To say that Shirley MacLaine has had a long career seems to be an understatement. Having just turned 80, she continues to be a relevant Hollywood icon, earning spots on two shows, Glee and Downton Abbey, that are popular with millennials worldwide.
Tonight, she’ll be making her debut on Glee as June Dolloway, a socialite who takes a liking to Blaine.
She told Entertainment Weekly that her young friends were excited for her new role:
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. It’s one of those things. Love the talent of all the kids, love that they can do so much in a week. It’s extraordinary. All my young friends really loved the idea [of me doing the show]. I don’t know why, but they do!
1. She Called ‘Glee’ a ‘Talent Bootcamp’
She was intrigued by how well the cast works in such a short time. “I was fascinated by how they retain six songs in four days. How do they do that?” she said.
Her appreciation for the Gleek culture was apparent when she said, “They are extraordinary. And their health and their well-being and their work ethic is extraordinary.”
In the episode, she sings Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” with Blaine.
Playing the wealthy New Yorker was a real treat for MacLaine.
She told E Online:
She’s wonderfully dramatic, funny, can be hard honest, and she’s a tastemaker. Her reputation is based completely on how she finds talent and she’s right about it…she’s flamboyant, and by the way, has a great wardrobe. That’s another good reason why I did it.
2. She Was the Only Woman in The Rat Pack
— Mira Lee (@myrabella_clare) March 23, 2014
She was the only girl in the iconic group of men, which consisted of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop.
In the 1960’s, the group appeared in many movies and shows together, and she was known as their mascot.
In an interview with the CNN, she made it clear that it didn’t get romantic with any of them.
I was the one who would pick up the crackers and the jelly beans. And answer the door. And I always told them the truth, I really did. And that’s why, I think, they liked me.
“I had a crush on Dean for about 15 minutes,” she said.
3. She Has Twitter & Facebook
Who says 80 is old? pic.twitter.com/QnrHQeF4UM
— Shirley MacLaine (@maclaineshirley) April 9, 2014
She is definitely keeping up with her younger costars, and has an iPhone and Twitter. In fact, she is taking over the Glee Twitter account on April 29, when her episode airs on the East Coast.
The actress also just created a Facebook page.
Just created a new FB fan pg – The Real Shirley Maclaine. Keep tabs on what I'm doing here or there! http://t.co/JlXTBpLJul
— Shirley MacLaine (@maclaineshirley) March 25, 2014
As far as the internet goes, she told Entertainment Weekly, “I like it all, I think there’s wonderful potential for the future, but I’m not even interested in whether I washed my hair today.”
4. She Heard About ‘Downton Abbey’ at the Hairdresser
Joining the show in Season 3, MacLaine is Martha Levinson, the mother of Lady Cora.
“She has her own Shirley approach to everything, and it was so refreshing,” said Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Lady Cora.
With the new generation, she is now identified as a member of that cast, and MacLaine doesn’t seem to mind the switch.
My whole identity is now Downton Abbey. All that I’ve done – how many films? All my books? I’m no longer a new-age giddy dingbat. I am now ‘the one on Downton Abbey‘. In airports and other places I go, they say, ‘Downton Abbey, when are you coming back?’
Before she was cast in the British drama, she had heard snippets about it while getting her hair done.
But all the girls were talking about it. They were trying to figure out who was Elizabeth McGovern’s mother, and whether she was a Rothschild, whether she was Jewish. The next thing I knew I got a call from my agent about playing Elizabeth McGovern’s mother. I’d better look at this. And whoa — I got addicted for a full week.
5. She is Known for This Hospital Scene
For her role in Terms of Endearment, she won an Academy Award.
In the scene above, which she did in one take, she becomes hysterical when her dying daughter, played by Debra Winger, is not given her pain shot on time.
Peter Marks from The Washington Post calls the powerful moment the reason that, “probably earned her the only Oscar she ever has won.”