Geena Davis

Active - 1982 - 2020  |   Born - Jan 21, 1956 in Wareham, Massachusetts, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Comedy Drama, Children's/Family, Fantasy

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

Both a former Victoria's Secret model and card-carrying member of MENSA, Geena Davis established herself in Hollywood by playing the quirky protagonist in a wide variety of dramas and romantic comedies, though she has also tested the waters in action films and sci-fi horror. Davis showed an interest in show-business from childhood on, and transferred from New England College to Boston University in order to participate within the university's drama program. After receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts in 1979, she moved to New York City in hopes of being discovered.

Once there, Davis took on several odd jobs; the oddest, perhaps, being her stint as a department store mannequin. A then struggling actress turned in a job performance impressive enough to attract the attention of Zoli Agents, a prominent modeling company. No longer mere window dressing, the six-foot Davis worked as a lingerie model until making her acting debut in the television sitcom Buffalo Bill (1982); she would later write an episode for the same program. Her resume grew slowly but surely, and it wasn't long before she won a recurring role on the long-running Family Ties (1982-1989) as budding entrepreneur Alex P. Keaton's (Michael J. Fox) maid.

Davis made her first feature-film appearance playing a small role in Tootsie (1982). In 1985, she played the title role in Sara, a short-lived NBC sit-com revolving around a single and fiercely independent lawyer trying to make ends meet in San Francisco. That same year, Davis co-starred with Jeff Goldblum in the vampire spoof Transylvania 6-5000. Goldblum, with whom she would later marry, once again was paired with Davis in director David Cronenberg's cult favorite The Fly (1986). The Fly's success officially put Davis on the map, and she would gain further critical notice for her role as a recently deceased housewife in Tim Burton's Beetlejuice. The following year she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in The Accidental Tourist (1988), in which she played an eccentric dog-walker, and reteamed with Jeff Goldblum in 1989's sci-fi musical Earth Girls Are Easy.

Davis received a second Oscar nomination for her part in Ridley Scott's groundbreaking Thelma and Louise (1991), which cast her as an oppressed housewife opposite Hollywood veteran Susan Sarandon. With her film career steadily growing, Davis starred alongside Tom Hanks in the role of a whip-smart baseball ingenue in Penny Marshall's A League of Their Own (1992). She broke away from supporting roles and ensemble films to play the lead role in Martha Coolidge's Angie (1994), which featured Davis in the role of a single mother trying to keep her head above water. She went on to marry director Renny Harlin in 1993, who cast her in 1995's Cutthroat Island as well as the 1996 action-thriller The Long Kiss Good Night. Though playing herself in 2000's The Geena Davis Show proved unfruitful, Davis' role in Rob Minkoff's Stuart Little franchise fared much better. Even still, her most impressive comeback would arrive in the form a role as the President of the United States on the ABC Whitehouse drama Commander in Chief. Davis won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress after the series' first season in 2005 and the show proved to be a major critical success, though it was tragically cancelled the next year, despite vocal protestations by fans.

Davis would continue to act in the following years, most notably in projects like the comedy Accidents Happen.

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  • Was an exchange student in Sweden during her senior year of high school.
  • Member of Mensa with an IQ reportedly over 140.
  • Director Sydney Pollack cast her in 1982's Tootsie after seeing her in a Victoria's Secret catalogue.
  • Costarred in three movies with ex-husband Jeff Goldblum: Transylvania 6-5000, The Fly and Earth Girls Are Easy.
  • Tried out for the U.S. archery team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She came in 24th out of 28 women in a qualifying competition.
  • Founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which seeks to improve the portrayal and visibility of girls and women in media.