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).
Biography by Sandra Brennan
- Worked as a model and dancer at the Copacabana nightclub before making it as an actress.
- Her role on the TV series Alice was different from the character she played in the 1974 film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, on which the sitcom was based. Her movie character of Flo was played by Polly Holliday on the series (and its 1980-81 spin-off, Flo).
- Played mother to real-life daughter Laura Dern in four movies: White Lightning (1973), Wild at Heart (1990), Citizen Ruth (1996) and Daddy and Them (2001).
- Her and Laura Dern's nominations for Rambling Rose marked the first time a mother and daughter received Oscar nods for the same film.
- Her memoir, Spiraling Through the School of Life: A Mental, Physical and Spiritual Discovery, was published in April 2006.