Shelley Alexis Duvall (born July 7, 1949) is an American actress and producer known for her portrayals of distinct, often eccentric characters. She is the recipient of several accolades, including a Cannes Film Festival Award, a Peabody Award, and two Primetime Emmy Awards.
Born in Texas, Duvall had no acting experience growing up in Houston. She was an honor student in school and sold perfumes at a department store, but being an actress never crossed her mind. Duvall recently quit a short stint studying science at a local college, when she was discovered by Robert Altman's crew at a party. Altman was impressed with her upbeat presence and cast her in Brewster McCloud (1970). Despite her hesitance towards becoming an actress, she continued to work with Altman, appearing in McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) and Thieves Like Us (1974). It was her involvement in Thieves that solidified her desire to pursue acting. Her breakthrough came with Altman's cult film Nashville (1975), and she earned widespread acclaim with the drama 3 Women (1977), as the self-absorbed Millie Lammoreaux, for which she won Best Actress at Cannes. That same year she appeared in a supporting role (as a reporter for Rolling Stone) in Woody Allen's satirical romantic comedy Annie Hall (1977) and hosted Saturday Night Live.
In the 1980s, Duvall became famous for her leading roles, which include Olive Oyl in Altman's live-active feature version of Popeye (1980) and in Stanley Kubrick's horror film The Shining (1980) as Wendy Torrance. She initially received negative reviews for her performance in the latter, but received widespread acclaim for it in the decades following its release. She appeared in Terry Gilliam's fantasy film Time Bandits (1981), the short comedy horror film Frankenweenie (1984) and the comedy Roxanne (1987). She ventured into producing television programming aimed at children in the latter half of the 1980s, notably creating and hosting the programs Faerie Tale Theatre (1982–1987) and Tall Tales & Legends (1985–1987).
In 1988, Shelley founded Think Entertainment, a production company focused on bringing quality educational content to children. The company, which dissolved in 1993, produced Nightmare Classics (1989), Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme (1990), Bedtime Stories (1992), and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (1994).
Duvall sporadically worked in acting throughout the 1990s, notably playing supporting roles in Steven Soderbergh's thriller The Underneath (1995) and The Portrait of a Lady (1996), directed by Jane Campion. She also appeared in more children's movies like Suburban Commando (1991), Frogs (1992), and Casper Meets Wendy (1998). In addition to TV and film, Duvall recorded two albums Sweet Dreams (1991) and Merry Christmas (1991), and wrote It's a Bird's Life (1993), a 3DO video game. Amidst all this, the 1994 Northridge earthquake destroyed Duvall's Studio City home and she relocated to Texas to be closer to family.
Her last performance was in Manna from Heaven (2002), after which she retired from acting. Duvall for many years kept out of the public media, keeping her personal life generally private; however, her health issues earned significant media coverage.
After a 20-year hiatus from acting, Duvall is set to return in an upcoming horror film titled, The Forest Hills (2023).