Name at birth: Edna Rae Gillooly
A celebrated veteran of stage and screen, Ellen Burstyn is known to most moviegoers as Linda Blair's mom in the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist. Burstyn started out as a model and dancer in New York City, and her first audition as an actress brought a role on Broadway in Fair Game in 1957. She worked in television in Los Angeles in the early 1960s, then returned to New York to study acting with Lee Strasberg. Burstyn later earned six Oscar nominations, including four in the 1970s: for The Last Picture Show (1971, directed by Peter Bogdanovich); The Exorcist (1973, with Max Von Sydow); Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974, with Burstyn winning the Oscar as best actress); Same Time, Next Year (1978, opposite Alan Alda); Resurrection (1980); and Requiem for a Dream (2000, with Jared Leto). Her television work includes the series The Ellen Burstyn Show (1986-87) and That's Life (2000-02), and Emmy nominations for The People vs. Jean Harris (1981), Pack of Lies (1987) and Mrs. Harris (2005, starring Annette Bening). Burstyn has been a frequent performer on stage; she won a Tony award for Same Time, Next Year (1975), and her Broadway credits include 84 Charing Cross Road (1982-83) and the one-woman play Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (2003).
Burstyn was the first woman president of the Actors’ Equity Association (1982-85)… Early in her screen career Burstyn was credited as Ellen McRae… Burstyn took her name from her third husband, the actor Robert Burstyn, to whom she was married from 1960-71. She also was married to poet William Alexander (1950-55) and director Paul Roberts (1957-59).