Diana Scarwid

Active - 1977 - 2011  |   Born - Aug 27, 1955 in Savannah, Georgia, United States  |   Genres - Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Character actress Diana Scarwid's pre-film credentials are impeccable. Scarwid was active with the University of Georgia Theatre Workshop, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, the National Shakespeare Conservatory and the Film Actor's Workshop at Burbank Studios before making her first movie appearance in Louis Malle's Pretty Baby (1978). She was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of John Savage's girlfriend in Inside Moves (1980), then moved on to her most talked-about screen role: Cristina Crawford, the much-abused adopted daughter of Hollywood star Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) in Mommie Dearest (1980). Opinions are split right down the middle concerning Scarwid's work in this film: Some congratulate her for bringing artistry and craftsmanship to an impossibly written role, while others condemn her for never rising above the tawdry material--and for failing to shed her Southern accent. Evidently Mommie Dearest did more harm than good for Scarwid; thereafter, with isolated exceptions like 1981's Silkwood (in which she was superb as Cher's humorless lesbian lover), she was largely confined to garbage like Psycho III (1986) and Brenda Starr (1993). Happily, there are still some producers willing to cast Diana Scarwid in worthwhile parts; the most recent of these was the role of Rose Kennedy in the made-for-TV JFK: The Restless Years (1993).

Movie Highlights

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  • Performed with the University of Georgia Theater Workshop, the National Shakespeare Conservatory and the Film Actors' Workshop at Burbank Studios.
  • Made her TV debut in an episode of NBC's Gibbsville in 1976.
  • Her first film role was in Louis Malle's Pretty Baby (1978).
  • Was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Inside Moves (1980), and for a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress for Mommie Dearest (1981).