Thursday, December 15, 2011

12/15 Gena Rowlands, John Cassavetes

Gena Rowlands is an American actress, recognized for roles as tough, boozy, or traumatized women, and for her long professional collaboration with her husband, art-house filmmaker John Cassavetes. They were married just two months after they met, and stayed together until his death in 1989.

Her father was vice-president of a local bank, a state assemblyman and later a state senator. Rowlands dropped out of college after a big argument with her parents (the subject remains unclear) and moved to New York, where she supported herself by working part-time at a movie theater. She studied drama at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and wrote dialogue for comic books during dry spells between low-paying acting gigs. She was first understudy in the Broadway production of The Seven Year Itch, and took over the lead role late in the play's run. Her first Hollywood hit was opposite Kirk Douglas and Walter Matthau in Lonely are the Brave, in 1962.

Rowlands starred in Cassavetes' films such as Faces, A Woman Under The Influence, and Love Streams. She also worked alongside Cassavetes as an actor in Two Minute Warning, and Paul Mazursky's version of The Tempest, with Molly Ringwald.

Sans husband, Rowlands later played Mom to Joan Jett and Michael J. Fox in Light of Day, and mothered one of TV's first AIDS deaths in the drama An Early Frost. She was the accidental eavesdropper in Woody Allen's Another Woman, and was also featured in Night on Earth, The Neon Bible, and The Notebook.

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