shows such as Studio One (1957), Kraft Television Theatre (1957), and Playhouse 90 (1959). He was a semi-regular on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis during its first season (1959–60). His performance in William Inge's A Loss of Roses on Broadway garnered him a 1960 Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play and a 1960 Theatre World Award. It was his sole appearance on Broadway.
Beatty made his film debut in Elia Kazan's Splendor in the Grass (1961), opposite Natalie Wood. The film was a critical and box office success and Beatty was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, and received the award for New Star of the Year – Actor. The film was also nominated for two Oscars, winning one.
Author Peter Biskind points out that Kazan "was the first in a string of major directors Beatty sought out, mentors or father figures from whom he wanted to learn." Beatty, years later during a Kennedy Center tribute to Kazan, told the audience that Kazan "had given him the most important break in his career." Biskind adds that they "were wildly dissimilar—mentor vs. protegé, director vs. actor, immigrant outsider vs. native son. Kazan was armed with the confidence born of age and success, while Beatty was virtually aflame with the arrogance of youth." Kazan recalls his impressions of Beatty:
Warren—it was obvious the first time I saw him—wanted it all and wanted it his way. Why not? He had the energy, a very keen intelligence, and more chutzpah than any Jew I've ever known. Even more than me. Bright as they come, intrepid, and with that thing all women secretly respect: complete confidence in his sexual powers, confidence so great that he never had to advertise himself, even by hints.
Mr. Beatty's career has had all the hallmarks of the conventional Hollywood golden boy. Ingratiating good looks, disarming youthfulness, a delight in the social life and no apparently strong feelings about his craft. This image has now been strikingly shattered with his emergence as a vividly individual actor and as a highly imaginative producer in the gangster ballad, Bonnie and Clyde ... At 28 [sic], the image of Warren Beatty, fun-loving playboy, is dead. Warren Beatty, a man of the cinema, is born.
—Gerald Garrett, syndicated movie columnist 
Beatty followed his initial film with Tennessee Williams' The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961), with Vivien Leigh and Lotte Lenya, directed by Jose Quintero; All Fall Down (1962), with Angela Lansbury, Karl Malden and Eva Marie Saint, directed by John Frankenheimer; Lilith (1963), with Jean Seberg and Peter Fonda, directed by Robert Rossen; Promise Her Anything (1964), with Leslie Caron, Bob Cummings and Keenan Wynn, directed by Arthur Hiller; Mickey One (1965), with Alexandra Stewart and Hurd Hatfield, directed by Arthur Penn; and Kaleidoscope (1966), with Susannah York and Clive Revill, directed by Jack Smight. In 1965, he formed a production company, Tatira, which he named for Kathlyn (whose nickname was "Tat") and Ira.
At age 29, Beatty produced and acted in Bonnie and Clyde, released in 1967. He assembled a team that included the writers Robert Benton and David Newman, and the director, Arthur Penn. Beatty selected most of the cast, including Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Gene Wilder and Michael J. Pollard. Beatty also oversaw the script and spearheaded the delivery of the film.
Beatty chose Gene Hackman because he had acted with him in Lilith in 1964 and felt he was a "great" actor. Upon completion of the film, he credited Hackman with giving the "most authentic performance in the movie, so textured and so moving", recalls Dunaway. Beatty was so impressed with Gene Wilder after seeing him in a play and did not ask him to audition for what became Wilder's screen debut. And Beatty had already known Pollard: "Michael J. Pollard was one of my oldest friends", Beatty said. "I'd known him forever; I met him the day I got my first television show. We did a play together on Broadway."
Bonnie and Clyde became a critical and commercial success, despite the early misgivings by studio head Jack Warner, who put up the production money. Before filming began, Warner said, "What does Warren Beatty think he's doing? How did he ever get us into this thing? This gangster stuff went out with Cagney." The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor, and seven Golden Globe Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor. Beatty was originally entitled to 40% of the film's profits but gave 10% to Penn and his 30% share earned him more than US$6 million.
After Bonnie and Clyde, Beatty acted with Elizabeth Taylor in The Only Game in Town (1970), directed by George Stevens; McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), directed by Robert Altman; and Dollars (1971), directed by Richard Brooks.
In 1972, Beatty produced a series of benefit concerts to help with publicity and fundraising in the George McGovern 1972 presidential campaign. Beatty first put together Four for McGovern at The Forum in the Los Angeles area, convincing Barbra Streisand, Carole King and James Taylor to perform. Streisand brought Quincy Jones and his Orchestra, and recorded the album Live Concert at the Forum. Two weeks later, Beatty mounted another concert at the Cleveland Arena, in which Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon joined James Taylor.
In June 1972, Beatty produced Together for McGovern at Madison Square Garden, reuniting Simon and Garfunkel, Nichols and May, and Peter, Paul and Mary, and featuring Dionne Warwick. With these productions, campaign manager Gary Hart said that Beatty had "invented the political concert". He had mobilized Hollywood celebrities for a political cause on a scale previously unseen, creating a new power dynamic.
Beatty appeared in the films The Parallax View (1974), directed by Alan Pakula; and The Fortune (1975), directed by Mike Nichols. Taking greater control, Beatty produced, co-wrote and acted in Shampoo (1975), directed by Hal Ashby, which was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay, as well as five Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture and Best Actor. In 1978, Beatty directed, produced, wrote and acted in Heaven Can Wait (1978) (sharing co-directing credit with Buck Henry). The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Adapted Screenplay. It also won three Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture and Best Actor.
A film [Reds] of this scope and size demands incredible work from the director, and when you consider that Beatty also served as producer, writer and star, it's hard to believe so much work could come from one man. As a film, it's a marvelous view of America in the 1912-19 era, and Beatty brought some superior performances from a large cast.
—Joe Pollack, syndicated columnnist
Beatty's next film was Reds (1981), a historical epic about American Communist journalist John Reed who observed the Russian October Revolution – a project Beatty had begun researching and filming for as far back as 1970. It was a critical and commercial success, despite being an American film about an American Communist, made and released at the height of the Cold War. It received 12 Academy Award nominations – including four for Beatty (for Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Original Screenplay), winning three. Beatty won for Best Director, Maureen Stapleton won for Best Supporting Actress (playing anarchist Emma Goldman), and Vittorio Storaro won for Best Cinematography. The film received seven Golden Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture, Director, Actor and Screenplay. Beatty won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director.
Following Reds, Beatty did not appear in a film for five years until 1987's Ishtar, written and directed by Elaine May. Following severe criticism in press reviews by the new British studio chief David Puttnam just prior to its release, the film received mixed reviews and was unimpressive commercially. Puttnam attacked several other over-budget U.S. films greenlighted by his predecessor and was fired shortly thereafter.
Under his second production company, Mulholland Productions, Beatty produced, directed and played the title role of comic strip-based detective Dick Tracy in the 1990 film of the same name. The film received positive reviews and was one of the highest-grossing films of the year. It received seven Academy Award nominations, winning three for Best Art Direction, Best Makeup, and Best Original Song. It also received four Golden Globe Award nominations, including Best Motion Picture.
In 1991, he produced and starred as the real-life gangster Bugsy Siegel in the critically acclaimed and commercially successful film Bugsy, directed by Barry Levinson, which was nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor; it later won two of the awards for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. The film also received eight Golden Globe Award nominations, including Best Motion Picture and Best Actor, winning for Best Motion Picture. Beatty's next film, Love Affair (1994), directed by Glenn Gordon Caron, received mixed reviews and was a commercial failure.
In 1998, he wrote, produced, directed and starred in the political satire Bulworth, which was critically acclaimed and nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The film also received three Golden Globe Award nominations, for Best Motion Picture, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay. Beatty has appeared briefly in numerous documentaries, including Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991) and One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern (2005).
Following the poor box office performance of Town & Country (2001), in which Beatty starred, he did not appear in or direct another film for 15 years.
In May 2005, Beatty sued Tribune Media, claiming he still maintained the rights to Dick Tracy. On March 25, 2011, U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson ruled in Beatty's favor.
Who else is better equipped to understand the symbiosis between show business and politics and to assert that when a certain degree of wealth and power have been achieved, the ordinary rules of human behavior can be flouted?... Fools and idiots abound, but demonic, systemic evil does not. Mr. Beatty obviously loves Hollywood, which has been good to him.
—Stephen Holden, The New York Times
In 2010, Beatty directed and reprised his role as Dick Tracy in the 30-minute television special Dick Tracy Special, which premiered on TCM. The metafictional special features an interview with Tracy and film critic and historian Leonard Maltin, the latter of whom discusses the history and creation of Tracy. Tracy talks about how he admired Ralph Byrd and Morgan Conway who portrayed him in several films, but says he didn't care much for Beatty's portrayal of him or his film. The production of the special allowed Beatty to retain the rights to the character. At CinemaCon In April 2016, Beatty reiterated that he intends to make a Dick Tracy sequel. In 2023, Beatty reprised the role of Tracy and played the character opposite himself in Dick Tracy Special: Tracy Zooms In, a follow up to the Dick Tracy Special that also aired on TCM. The 30-minute special, which mostly consists of a Zoom interview with Ben Mankiewicz and a returning Maltin in which Tracy criticizes aspects of the 1990 film adaptation to Beatty's face and suggests that a younger actor should take over the role of Tracy, concludes with Beatty and Tracy meeting in person and suggesting that Dick Tracy will return in future.
In 2016, Beatty released Rules Don't Apply, a fictionalized true-life romantic comedy about Howard Hughes, set in 1958 Hollywood and Las Vegas. It stars Beatty, who wrote, co-produced and directed the film. It co-stars Alden Ehrenreich and Lily Collins, with supporting actors including Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, Matthew Broderick, Candice Bergen, Ed Harris and Martin Sheen. Some have said that Beatty's film was 40 years in the making.
In the mid-1970s, Beatty signed a contract with Warner Bros. to star in, produce, write, and possibly direct a film about Howard Hughes. The project was put on hold when Beatty began Heaven Can Wait. Initially, Beatty planned to film the life story of John Reed and Hughes back-to-back, but as he was getting deeper into the project, he eventually focused primarily on the Reed film Reds. In June 2011, it was reported that Beatty would produce, write, direct and star in a film about Hughes, focusing on an affair he had with a younger woman in the final years of his life.
During this period, Beatty interviewed actors to star in his ensemble cast. He met with Andrew Garfield, Alec Baldwin, Owen Wilson, Justin Timberlake, Shia LaBeouf, Jack Nicholson, Evan Rachel Wood, Rooney Mara, and Felicity Jones. It was released on November 23, 2016, and was Beatty's first film in 15 years.[c] Rotten Tomatoes' "Top Critics" gave the film a 55% "Rotten" rating. The film was also a commercial disappointment.
In 2017, Beatty reunited with his Bonnie and Clyde co-star Faye Dunaway at the 89th Academy Awards, in celebration of the film's 50th anniversary. After being introduced by Jimmy Kimmel, they walked out onto the stage to present the Best Picture Award. They had been given the wrong envelope, leading Dunaway to incorrectly announce La La Land as Best Picture, instead of the actual winner, Moonlight. This became a social media sensation, trending all over the world. In 2018, Beatty and Dunaway returned to present Best Picture at the 90th Academy Awards, earning a standing ovation upon their entrance, making jokes about the previous year's flub. Without incident, Beatty announced The Shape of Water as the winner.
Beatty has been married to actress Annette Bening since 1992. They have four children. Their eldest child came out as transgender (FTM) in 2012.
Prior to marrying Bening, Beatty was notorious for his large number of romantic relationships that received generous media coverage, having been linked to over 100 female celebrities. Cher stated that "Warren has probably been with everybody I know." Leslie Caron dated him but thought he was too self-centered, and she rejected his marriage proposals.
Beatty is a longtime supporter of the Democratic Party. In 1972, Beatty was part of the "inner circle" of Senator George McGovern's presidential campaign. He traveled extensively and was instrumental in organizing fundraising. Despite differences in politics, Beatty was also a friend of Republican Senator John McCain, with whom he agreed on the need for campaign finance reform. He was one of the pallbearers chosen by McCain himself at the senator's funeral in 2018.
On November 9, 2022, Kristina Charlotte Hirsch filed a lawsuit claiming that Beatty had groomed and manipulated her into having sex with him in 1973 when she was 14 and he was about 35. The lawsuit did not identify Beatty by name but described Hirsch's alleged abuser as having "acted in television and several Hollywood films, including portraying Clyde in Bonnie and Clyde, a major box-office success that earned DEFENDANT DOE an Academy Award for Best Actor"—all of which described Beatty.
Hirsch's attorneys filed the motion in Los Angeles County Superior Court under a California law that allows people to temporarily override the statute of limitations and sue in cases involving underage sexual abuse, even if the abuse took place years or even decades earlier.
|1967||Bonnie and Clyde||No||Yes||No|
|1978||Heaven Can Wait||Yes[d]||Yes||Yes|
|2016||Rules Don't Apply||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1961||Splendor in the Grass||Bud Stamper|
|The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone||Paolo di Leo|
|1962||All Fall Down||Berry-Berry Willart|
|1965||Mickey One||Mickey One|
|Promise Her Anything||Harley Rummell|
|1967||Bonnie and Clyde||Clyde Barrow|
|1970||The Only Game in Town||Joe Grady|
|1971||McCabe & Mrs. Miller||John McCabe|
|1974||The Parallax View||Joseph Frady|
|The Fortune||Nicky Wilson|
|1978||Heaven Can Wait||Joe Pendleton|
|1990||Dick Tracy||Dick Tracy|
|1994||Love Affair||Mike Gambril|
|1998||Bulworth||Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth|
|2001||Town & Country||Porter Stoddard|
|2016||Rules Don't Apply||Howard Hughes|
|1957||Kraft Television Theater||Roy Nicholas||Episode: "The Curly Headed Kid"|
|Westinghouse Studio One||1st Card Player||Episode: "The Night America Trembled"|
|1959||Look Up and Live||Boy||Episode: "The Square"|
|Episode: "The Family"|
|Playhouse 90||Episode: "Dark December"|
|The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis||Milton Armitage||Episode: "The Best Dressed Man"|
|Episode: "The Sweet Singer of Central High"|
|Episode: "Dobie Gillis, Boy Actor"|
|1960||Episode: "The Smoke-Filled Room"|
|Episode: "The Fist Fighter"|
|Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond||Harry Grayson||Episode: "The Visitor"|
|2010||Dick Tracy Special||Dick Tracy||Television special; also co-director and co-writer with Chris Merill|
|2023||Dick Tracy Special: Tracy Zooms In||Dick Tracy / Himself||Television special; also co-director and co-writer with Chris Merill|
|1959||A Loss of Roses||Kenny||Eugene O'Neill Theatre, Broadway|||
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Warren Beatty
|Year||Title||Academy Awards||BAFTA Awards||Golden Globe Awards|
|1978||Heaven Can Wait||9||1||3||3|
|2016||Rules Don't Apply||1|
Beatty has received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award from the Americans for Democratic Action, the Brennan Legacy Award from the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, the Phillip Burton Public Service Award from the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, and the Spirit of Hollywood Award from the Associates for Breast and Prostate Cancer Studies.
Beatty was a founding board member of the Center for National Policy, a founding member of the Progressive Majority, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, has served as the Campaign Chair for the Permanent Charities Committee, and has participated in the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. He served on the Board of Trustees at the Scripps Research Institute, and the Board of Directors of the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation. He was named Honorary Chairman of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in 2004.
The National Association of Theatre Owners awarded him with the Star of the Year Award in 1975, and in 1978 the Director of the Year Award and the Producer of the Year Award. He received the Alan J. Pakula Memorial Award from the National Board of Review in 1998. He received the Akira Kurosawa Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002 from the San Francisco International Film Festival. He has received the Board of Governors Award from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Distinguished Director Award from the Costume Designers Guild, the Life Achievement Award from the Publicists Guild, and the Outstanding Contribution to Cinematic Imagery Award from the Art Directors Guild.
In 2004, he received the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C., and the Milestone Award from the Producers Guild of America. He was honored with the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award in 2008. In March 2013, he was inducted into the California Hall of Fame. In 2016, he was honored by the Museum of the Moving Image  and received the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
Beatty has received a number of international awards: in 1992, he was made a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (France); in 1998, he was nominated for a Golden Lion for Best Film (Bulworth), and received a Career Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival; in 2001, he received the Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Sebastián International Film Festival; in 2002, he received the British Academy Fellowship from BAFTA; and in 2011, he was awarded the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award.
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