Let's Hear It For Shirley MacLaine!

  • The singing, dancing, acting dynamo turned 78 this week, and she’s as pixie-ish as ever. Over the years, she’s made her mark in movies from “Sweet Charity” and “ Irma La Douce” to “Terms of Endearment” and “Steel Magnolias.” Her latest movie, “Henry,” opens this week, and she’s got some more projects beyond that. And most important of all, she’s got a big role in the upcoming season of “Downton Abbey.” We can’t wait! In the meantime, her are some things you might not know about her.

    Ankles Played A Big Part In Her Career

    When MacLaine was a child, she had weak ankles, so her mother enrolled her in ballet class. And when she was an understudy in Broadway’s “The Pajama Game,” the regular actress broke her ankle. MacLaine substituted, and producer Hal B. Wallis was in the audience. Presto: a movie contract.
  • She's Just Too Powerful For Some People Don Siegel, her director on “Two Mules for Sister Sara,” in which MacLaine starred opposite Clint Eastwood, once said, "It's hard to feel any great warmth to her... She's very, very hard." Something tells us he wouldn't be so critical of Clint.
  • She Believes We've Had Some Visitors Over the years, MacLaine has become well-known for her belief in past lives. But she’s also into another phenomenon: UFOs. In her 2007 book, “Sage-ing While Age-ing,” she said she had encounters with aliens and had seen UFOs in the 1950s.
  • She Wrote A Political Book When MacLaine and her brother, Warren Beatty, were organizing for George McGovern’s presidential campaign in 1972, she wrote a book, "McGovern: The Man and His Beliefs." (He still lost the election, though.)
  • She Enjoys Being On Her Own Or, as she once told an interviewer, “I think the hill one has to trudge in order to understand a man's baggage is more of a trek than I'd like to take right now.”
  • She Earns Money From Her Website MacLaine, who’s made a lot of cash from her bestselling books like “Out On A Limb,” also charges for access to her website (www.shirleymaclaine.com). For $9.99 a month, members get goodies, including a ShirleyGram (newsletter), a ShirleyCam (videos) and discounts on astrology readings. The good news is that there’s a senior discount ($5.49 per month.) What are you waiting for?
  • She Can Really Put Her Foot In Her Mouth After “American Bandstand” icon Dick Clark died earlier this month, prompting tributes from hundreds of celebrities, MacLaine offered a comment that stood out from all the rest: "Now I can walk past his house in Malibu and his dogs won't attack mine. That's one good thing." Watch out, Shirl. You might run into him in your next life.
  • She Gives Her All To Every Part In the new movie “Bernie,” co-starring Jack Black, MacLaine plays an aging battleaxe who provokes the mild-mannered Black into killing her (no spoilers here; you kind of know that from the trailer.) One admiring reviewer wrote, “It can’t be easy for the great Shirley MacLaine to find juicy roles..but she is both fearless and miraculous in her total concentration on playing a human dragon.”
  • Her Next Movie Is A Scary Road Trip “Wild Oats,” a comedy in which MacLaine plays an ordinary woman on her way to Las Vegas with a stolen $900,000 in her pocket, is going to be released by Dimension Movies. Who will win: Shirley or the police?
  • She Loves Maggie Smith MacLaine’s most newsworthy recent project is her appearance on the mega-popular British series “Downton Abbey.” Playing the mother of Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern), MacLaine will be an acerbic American confronting the English upper class about its alleged stodginess. In an interview with the British magazine “Lady,” MacLaine said, “I, as my character, go over and say, “why don’t you become a little bit more American and more comfortable with change?” Anyone who watches the series knows just how badly that will go over with the Dowager Countess Grantham (Maggie Smith). But MacLaine says that despite their on-screen clashes, she adores Smith, tweeting: “She’s so subtle and so much fun.” We hope Dame Maggie feels the same!