Meryl Streep (born Mary Louise Streep; June 22, 1949 in Summit, New Jersey) is an American actress and producer. A three-time Academy Award winner, she is widely regarded as one of the greatest film actors of all time.
Streep made her professional stage debut in The Playboy of Seville in 1971, and went on to receive a 1976 Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play for A Memory of Two Mondays/27 Wagons Full of Cotton. She made her screen debut in the 1977 television film The Deadliest Season, and made her film debut later that same year in Julia. In 1978, she won an Emmy Award for her role in the miniseries Holocaust, and received the first of her 19 Academy Award nominations for The Deer Hunter.
She has more Academy Award nominations than any actor or actress in history, winning Best Supporting Actress for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and Best Actress for Sophie's Choice (1982) and The Iron Lady (2011). Streep is one of only six actors who have won three or more competitive Academy Awards for acting. Her other nominated roles include The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), Silkwood (1983), Out of Africa (1985), A Cry in the Dark (1988), Postcards From the Edge (1990), The Bridges of Madison County (1995), Adaptation (2002), The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Doubt (2008), Julie & Julia (2009), August: Osage County (2013), and Into the Woods (2014).
She returned to the stage for the first time in over 20 years in The Public Theater's 2002 revival of The Seagull, won a second Emmy Award in 2004 for the HBO miniseries Angels in America (2003), and starred in the Public Theater's 2006 production of Mother Courage and Her Children. Streep has also received 29 Golden Globe nominations, winning eight, more nominations and more competitive (non-honorary) wins than any other actor (male or female) in history.
Her work has also earned her two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Cannes Film Festival award, five New York Film Critics Circle Awards, two BAFTA awards, two Australian Film Institute awards, five Grammy Award nominations, and five Drama Desk Award nominations, among several others. She was awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2004 and the Kennedy Center Honor in 2011 for her contribution to American culture through performing arts. President Barack Obama awarded her the 2010 National Medal of Arts and in 2014 the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2003, the government of France made her a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.
Streep lived with actor John Cazale for three years until his death in March 1978. Al Pacino remarked that "I've hardly ever seen a person so devoted to someone who is falling away like John was. To see her in that act of love for this man was overwhelming." Streep said of his death, "I didn't get over it. I don't want to get over it. No matter what you do, the pain is always there in some recess of your mind, and it affects everything that happens afterwards. I think you can assimilate the pain and go on without making an obsession of it".
Streep married sculptor Don Gummer six months after Cazale's death on September 30, 1978. They have four children: musician Henry (born 1979), actresses Mamie (born 1983) and Grace (born 1986), and model Louisa (born 1991). In August 1985 the family moved into a $1.8 million private estate in Connecticut, with an extensive art studio to facilitate her husband, and lived there until they bought a $3 million mansion in Brentwood, Los Angeles in 1990.
They later moved back to Connecticut in 1994 until the end of the decade. Author Karina Longworth notes that despite her "high level of stardom" for decades, Streep has managed to maintain a relatively normal personal life. When asked if religion plays a part in her life in 2009, Streep replied: "I follow no doctrine. I don't belong to a church or a temple or a synagogue or an ashram."
In an interview in December 2008, she also alluded to her inability to follow a religion when she said: "So I've always been really, deeply interested, because I think I can understand the solace that's available in the whole construct of religion. But I really don't believe in the power of prayer, or things would have been avoided that have happened, that are awful. So it's a horrible position as an intelligent, emotional, yearning human being to sit outside of the available comfort there.
But I just can't go there." When asked from where she draws consolation in the face of aging and death, Streep responded: "Consolation? I'm not sure I have it. I have a belief, I guess, in the power of the aggregate human attempt – the best of ourselves. In love and hope and optimism – you know, the magic things that seem inexplicable. Why we are the way we are. I do have a sense of trying to make things better. Where does that come from?"
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