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Shelley Duvall, star of 'The Shining', '3 Women' and 'Annie Hall', dies aged 75

Shelley Duvall dies aged 75
Shelley Duvall dies aged 75 Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures
Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures
By David Mouriquand
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Known for films like 'The Shining', 'Annie Hall' and 'Nashville', iconic American actress Shelley Duvall has died at the age of 75 from complications linked to diabetes.


Shelley Duvall, who famously starred as Wendy Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic The Shining, among many other iconic roles, has died at the age of 75. 

Duvall died in her sleep Thursday (11 July) in Blanco, Texas, due to complications from diabetes, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Her partner, Breakfast Club musician Dan Gilroy, confirmed the news to THR. 

“My dear, sweet, wonderful life partner and friend left us. Too much suffering lately, now she’s free. Fly away, beautiful Shelley,” Gilroy said. 

The actress, born in Ft. Worth, Texas, on 7 July 1949, was directed on several occasions by Robert Altman, who cast her in Brewster McCloud for her first screen role. She went on to appear in his films McCabe & Mrs. Miller,Thieves Like Us and Nashville. She won the Cannes Best Actress Palme for Altman’s 3 Women in 1977.  

Film festival Jury President Italian director Roberto Rossellini, next to jubilant Shelley Duvall at Cannes - 27 May 1977
Film festival Jury President Italian director Roberto Rossellini, next to jubilant Shelley Duvall at Cannes - 27 May 1977AP Photo/Jean Jacques Levy

Asked by The New York Times in 1977 why she chose to keep working with Altman, she said: “He offers me damn good roles. None of them have been alike. He has a great confidence in me, and a trust and respect for me, and he doesn’t put any restrictions on me or intimidate me, and I love him.” 

“I remember the first advice he ever gave me: ‘Don’t take yourself seriously.’ Sometimes I find myself feeling self-centered, and then all of a sudden that bit of advice will pop into my head and I’ll laugh.”

Shelley Duvall - 1983
Shelley Duvall - 1983AP Photo/Doug Pizac

Also in 1977, Duvall played in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, and later starred as as Olive Oyl in Altman’s Popeye alongside Robin Williams in 1980. She was then cast by Stanley Kubrick as Wendy Torrance, the wife of Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance in The Shining, based on the Stephen King novel. 

The Shining, which required 13 months of shooting, was a trying time for Duvall, as Kubrick pushed the actress to the point of bullying. Kubrick had her “crying 12 hours a day for weeks on end,” she said in a 1981 interview with People magazine. “I will never give that much again. If you want to get into pain and call it art, go ahead, but not with me.” 

Shelley Duvall as Wendy in The Shining
Shelley Duvall as Wendy in The ShiningWarner Bros. Pictures

One particular scene, the iconic baseball bat sequence, required her to do 127 takes. It made the Guinness Book of World Records for the most takes of a scene with dialogue. 

Among her other roles were Terry Gilliam ’s Time Bandits and the comedy Roxanne with Steve Martin. 

During the 1980s, Duvall produced a series of children’s anthology shows based on classic stories. These shows were directed by the likes of Tim Burton and Francis Ford Coppola, with guest stars like Robin Williams, Jamie Lee Curtis, Laura Dern, and Molly Ringwald. 

Duvall appeared in Steven Soderbergh’s The Underneath in 1995 and the next year starred in Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady.

She retired from acting in 2002, but returned to the screen 20 years later with a role in the film The Forest Hills

She is survived by her partner Dan Gilroy. 

Additional sources • Hollywood Reporter

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