Entertainment

Shelley Duvall: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Shelley Duvall went from a recognizable Hollywood actress to a woman living in near-isolation, and today, CBS will broadcast her interview with Dr. Phil. Who exactly is Duvall? What films has she starred in, and why is she speaking with Dr. Phil about mental illness? Get the details here.


1. She Starred in ‘Popeye’ and ‘the Shining’

Though she may not be a household name, Duvall has had quite an illustrious film career. She started acting in the 1970s, in Robert Altman films like Brewster McCloud (1970), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Thieves Like Us (1974), Nashville (1975), and 3 Women (1977). Her performances in the latter earned her a BAFTA nomination for Best Actress, and the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress.

In 1977, at age 28, Duvall went on to appear as a supporting role in Woody Allen’s hit movie, Annie Hall, followed by leading roles in Popeye (1980) as Olive Oyl and The Shining (1980) as the terrified wife of Jack Nicholson’s caretacker. Duvall even dabbled in producing, and served as the executive producer on Faerie Tale Theatre from 1982 to 1987. At the time, she told People, “producing allows you to take control of your life.”

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2. She Says She’s Been Suffering From Mental Illness

Shelley Duvall Dr. Phil Show, Who is Shelley Duvall

(Youtube/ShelleyDuvall)

In her interview with Dr. Phil, Duvall says that she has been suffering from mental illness, and that she “started her Hollywood career on a whim,” writes People. Duvall was just 20 when she met director Robert Altman, who subsequently cast her in many of his films. She’s now 67, and her interview with Dr. Phil is her first large public appearance in over a decade. During the interview, she tells him that she’s being threatened by “the Sheriff of Nottingham” and that there’s a “worrying disc” inside her. At one point, the former actress point-blank says, “I’m very sick. I need help.”

Duvall’s 20s were also defined by challenging moments. In an article by Looper, titled “Roles that drove actors over the edge,” the outlet writes, “Kubrick intentionally isolated Shelley Duvall and argued with her often. Duvall was forced to perform the iconic and exhausting baseball bat scene 127 times. Afterwards, Duvall presented Kubrick with clumps of hair that had fallen out due to the extreme stress of filming, which seems like something Kubrick would have collected anyhow.”

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3. She Believes Robin Williams Is Still Alive

In her interview with Dr. Phil, Duvall reveals that she thinks Robin Williams is still alive and is a shapeshifter who has visited her. How does the conversation arise? In previews from today’s broadcast, Dr. Phil tells Duvall he was very sorry to hear of Robin Williams’ death. Duvall says she doesn’t think he is dead. Dr. Phil then asks what she thinks happened, and the former actress responds by saying, “Well beetles escapes. I don’t know, stones escapes.” When Dr. Phil asks where, specifically, she thinks Williams is, she says, “Shapeshifting. He looks real good in some forms and in other forms he doesn’t.”

Since retiring in 2002, Duvall has spent her time living in Blanco, Texas.


4. She Was Married to Artist Bernard Sampson

From 1970 to 1974, Duvall was married to artist Bernard Sampson. The couple got divorced when Duvall’s acting career began to pick up speed. A 1991 LA Times Article claims that Duvall actually met Robert Altman at a party showing off Simpson’s artwork. The outlet writes, “Intrigued by Duvall’s offbeat looks and hyper-enthusiasm, they invited her to bring Sampson’s work to a supposed gathering of ‘art patrons,’ which was really a surreptitious casting call with Altman and producer Lou Adler in attendance.” Adler later stated, “As I remember, the paintings weren’t great–but her sales pitch was. She had the most amazing amount of energy I’d ever seen in anyone. She looked like a flower; her face was painted with marks around her eyes to accent them. She was overwhelming.”


5. She Dated and Lived With Paul Simon

While shooting Annie Hall, Duvall dated singer/songwriter Paul Simon. The couple lived together in Manhattan for two years. In her 1991 interview with the LA Times, Duvall said, “He was just so funny and intelligent and charming.” Their romance began to fade when Simon grew frustrated with Shelley’s clothing and youthfulness. “Paul said, ‘You dress like a kid, a little kid,’ and I thought, ‘He’s right, I do.’ I started losing confidence, so I went out and spent way too much money on clothes.” When Simon brought Duvall to the airport to board a plane to London to film The Shining, he broke up with her. The LA Times writes, “She cried all the way across the Atlantic, and that was just the beginning of the endless tears she would shed during the next months of filming.”

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