The daughter of artists, actress Ali MacGraw prepared for an art career of her own at Wellesley College. At 22, MacGraw entered the world of high fashion as assistant editor at Harper's Bazaar and went on to work as a photographer's assistant, at least until someone decided that her looks were far too dazzling to be kept behind the camera. Before long, she was adorning magazine covers worldwide and appearing in TV commercials (she's the beach girl in the "Polaroid Swinger" camera ads of the mid-'60s). After an unremarkable movie debut in 1968, she became a full-fledged star in 1969's Goodbye Columbus. Perhaps no one was more impressed by MacGraw's charms than Paramount executive Robert Evans, who fell in love with her and began guiding the destinies of her career (Evans became MacGraw's second husband in 1971). Her next film role was unquestionably the best: Jenny Cavilleri, the charmingly foul-mouthed, slowly dying heroine of the 1970 smash hit Love Story, which earned her an Oscar nomination. Evans continued promoting MacGraw's career even after she'd left him in favor of actor Steve McQueen, whom she'd met while filming Sam Peckinpah's The Getaway (1973), and to whom she was married from 1973 to 1978. After losing the role of Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby (1974) to Mia Farrow, MacGraw took a four-year sabbatical from films. Her 1978 comeback picture was Convoy, which reunited her with Sam Peckinpah; inspired by a CB radio craze, the film was regarded as a great step backward for all concerned. After playing Alan King's long-suffering lady friend in Just Tell Me What You Want, MacGraw confined her infrequent acting appearances to the small screen. She was briefly a regular as Lady Ashley Mitchell on the weekly Dynasty, and starred in the miniseries The Winds of War (1983) and China Rose (1985). MacGraw also appeared in the TV movies Gunsmoke: The Long Ride (1992), playing a character named Uncle Jane, and Natural Causes (1994). In 1991, Ali MacGraw published Moving Pictures, her autobiography.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- After graduating college, moved to New York and worked as a fashion assistant to Harper's Bazaar and Vogue's editor.
- Was once sent a gift-boxed, imitation-pearl-encrusted live iguana from artist Salvador Dali after meeting at a cocktail party.
- Moved from fashion magazines to commercials to modeling before making her breakthrough acting performance in Goodbye, Columbus (1969).
- Moved from Los Angeles to Santa Fe when her Malibu house burned down in 1993.
- Is an animal activist and is a yoga practitioner.