Shirley MacLaine, 85, isn’t retiring, wants ‘to be a spokesperson for older women’

The last time I saw Shirley MacLaine perform, it was on Downton Abbey. She played Martha Levinson, mother of Cora, Countess of Grantham. She was the perfect foil for the Dowager Countess, played by Maggie Smith. I loved watching the two actresses volley back and forth. I just checked Wikipedia; at the moment Shirley is not listed as being in the movie (which doesn’t surprise me), but it would be great if Martha popped up again. No matter, though, as Shirley has told People that she doesn’t intend to stop acting, so she’ll appear in something else soon enough:

Shirley MacLaine might be working less than she used to in her heyday, but the actress, 85, tells PEOPLE in the latest issue that she has no intentions of ever retiring.

“I don’t want to quit acting — I really don’t,” she says. “Even at my age, I have four pictures to do next year. I think [some] costars are surprised I’m still walking upright.”

The Oscar winner, whose classic Steel Magnolias, turns 30 this year, says working keeps her “bright.”

“I learn so much about what I don’t really know every time I’m on a movie,” she says.

She continues, “I look back at the wonderful parts I’ve had the honor to play, and I’m thinking about the future, and I want to be a spokesperson for older-women — probably because I’m one.”

Since breaking onto the scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 black comedy The Trouble with Harry, MacLaine hasn’t let up. She’s acted in more than 50 films over the course of her legendary career in Hollywood, resulting in an Academy Award win for 1983’s Terms of Endearment, six Oscar nominations, and a Kennedy Center Honor. MacLaine, who’s sister to Warren Beatty, has also written 10 bestselling books, including the 2016 memoir Above the Line, in which she detailed her belief in reincarnation. And she had a daughter, Sachi, 62, from her 28-year marriage to producer Steve Parker.

[From People]

Guarding Tess, in which Shirley plays Tess Carlisle, a former first lady, who gives her Secret Service detail a run for its money, is a movie that I’ve always loved. I’m thankful that Shirley has no plans to retire (though, of course, I think that if she changes her mind tomorrow, she’s more than deserving of a relaxing retirement). I also really appreciate that she talks about continuing to do movies in part because they help her stay “bright,” and that she keeps learning from each experience. Her curiosity is a great message that it’s possible to always learn something from/about your work, even if you’ve been in the same field for several decades.

I also think it’s fantastic that she wants to be a spokesperson for older women, who are still being overlooked, both inside and outside of Hollywood. Her comment reminds me a bit of some of the things that Emma Thompson has said lately about speaking up for women’s rights and attempting to make her film sets more supportive and safe for women. That is, I’m so grateful, especially in the current climate, that powerful actresses are centering women in their comments about the industry and outside of it. I’d love to see Emma and Shirley team up in a movie about two best friends on a road trip. Maybe they could go visit Maggie Smith and Julie Walters (two other actresses whom I also adore). I also want to read all of Shirley’s books: I didn’t realize that she’d written so many!




photos credit: and WENN

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14 Responses to “Shirley MacLaine, 85, isn’t retiring, wants ‘to be a spokesperson for older women’”

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  1. elimaeby says:

    My mother’s favorite movies were Terms of Endearment and Steel Magnolias. I have so many fond memories of Shirley from growing up. We also share a birthday! I hope to be half as active as her in my eighties, good lord!

  2. Sassbr says:

    In one of her books, she writes that the Holocaust was possibly karmic retribution for the Jewish people.

    So maybe don’t read all her books. She’s a little problematic.

    Also, she was an abusive mother.

    • Jerusha says:

      Yeah, Sachi wrote a Mommy Dearest type book about their relationship.

      This is how I always picture them. Never know what’s going on under the surface, though.

      • Sassbr says:

        She was clearly like an accessory to her mother until she stopped being a cute baby that could go on a magazine cover.

    • elimaeby says:

      Hmmm, that would explain my mother loving her so much (my mom was anti-semitic and abusive herself). I do still have fond memories of watching her movies on movie nights, so I’m bummed to hear this.

    • Aims says:

      That’s true. I was so disappointed when her daughter talked about their relationship. She was described as selfish and possibly narcissistic. She hadn’t even met her grandkids and they were teenagers. So that was a bummer, because I really enjoyed her work. Her daughter said she flew from Los Angeles to Tokyo by herself at the age of two, which was terrifying and equally maddening too me.

      • Some chick says:

        BITD, you could send a kid on an airplane and one of the cabin crew would be assigned to make sure any transfers happened – there was a special lounge in the airport to wait in – and the same crew person would hang out in the lounge, and then walk the kid to the next gate. I can’t remember if a new stewardess (as they were then known) would take over for the next flight, but at the end, kiddo is walked to the arrivals area and taken care of until they’re met. And they would know who was supposed to pick the kid up.

        You also got a cool “captain’s wings” plastic pin, a special kid lunch, crayons etc. I even used to have a Pan Am sticky playset. It was the best!

        Two does seem a bit young, tho. I did it at about 5. Flying is the WORST now! I’d rather take the bus.

    • Mia4s says:

      Yeah Shirley is amazingly talented and interesting, but apparently not a very nice person. Her daughter’s story is so sad (considering her father sounds awful). The part that got me was when neither parent bothered to pick her up from boarding school for Christmas. She wasn’t able to reach either one and spent the holiday with staff. How does that work on karma Shirley?

  3. BeanieBean says:

    Wonderful actress, not so great person. Skip her books.

  4. Fluffy Princess says:

    Well if Betty White can keep doing her thing while staring at the big 100, why not Shirley Maclaine?

    Sad to hear about what a crap mother she was. She seems like the type of “ar-teest” whose whims and desires were always to be accommodated first, and everything and everyone else was just an afterthought, or not thought of at all. . .

    • Adrianna says:

      Sachi missed her absentee mother so terribly, who tired of her after two hours, a mother who shipped her off to Japan to be with her absent and abusive father. It was really sad to see how sad Sachi’s upbringing was.

  5. JoJo says:

    They could still be BFFs, but Emma Thompson is a lot younger than Shirley. She’s only 60. Maybe its a mother-daughter road trip.

  6. Lala11_7 says:

    I remember reading Christina Crawford’s seminal heartbreaking book as a child…and after that I read Marlena Dietrich’s daughter’s book….in fact, now that I think about it…I’ve read QUITE A FEW bios from children of entertainment icons…

    WHEW…a WHOLE LOT OF FOLKS…just shouldn’t have had children…PERIOD!