Whether playing a wiseacre waitress, an insane bioengineer, or a vengeful, darkly comic widow, Diane Ladd brings energy and accomplishment to her roles. Born Rose Diane Ladner in Meridian, MS, she moved to New York City as a teen. Before making her stage debut in Tennessee Williams' Orpheus Descending, Ladd worked as a model and a dancer at the Copacabana nightclub. In 1961, Ladd debuted in her first feature film, Something Wild. Though she subsequently appeared in a few more films during the '60s, including The Reivers (1969), Ladd focused on her stage career. In film, 1974 proved to be a great year for Ladd. Her portrayal of Flo, the tough waitress who helps out a recently widowed Ellen Burstyn in Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More, garnered her nominations for an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a British Academy Award. She then appeared opposite Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway in Roman Polanski's Chinatown. Beginning in 1976, Ladd became a familiar face in television movies like The Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones (1980) and miniseries such as Black Beauty (1978). Though she continued to sporadically appear in feature films through the '80s, her movie career didn't perk up again until the early '90s. Formerly married to character actor Bruce Dern, Ladd is the mother of willowy leading lady Laura Dern. Mother and daughter have appeared in several films together, notably 1991's Rambling Rose and David Lynch's Wild at Heart (1990) -- the former film earned mother and daughter a place in Oscar history when they became the first such duo to be nominated for the same film (Ladd for Best Supporting Actress and Dern for Best Actress).
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by Sandra Brennan biography