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Henry Warren Beatty ( , , born March 30, 1937) is an American actor, producer, screenwriter and director.

Early life and education

Beatty was born Henry Warren Beaty in Richmond, Virginiamarker's Bellevue neighborhood. His mother, Kathlyn Corinne (née MacLean), was a Nova Scotiamarker–born drama teacher, and his father, Ira Owens Beaty, was a professor of psychology, a public school administrator, and a real estate agent. Beatty's grandparents were also teachers. The family was Baptist. His father moved the family from Richmond to Norfolk, Virginiamarker, and then to Arlington, Virginiamarker, where he became a middle school principal. The family also lived in Waverly, Virginiamarker, in the 1930s. Beatty's sister, three years his senior, is the multi-award winning actress and writer Shirley MacLaine.

Beatty was a star football player at Washington-Lee High Schoolmarker, in Arlington, Virginiamarker. Encouraged to act by the success of his sister, who had recently established herself as a Hollywood star, he decided to work as a stagehand at the National Theater in Washington, D.C., during the summer prior to his senior year. This enabled him to establish contact with a few famous actors. Upon graduation from high school, he turned down 10 football scholarships to enroll in drama school.

He studied acting and directing at the Northwestern Universitymarker school of drama. While at Northwestern, he appeared in the annual Dolphin show. He is a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He dropped out after his freshman year to enroll in the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting in New York Citymarker. By the age of twenty-two, Beatty had appeared in about forty Off Broadway productions. He garnered a best actor Tony Award nomination in 1960 for his performance in William Inge's drama A Loss of Roses. It was to be his only appearance on the Broadway stage.

Military service

Under his original name of Henry W. Beaty, Warren Beatty enlisted in the California Air National Guard on February 11, 1960. Assigned the service number 28 282 310, Beatty was assigned as an inactive guard member attached to Van Nuys Air Guard Basemarker.

He was next slated for the military occupation specialty of a personnel assistant (73010), and assigned to attend basic training attached to the 162nd Tactical Control Group. Beatty never attended this training, but he was promoted from Airman Basic to Airman First Class in August 1960 (under the rank system in use during 1960s, this was the equivalent of a modern day Senior Airman).

On January 1, 1961, Beatty was discharged from the Air National Guard due to physical disability. He was also simultaneously discharged from the United States Air Force Reserve. Since he served on inactive duty only, Beatty was not awarded any military decorations.


Beatty started his career making appearances in television series such as Studio One (1957), Playhouse 90 (1959), and The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959). He made his film debut under Elia Kazan's direction and opposite Natalie Wood in Splendor in the Grass (1961). The film was a box office success and Beatty was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in the category Best Motion Picture Actor - Drama.Subsequently he appeared in several films which went relatively unnoticed. Then, at age 30, he achieved critical acclaim and power as a producer and star of Bonnie and Clyde (1967) which was nominated for 10 Academy Awards.

Because of his work on Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Beatty is generally regarded as the precursor of the New Hollywood generation, which included such filmmakers as Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Martin Scorsese.

Afraid of being typecast as a milquetoast leading man, and still smarting over the What's New, Pussycat? debacle, where he was outmaneuvered by Woody Allen and eventually forced to leave the production, Beatty produced Bonnie and Clyde as a means of controlling the projects he was involved with. He hired the untested writers Robert Benton and David Newman, as well as director Arthur Penn, and controlled every facet of production, including cast, script and final cut of the film, as he would throughout the rest of his career, be it as producer/director or only as producer. It should be noted that in Bugsy it was Beatty, the producer, who had final cut on the film, not Barry Levinson, the director.

Bonnie and Clyde became a blockbuster and cultural touchstone for the youth culture of the era. The film, along with Easy Rider, marked the beginning of the so-called “New Hollywood” era, where studios gave unprecedented freedom to filmmakers to pursue their own idiosyncratic vision.

Subsequent Beatty films include McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), The Parallax View (1974), Shampoo (1975), and Heaven Can Wait (1978). The last two films gave him box-office power, making forty-nine and eighty-one million dollars, respectively. He used this to make his long in the works (he had started doing research and some filming as far back as 1970) Reds (1981), an historical epic about the Communist journalist John Reed who observed the Russian October Revolution. Beatty is one of the few people ever to receive Oscar nominations in the Best Picture, Actor, Directing and Writing categories from a single film. This feat is all the more impressive since Beatty achieved it twice. He was nominated for all four awards for his film Heaven Can Wait (1978) but won none of them; he was nominated a second time for all four awards for his film Reds (1981), winning the Directing Award. Beatty received additional nominations for Best Picture and Best Actor in both Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and Bugsy (1991). He was also nominated two other times for Best Original Screenplay: in 1975 for Shampoo and in 1998 for Bulworth.

After a six year hiatus, he returned in 1987 starring alongside Dustin Hoffman in the big-budget Ishtar, which was critically panned and is regarded as one of the biggest box office bombs in film history. In 1990, he bounced back when he produced, directed and starred (along side with his Ishtar co-star Hoffman) in the title role as the comic strip character Dick Tracy in the film of the same name. The film was one of the highest grossers of the year and was also the highest-grossing film in Beatty's career to that point. He failed to repeat the box-office success of Dick Tracy in subsequent films.

In 1991, he starred as the real-life gangster Bugsy Siegel in the biopic Bugsy which was critically acclaimed and made almost fifty million dollars at the U.S. box-office. His following film Love Affair (1994) failed to do well. In 1998 he wrote, produced, directed and starred in the political satire Bulworth which was critically appreciated gaining him another nomination for Best Original Screenplay. In 2001, he appeared in his last film to date, Town and Country, which became the second-largest money loser of any movie ever made (after The Adventures of Pluto Nash) based on contemporary dollars lost: it was made on a budget of approximately USD $90 million, but earned only $6.7 million domestically. Since then, Beatty has not acted in any films but has expressed interest in returning to cinema.

In 2006, Beatty was named Honorary Chairman of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, succeeding Marlon Brando. In 2007, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association awarded Beatty the Cecil B. DeMille award, presented at the Golden Globe ceremony by Tom Hanks. Beatty was honored with the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2008.

Beatty is on the Board of Trustees at The Scripps Research Institute.

Personal life

Beatty has had several high-profile relationships with his costars, including Natalie Wood (Splendor in the Grass), Julie Christie (McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait), Diane Keaton (Reds), Isabelle Adjani (Ishtar') and Madonna (Dick Tracy).

In 1989, he recorded the duet, "Now I'm Following You" with Madonna for her 1990 album, I'm Breathless.

After years of dating many famous women, he married Annette Bening on March 10, 1992, with whom he co-starred in the film Bugsy. They have four children: Kathlyn Elizabeth Beatty (born January 8, 1992), Benjamin MacLean Beatty (born August 23, 1994), Isabel Ira Ashley Beatty (born January 11, 1997) and Ella Corinne Beatty (born April 8, 2000).

Tribune lawsuit

In May 2005, Beatty sued Tribune Co. for $30 million in damages, claiming he still maintains the rights to Dick Tracy. Beatty received the rights in 1985 and claimed that Tribune moved to reclaim them in violation of various notification procedures. There was talk of a sequel, and Beatty did express interest in reprising the part, but the sequel was sidelined by unexpected legal disputes. In March 2009, Tribune filed suit against Beatty, saying that Beatty had "made no productive use" of the rights for over a decade, causing them to revert back to Tribune.

Political activism

A longtime activist in various liberal political causes, Beatty has, at various times, been extremely active in the presidential politics of the Democratic Party. In 1968, he hit the campaign trail for the first time, supporting Senator Robert F. Kennedy's bid for his party's presidential nomination. His involvement in the senator's campaign, which included stump speaking and fundraising, was cut short when Kennedy was shot and killed by Sirhan Sirhan on the same night that he won a crucial primary in Californiamarker.

Four years later, Beatty joined the campaign of Senator George McGovern as an advisor. As part of the so-called "Malibu Mafia," a group of Hollywood celebrities who were part of the candidate's "inner circle," Beatty gave McGovern's campaign manager Gary Hart advice about the handling of public relations and was instrumental in organizing a series of rock concerts which raised over $1 million for the senator's campaign.

In 1984, and again in 1988, Beatty was to play a similar role in Hart's own presidential campaigns. Hart, who had, by that time, become a senator himself, had become friends with Beatty during the 1972 campaign and the relationship had grown closer during the intervening decade. After Hart's second campaign imploded over allegations that he had committed adultery with a former beauty queen named Donna Rice, a mutual friend of the two explained why they were so close: "Gary always wanted to have Warren's life and Warren always wanted to have Gary's. It was a match made in heaven."

Beatty seriously considered becoming a candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination during the summer of 1999 . After it became clear that the only two contenders for the Democratic Party's nomination were to be Vice President Al Gore and former Senator Bill Bradley of New Jerseymarker, Beatty made it generally known that he was dissatisfied with the two choices and began to drop hints that he might be willing to seek the nomination himself. After meeting with several powerful liberal activists and influential Democratic operatives, including pollster Pat Caddell, who had worked previously for Hart, McGovern, California governor Jerry Brown and President Jimmy Carter, and adman Bill Hillsman, who had worked on the campaigns of Senator Paul Wellstone and Governor Jesse Ventura, Beatty announced in September 1999 that he would not seek the nomination. However, he continued to be courted by members of a different political party, the Reform Party, who were looking for an alternative to Pat Buchanan, a conservative who had switched parties after losing the Republican Party's presidential nomination for the third time in a row. Despite frequent entreaties by Governor Ventura, real-estate magnate Donald Trump, and syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington, Beatty refused to enter the race and Buchanan eventually won the Reform Party's nomination.

Despite his decision not to seek the presidency in 2000, Beatty intimated that he might still run at a later time, telling reporters that he would do so if he thought he "could make an impact on the debate". As Californiamarker governor Gray Davis' popularity with California voters dropped, Beatty campaigned against the 2003 special election. He was the keynote speaker at the California Nurses Association's 2005 convention, and recorded radio ads urging voters to reject Governor Schwarzenegger's ballot proposals. The propositions were defeated at the ballot box, increasing speculation that Beatty might run against Schwarzenegger in the 2006 election. But, in early 2006, Beatty announced he would not seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Beatty's anticipated run for president in 2000 was lampooned by Gary Trudeau in his strip Doonesbury.

At the Academy Awards in 1999 there was a large controversy over the award of an honorary Oscar to legendary film director Elia Kazan. Kazan had given names of suspected communists to HUAC over 40 years before. Although many well known liberals (such as Ed Harris and Nick Nolte) in attendance refused to acknowledge Kazan, Beatty applauded.


Year Film Role Notes
1961 Splendor in the Grass Bud Stamper Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone Paolo di Leo
1962 All Fall Down Berry-Berry Willart
1964 Lilith Vincent Bruce
1965 Mickey One Mickey One
Promise Her Anything Harley Rummell
What's New Pussycat (executive producer) (uncredited)
1966 Kaleidoscope Barney Lincoln
1967 Bonnie and Clyde Clyde Barrow (also producer)
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Picture
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama

1970 The Only Game in Town Joe Grady
1971 McCabe & Mrs. Miller John McCabe (also writer)
$ Joe Collins
1973 Year of the Woman (documentary)
1974 The Parallax View Joseph Frady
1975 Shampoo George Roundy (also producer and co-writer with Robert Towne)
Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated — Academy Award For Best Original Screenplay
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy

The Fortune Nicky Wilson
1978 Heaven Can Wait Joe Pendleton (also director with Buck Henry, producer, and writer)
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Saturn Award for Best Actor
Saturn Award for Best Writing
Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Picture
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Director
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated — Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing - Feature Film
Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Direction

1981 Reds John Reed (also director, producer, and writer)
Academy Award for Best Director
David di Donatello for Best Producer
Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing - Feature Film
Golden Globe Award for Best Director
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
National Board of Review Award for Best Director
Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Picture
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay

1984 George Stevens: A Filmmakers Journey (documentary)
1987 Ishtar Lyle Rogers (also producer)
1990 Dick Tracy Dick Tracy (also producer and director)
1991 Madonna: Truth or Dare (documentary)
Bugsy Bugsy Siegel (also producer)
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Picture
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama

1992 Writing with Light: Vittorio Storaro (documentary)
1994 Love Affair Mike Gambril (also writer)
1998 Bulworth Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth (also producer, director and writer)
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated — Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay

1999 The Book That Wrote Itself (cameo)
2001 Town & Country Porter Stoddard
2003 Dean Tavoularis: The Magician of Hollywood (documentary)
2005 One Bright Shining Moment (documentary)


  1. Random House Unabridged Dictionary and Time magazine, but , according to the CMU Pronouncing Dictionary.
  2. New England Historic Genealogical Society
  3. Warren Beatty Biography (1937-)
  4. The religion of Warren Beatty, actor, director
  5. Actor Warren Beatty gives public-policy graduates — and Gov. Schwarzenegger — some advice on power
  6. Freedom of Information Act request - United States Department of Veterans Affairs & NPRC (2005)
  8. Tribune Sues Warren Beatty Over Dick Tracy Rights Yahoo News, March 21, 2009

Further reading

  • Ellis Amburn, The Sexiest Man Alive : A Biography of Warren Beatty, HarperCollins Publishers Inc., New York, 2002. ISBN 0-06-018566-X
  • Suzanne Finstad, Warren Beatty : A Private Man, Random House, Inc., New York, 2005. ISBN 1-4000-4606-8

External links

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