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Home > Actresses > Sigourney Weaver > Biography
Biography of Sigourney Weaver
Sigourney Weaver was born Susan Alexandra Weaver, on October 8, 1949, in Leroy Hospital in New York City. Her father, TV producer Sylvester L. Weaver Jr., originally wanted to name her Flavia, because of his passion for Roman history (he had already named her elder brother Trajan). Her mother, Elizabeth Inglis, was a British actress who had sacrificed her career for a family. Sigourney grew up in a virtual bubble of guiltless bliss, being taken care by nannies and maids. By 1959, the Weavers had resided in 30 different households. In 1961, Sigourney began attending the Brearly Girls Academy, but her mother moved her to another New York private school, Chapin. Sigourney was quite a bit taller than most of her other classmates (at the age of 13, she was already 5' 10"), resulting in her constantly being laughed at and picked on; in order to gain their acceptance, she took on the role of class clown.

In 1962, her family moved to San Francisco briefly, an unpleasant experience for her. Later, they moved back east to Connecticut, where she became a student at the Ethel Walker School, facing the same problems as before. In 1963, she changed her name to "Sigourney", after the character "Sigourney Howard" in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" (her own birth name, Susan, was in honor of her mother's best friend, explorer Susan Pretzlik). Sigourney had already starred in a school drama production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream", and, in 1965, she worked during the summer with a stock troupe, performing in "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "You Can't Take It With You" (she didn't star in the latter because she was taller than the lead actor!). After graduating from school in 1967, she spent some months in a kibbutz at Israel. At that time, she became engaged to reporter Aaron Latham, but they soon broke up.

In 1969, Sigourney enrolled in Stanford University, majoring in English Literature. She also participated in school plays, especially Japanese Noh plays. By that time she was living in a treehouse, alongside a male friend, dressed in elf-like clothes! After completing her studies in 1971, she applied for the Yale School of Drama in New York. Despite appearing at the audition reading a Bertolt Brecht speech and wearing a rope-like belt, she was accepted by the school but her professors rejected her, because of her height, and kept typecasting her as prostitutes and old women (whereas classmate Meryl Streep was treated almost reverently). However, in 1973, while making her theatrical debut with "Watergate Classics", she met up with a team of playwrights and actors and began hanging around with them., resulting in long-term friendships with Christopher Durang, Kate McGregor-Stewart and Albert Innaurato.

In 1974 she starred in such plays as Aristophanes' "Frogs" and Durang's "The Nature and Purpose of the Universe" and "Daryl and Carol and Kenny and Jenny", as Jenny. After finishing her studies that year, she began seriously pursuing a stage career, but her height kept being a hindrance. However, she continued working on stage with Durang (in "Titanic" [1975]) and Innaurato (in "Gemini" [1976]). Other 1970s stage works included "Marco Polo Sing a Song", "The Animal Kingdom", "A Flea in Her Ear", "The Constant Husband", "Conjuring an Event" and others. However, the one that really got her noticed was "Das Lusitania Songspiel", a play she co-wrote with Durang and in which she starred for two seasons, from 1979 to 1981. She was also up for a Drama Desk Award for it. During the mid-70s she appeared in several TV spots and even starred as Avis Ryan in the soap opera "Somerset" (1970).

In 1977 she was cast in the role Shelley Duvall finally played in Annie Hall (1977), after rejecting the part due to prior stage commitments. In the end, however, Woody Allen offered her a part in the film that, while short (she was onscreen for six seconds), made many people sit up and take notice. She later appeared in Madman (1978) and, of course, Alien (1979). The role of the tough, uncompromising Ripley made Sigourney an "overnight" star and brought her a British Award Nomination. She next appeared in Eyewitness (1981) and The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), the latter being a great success in Australia that won an Oscar and brought Sigourney and co-star Mel Gibson to Cannes in 1983. The same year she delivered an honorary Emmy award to her father, a few months before her uncle, actor Doodles Weaver, committed suicide. That year also brought her a romance with Jim Simpson, her first since having broken up two years previously with James M. McClure. She and Simpson were married on 1 October 1984. Sigourney had meanwhile played in the poorly received Deal of the Century (1983) and the mega-hit Ghost Busters (1984). She was also nominated for a Tony Award for her tour-de-force performance in the play "Hurly Burly". Then followed Une femme ou deux (1985), Half Moon Street (1986) and Aliens (1986). The latter was a huge success, and Sigourney was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Oscar.

She then entered her most productive career period and snatched Academy Award nominations, in both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories, for her intense portrayal of Dian Fossey in Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey (1988) and her delicious performance as a double-crossing, power-hungry corporate executive in Working Girl (1988). She ended up losing in both, but made up for it to a degree by winning both Golden Globes. After appearing in a documentary about fashion photographer Helmut Newton, Frames from the Edge (1989), and reprising her role in the sequel Ghostbusters II (1989), she discovered she was pregnant and retired from public life for a while. She gave birth to her daughter Charlotte on 13 April 1990, and returned to movies as a (now skinhead) Ripley in Alien³ (1992) and a gorgeous Queen Isabella of Spain in 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), her second film with director Ridley Scott. She starred in the political comedy Dave (1993) alongside Kevin Kline, and then a Roman Polanski thriller, Death and the Maiden (1994).

In 1995 she was seen in Jeffrey (1995) and Copycat (1995). The next year she "trod the boards" in "Sex and Longing", yet another Durang play. She hadn't performed in the theater in many years before that play, her last stage performances occurring in the 1980s in "As You Like It" (1981), "Beyond Therapy" (1981), "The Marriage of 'Bette and Boo'" (1985) and "The Merchant of Venice" (1986). In 1997 she was the protagonist in Grimm's Snow White: A Tale of Terror (1997), The Ice Storm (1997) and Alien: Resurrection (1997). Her performance in "The Ice Storm" got her a BAFTA prize and another Golden Globe nod. She also gave excellent performances in A Map of the World (1999) and the sci-fi spoof Galaxy Quest (1999). Her next comedy, Company Man (2000), wasn't quite so warmly welcomed critically and financially, however. She next played a sexy con artist in Heartbreakers (2001) and had a voice role in Big Bad Love (2001). Her father died at the age of 93. Sigourney herself has recently starred in Tadpole (2002) and is planning a cinematic version of The Guys (2002), the enthralling September 11th one-act drama she played on stage on late 2001. She remains a remarkable and enormously talented actress, and at the age of 52 is still one of the world's great beauties.
Quick Biography
Name  Sigourney Weaver
Height  5' 11½"
Nationality  American
Famous For  
Date of Birth  8 October 1949,
Place of Birth  New York, New York, USA
 

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