Warren Beatty is an award-winning actor and filmmaker famous for directing the 1981 blockbuster, Reds. He is also known for other notable films such as Bonnie and Clyde, and Heaven Can Wait. Warren Beatty’s career has made incredible records. For one, he remains the only person to have been nominated for acting in, directing, writing, and producing the same film. More so, he did it twice. First in Heaven Can Wait, and again with Reds. What’s more? Eight of the films Beatty produced have gotten 53 Academy nominations. He has been nominated for the Golden Globe Awards eighteen times and has won six.
Warren Beatty’s Background
Warren Beatty was born—Henry Warren Beatty— in Richmond, Virginia, on March 30, 1937, to Baptist parents, Ira Owens Beatty and Kathlyn Corinne. His father dealt in real estate worked as a teacher and school administrator and held a doctorate in educational psychology. Beatty comes from a background of educators. Though born in Richmond, he and his elder sister, Shirley (now famous actress, dancer and writer Shirley MacLaine) spent their childhood in several cities across the United States.This was due to their father’s job. First from Richmond to Norfolk and then to Arlington and Waverly, then back to Arlington. Their father finally settled for a position at Arlington’s Thomas Jefferson Junior High School back in 1945.
Beatty became fascinated by movies from an early age. This was likely within the period he and Shirley often visited the theatres. As he recounts, one film that upped his interest was The Philadelphia Story (1940). While other viewers only saw the star actress, Katharine Hepburn, Beatty couldn’t help but notice the striking semblance she had with his less famous mother, in both appearance and personality. Another movie that had so much influence in the lad was Love Affair(1939). The film starred one of Beatty’s favorite actors, Charles Boyer. In the coming decades, Warren Beatty would release a remake of Love Affair in 1994. And this time, he starred alongside Annette Bening and Katharine Hepburn, his mother’s doppelganger.
Growing up, Warren Beatty attended Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, where he excelled in football. However, his aptitude for sport didn’t do so much to influence his career ambitions. Rather, his sister’s success as a Hollywood star got the best of him. Inspired by Shirley’s success, he decided to work as a stagehand at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. before the start of his senior year. Following his graduation, Warren Beatty was offered ten different college football scholarships but turned them all down. He rather chose to study liberal arts at Northwestern University in 1954, he left the following year to New York City to go study acting at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, under Stella Adler.
What Is Warren Beatty Famous For?
Career-wise, Warren Beatty got his start in the 1950s with a few television roles. One of which was a recurring part on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. However, his Broadway debut came in 1959 in the drama A Loss of Roses. Although the gig wasn’t so much of a success per se, it already offered Beatty the right exposure he needed to launch his career. What followed were other roles and contracts. One of which became his first feature film Splendor in the Grass (1961). Beatty’s representation of an affluent but emotionally tormented teen qualified him for a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor that year.
He went on to appear in major roles in movies such as The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961), All Fall Down(1962), Lilith (1963), Promise Her Anything(1964), and Mickey One(1965). Another peak period for the Virginia-born actor was the release of the 1967 movie Bonnie and Clyde which he produced and starred in. The movie was such a critical and commercial success that it got nominated for ten Academy Awards.
Rolling into the 1970s, Warren Beatty became such a household name in Hollywood when he appeared in some well-received movies such as Shampoo (1975) and Heaven Can Wait (1978). He also produced and co-directed, Heaven Can Wait. Perhaps there was more to come for the actor.
In 1981, Warren Beatty executed what many called his most ambitious film project yet, when he co-wrote, produced, directed and starred in the historical epic movie, Reds. Reds is a true-to-life film about American Communist journalist John Reed who observed the Russian October Revolution. The movie became such an instant success and was nominated for several Academy Awards and even won Beatty award for Best Director.
With his newfound status, Warren Beatty became quite choosy about his roles and would not appear in any other films throughout the 1980s.
However, he co-produced and starred in the crime-drama film Bugsy (1991). His next major project would come in 1998, when he co-wrote, co-produced, directed, and starred in the political comedy Bulworth, in which he co-starred with the likes of Halle Berry, Oliver Platt, Don Cheadle, and Paul Sorvino. At the turn of the millennium, his first work was the 2001 film, Town & Country. The movie has been tagged one of those “major disasters” in Warren Beatty’s career.
He would remain low-key for the next few years before reappearing in Rules Don’t Apply (2016). Of all the Warren Beatty films, the ones he remains famous for are Bonnie and Clyde, where he portrayed Clyde Barrow, the comedy film, Heaven Can Wait, which he produced, starred in and co-directed and the drama film, Reds, which he co-wrote, produced and directed.
Has He Ever Won an Oscar?
In 1961, Warren Beatty starred in Elia Kazan’s first film, Splendor in the Grass (1961). Although his debut, the film became a box office success, earning Beatty a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. He also received the award for New Star of the Year – Actor. Eventually, Splendor in the Grass got nominated for two Oscars, winning one. Thanks to his mentor and teacher, Elia Kazan, the success of Splendor in the Grass became the launching pad for Beatty’s film career. In 1999, he received the Irving G. Thalberg Award; the Academy’s highest honor making it the only Oscar in his name.